Phil and Karen Court Family Fund
When Karen Murray returned to the workforce after taking time off to care for her two young children, the job she chose ended up permanently affecting her perspective -- and her philanthropy.
Trained as a lawyer, Karen worked and volunteered for many years in homelessness outreach – first as an employee and then as a member and board chair for Niagara Regional Housing. That exposure to the many problems homeless people face, and the sometimes simple ways that a bit of extra funding could help, led Karen and her husband Phil to establish the Philip and Karen Court Family Fund with the Niagara Community Foundation.
Previously, the couple had established their own family foundation, so they could grant money to small programs with which they were familiar “that had trouble getting funding.” Karen and Phil didn’t want to fund initiatives in a long-term way, but wanted to be available to provide charitable help “with special projects or emergencies.”
The family managed it on their own, handling grant requests and navigating the charitable donation accounting landscape. But as their first-hand connections with the organizations and people working in homelessness outreach became more distant, the Niagara Community Foundation seemed like the logical next step.
Now the couple can continue contributing to the causes that matter to them, leaving the oversight to the experts. Karen said she still wants to be able to respond to requests for help, which is why a donor-directed fund made sense.
“We could set our own parameters, that the funds would go to anti-poverty initiatives or to the at-risk community,” Karen said.
They also hope to inspire others, including their two sons, Luke and Ben, to continue the generosity. “Working with the Niagara Community Foundation means you can start small, but it can continue to grow,” Phil said. “This lets us do something we can be proud of, and that our kids can be proud of.”