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CMS Philanthropy: Options Abound

With restoration of these programs, members show they want to give By Robert W. Panton, MD, and Peter J. Panton, MD

The Chicago Medical Society (CMS) supports charitable and philanthropic programs for its members and the public through its three philanthropic endeavors: the CMS Foundation Education Fund, directed donations, and service projects. The following article highlights their success. Please consider participating in them.

Foundation Education Fund

When CMS purchased the Grand Avenue building in 1980, individual CMS members were asked to contribute $250 toward the cost of the new building. Approximately 1,273 contributors donated $281,000 toward the project. Michael R. Treister, MD, also donated artwork that remains on display to this day.

When revisiting the concept of charitable works, there was a great deal of skepticism. After all, CMS had been essentially devoid of monetary donations from 2005-2010. Nevertheless, on May 11, 2010, the philanthropic program was restored with the introduction of the CMS Foundation Education Fund. This endowment fund is part of the CMS Foundation, which is a tax-exempt 501(c) 3 organization. As such, contributions to the Fund are fully tax-deductible. The Fund supports the mission of the CMS Foundation, educating physicians and promoting health awareness in Cook County.

Endowment funds are structured to be perpetual. Previously, endowment funds spun off interest money for ongoing operations. However, such a structure is subject to market fluctuations. Modern endowment funds accumulate a corpus of assets. A fixed percentage, up to 4%, can be distributed annually for the ongoing operations of the organization.

The CMS Investment Committee reviews the performance of the professional money managers (currently PNC Financial Services) to assure long-term growth of the Fund. A typical asset allocation for growth might include a 60% position in equities (stocks) and a 40% investment in fixed income vehicles (bonds and money market funds). The Foundation Board may approve annual disbursements up to 4% of the value of the Fund to support the operations of the CMS Foundation.

Directed Donations

Since the introduction of the Education Fund, CMS members have demonstrated they wish to contribute, but often to their own specific projects. For example, CMS Treasurer Philip B. Dray, MD, donated CMS memberships to more than 100 Cook County residents, and he is doing so again. Anne Marie Dunlap, MD, provided meeting support for the public health initiative Building a Healthier Chicago. CMS physicians funded sporting events, such as the annual White Sox baseball game for students and residents. Social and networking events for young physicians have also been supported by members.

All told, directed donations have reached almost $15,000, with another $12,000 pledged for the future. Donations to the Endowment Fund have exceeded $3,000, bringing the total monetary pledges and donations to almost $30,000.

Service Projects

Physicians have also contributed generously with their time for public health projects. Project SMILE has taught CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) skills to physicians and to the public. This program was spearheaded by CMS Trustee Vemuri S. Murthy, MD. Also, George Chiampas, MD, has promoted the program CCARES, which stresses the importance of BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). CMS member Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD, has worked tirelessly to promote stroke awareness and to encourage the use of primary stroke centers. Numerous medical students have also volunteered for public health programs.

With charitable organizations, typically, the ones who organize like to support endowment funds due to their permanent nature, while the donors often prefer donations for specific projects. Directed donations have been particularly popular in the fields of education and public health, benefiting residents and students. We hope to maintain the same enthusiasm for permanent endowment funds as already exists for specific programs.

Finally, donations of CMS members’ time to service projects have been even more significant. The challenge for our organization continues to be providing opportunities for members to participate and contribute with their talent, time, and treasure.

For more information about CMS charitable and philanthropic programs, please call us at 312-670-2550.

Dr. Robert Panton is president of the Chicago Medical Society; he practices ophthalmology with his brother and co-author Dr. Peter Panton at Panton Eye Center in Elmwood Park.

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