The Builders Circle
Lake Lure from Chimney Rock

With the exception of a checking account to handle small operational expenses, the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation has no funds allocated to operating costs, other than those donated in the ‘Builder’s Circle’ pledge program. Most work, events and related operational expenses are provided by volunteers and board members.

What is the Builder’s Circle?

An operating fund that pays for administrative, marketing and fundraising costs associated with the necessary role of promoting the organization and the Endowment it stewards.

Why was it created?

The Foundation Board of Directors has set a lofty goal to dramatically grow the Endowment to $1 Million by 2027 centennial. While the prior Founder’s Circle Donor Program has been invaluable in growing the Endowment and has made it possible for us to award multiple small grants, it is now replaced with the Legacy Leaders Donor Program. With regard to our Endowment, the Legacy Leaders has two limitations:

  • 1) Legacy enrollment funds are completely dedicated to the Endowment. Any interest generated from the endowment is used to award grants to area organizations; and
  • 2) That leaves the Foundation with extremely limited financial resources with which to focus dedicated efforts at growing the Endowment exponentially.

Why do you need Funds for Operating Expenses?

If the Foundation is to dramatically increase donor levels to the Endowment, it is clear that professional marketing, public relations, and targeted fundraising programs are essential. The Builder’s Circle has, and will continue to, provide a dedicated fund for the operational expenses associated with this goal.

Isn’t this how a Business Operates?

Yes, exactly! Donors to the Builder’s Circle understand that it takes money to make money. Their contribution of $500 a year over ten years will go directly toward paying for the costs associated with attracting more Legacy Leaders members, creating a strong estate planning program, and improving consistent communication tools with our donors and potential donors.

Okay, but exactly how is it different from the Legacy Leaders?

In short, the Legacy Leaders funds the Endowment and the Builder’s Circle funds our operations. From its inception, the Foundation’s board of directors made a commitment for all non-operational donations (e.g. Legacy Leaders pledge), to go directly into the Endowment and to utilize the interest generated from those investments as a catalyst for making grants to local organizations. As a result, the Endowment has grown enough over the last ten years to make it possible to award numerous small grants to organizations in Hickory Nut Gorge. About 2-4 grants are awarded annually with an average amount of $500 and $1,800, respectively. If the number and size of grants are ever to increase, then we’ll need continued increases in operating capital to take the organization to the next level.

Which one should I support?

Both Builders and Legacy Leaders programs certainly advance the mission of the organization. However, they do it in different ways. The accompanying table may help determine which path of support is right for you.

 Builders Circle Members

Class of 2018

Abercrombie Tiles
Bubba O'Leary's General Store
Burnt Shirt Tasting Room
Chimney Rock Mgmt. LLC
Esmeralda Inn
Pam & Bob Keith
Chuck & Shirley Landever
Julie McKinney
Melinda & Todd Morse
Mabel & Joe Satrape