OBX Community Foundation: Mike Kelly continuing important legacy

By on November 29, 2017

 What does the Outer Banks Community Foundation do and where are the dollars going? Undesignated donations go to wherever they can best serve our community. But some want to support a specific cause. These are Endowment Funds, and the Foundation manages over 150, using investment profits to award grants to non-profits. This continuing series explores a fund managed by OBCF. Consider giving to that fund, donating to another or maybe even setting up one of your own.

Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern, Mike Kelly’s signature restaurant, will end its regular dining hours on Saturday evening and close for good next weekend, the land sold for development of a supermarket.

But with Mako Mike’s and Pamlico Jack’s restaurants still open, as well as the company’s catering service, Kelly is still very much a part of the Outer Banks community.

Known for his generous contributions to the local area, Kelly has worked almost exclusively through the Outer Banks Community Foundation to target his giving, much of the funds coming from his annual golf tournament.

After the 24th Kelly Hospitality Group Annual Charity Golf Tournament wrapped up, Mike had a chance to reflect upon this year and tournaments past, and what it has meant to him and his family to be able to give back to the local community.

“We had a pretty good year,” Kelly said. “We had 27 teams. There’s four to a team so that’s over 100 people. We ended up clearing $15,000 or $16,000.”

“We’ve raised a little over $300,000 in the golf tournaments,” he said. “We’ve given away $300,000 and because of the growth and because of the money we’ve put into it, we still have a little more than $300,000 in it (the fund). That’s amazing.”

It’s a track record that Kelly attributes directly to the Community Foundation.

“It’s because of their professionalism and they’re there to give you their expertise,” he said.

Mike opened Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in 1985, purchasing what had been J. Fleming Munde’s in Nags Head from John Lancaster and Paul Shaver. As the business became more successful, he found himself increasingly thinking about the community and how he could give back.

“All of a sudden you find yourself reading the newspapers, listening to the radio, so you can be a part of things that are recurring on the Outer Banks and new things that are occurring,” he said.

Sitting on the Community Foundation board in the early days with some of the founders might have helped shape his thinking. He has been on the board three times, although he had to resign his most recent tenure because of time constraints in overseeing the sale of the property that is home to his signature restaurant.

“The first time was in the late 80s, 85 or 86 to 95 or 96. That’s what gave us the idea to set up separate funds,” he explained.

The money donated during the tournaments goes into the Kelly Family Fund, a donor-advised fund the Community Foundation administers. A donor-advised fund is a separately identified fund within the Community Foundation that allows the donor and his or her family to recommend how those funds will be granted.

“It has been our vehicle of choice,” Kelly indicated. “We’ve never had a request turned down. It’s because of the professionalism provided by the Foundation.”

Managing the Kelly Family Fund as a perpetual endowment, the Community Foundation invests the monies with only a portion of the endowment used for annual grants. Through professional fund management, the Kelly Family Fund has continued to grow.

The Community Foundation manages donor-advised funds for 30 local families and over 175 different charitable endowments for Outer Banks families and organizations.

That the funds would be professionally administered was important for Mike, but it was not the only ingredient in his thinking.

“The money stays in Dare County and with the Community Foundation, a very, very small percentage goes to administrative costs. That’s why we chose to work with the Community Foundation,” he said.

Many of the donations the Kelly Family Fund has made have become an important part of Outer Banks life.

“An example is the Marathon,” Kelly said, pointing to $100,000 in donations over ten years. “I did it for economic development. I think it’s helped a whole lot in the area. The Marathon is just integrated into what happens on the Outer Banks.”

Other donations have also impacted local life. The Kelly Family Fund has donated to the Community Care Clinic, a donation, he notes, that directly affects his employees. There have been other donations as well, large and small.

“We give away somewhere between $17,000-22,000 a year. You try to diversify a little bit,” he clarified. “We’re looking at projects that hopefully have long-term impacts on the Outer Banks and some things that they need to do right away.”

Mike has found over the years there is a proprietary feel to seeing organizations take the money he has donated and become successful in what they are doing.

“It’s sort of like watching your children growing,” he noted. “It doesn’t happen tomorrow. Five, six, seven years from now…all of a sudden you see that they’ve succeeded.”

That giving, Mike feels, is an important part of what makes the Outer Banks special.

“The Outer Banks is a very giving area. Remarkable for its size,” he said. And because of that, it is important that what is contributed here stays here. “That is a very major thing. It stays here and it helps you and it helps your neighbors.”

Knowing that what he has given to the Outer Banks community will be part of his legacy is a significant part of what motivates Mike—the knowledge that his actions are impacting his wife and daughters.

“Some of it,” he observed, “is trying to instill that little bit of philanthropy in my daughters. And Willo, my wife, has picked that up really well. We have quarterly meetings. They will assert their opinion about what they think is important for the community. They have the experiences that this is a positive thing that has happened.”

For more information about how the Outer Banks Community Foundation can help with donor-advised funds, endowments and other forms of charitable giving, contact the Community Foundation at 252-261-8839 or online at www.obcf.org.

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