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US Salvos Benefit From World's Largest Bequest

2 February 2004 at 12:02 pm
Staff Reporter
The Salvation Army in the US has received a bequest estimated to be in excess of $US1.5 billion from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, wife of the founder of the McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain.

Staff Reporter | 2 February 2004 at 12:02 pm


US Salvos Benefit From World's Largest Bequest
2 February 2004 at 12:02 pm

The Salvation Army in the US has received a bequest estimated to be in excess of $US1.5 billion from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, wife of the founder of the McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain, making it the largest gift ever given to a charity! And with the gift comes an enormous managerial task…

The funds have been specifically designated for the development of community centres across the country, similar to the landmark Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centre in San Diego that opened two years ago.

Kroc’s gift is the largest ever to a single charitable organisation, and ranks ninth overall in terms of gifts to Not for Profit organisations. The largest ever was Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates’ $US6 billion donation to his own group, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Kroc, the widow of McDonald’s restaurant founder Ray Kroc, was known for giving away hundreds of millions to promote world peace, education, health care and the arts. She died Oct. 12 and bequeathed $US200 million to National Public Radio and $US50 million apiece to peace institutes at the universities of Notre Dame and San Diego that bear her name. Other organisations and charities received lesser amounts.

Commissioner Todd Bassett, the US National Commander of The Salvation Army says the organisation is obviously thrilled, but humbled by the exceptional generosity of Joan Kroc.

Bassett says the Salvos also recognise the deep sense of trust she has placed into their hands with this gift.

He says Mrs. Kroc was a wonderful friend of The Salvation Army, and her passion for children and families and her hope for community peace will live on forever through this incredible gift.

Mrs. Kroc died last October after a short battle with cancer.

The language and conditions of the trust are precise in directing use of the funds – half of the donation must be placed into an endowment from which the interest will be used to partially support operation of the centres; and half must be used solely for construction of the centres. None of the gift can be used for existing programs and services, or administrative costs.

Commissioner Bassett also says that Mrs. Kroc recognised that the endowment funds would not cover all of the expenses of the centres and she clearly communicated her expectation that the communities selected for these new centres will need to provide additional support for operational purposes.

Commissioner Bassett says the gift also poses unique fund-raising challenges but they are confident that their many individual and corporate supporters will respond to the remarkable opportunity Mrs. Kroc has given all of us.

The gift will be divided into four equal amounts and distributed to the four geographic territories that comprise The Salvation Army in the United States. Each of the territories is an independent corporation, directed by senior Army officers.

Bassett says the territories will direct the planning and construction of new centres, and utilise professional portfolio managers to assist with overseeing the gift. The Army’s preliminary planning indicates that 25-30 centres could be built and financed with the gift, but the planning and review process has not fully begun.

The model for Mrs. Kroc’s vision is found in The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centre in San Diego. Funded entirely by Mrs. Kroc with a $US92 million gift in 1998, the San Diego centre is a twelve-acre facility that opened in June, 2002, and has since served 728,000 people. The centre provides a variety of programs to meet the unique needs of the culturally diverse communities that surround this facility. The facility, which is located in a neighbourhood where 47 languages are spoken, includes an aquatic centre, ice arena, gymnasium, athletic fields, family enhancement centre, child-care centre, performing arts centre, education centre and a traditional Salvation Army worship centre.

As she stated when making the donation for the San Diego centre, Mrs. Kroc was inspired by her personal concern for all to live in peace and for youth and adults to have resources that would enable them to reach their full potential. She described the San Diego facility as “a miniature peace centre” during the dedication.

Mrs. Kroc remarked at that time, “Here, children will learn of each other – that’s more important than this being a centre for recreation.”

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