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How the Rotary Charities of Traverse City happened upon a lucky source of funding

Jul 1, 2015

Credit Flickr user Clinton Steeds / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Small but mighty. That's the Rotary Charities of Traverse City.

They've taken profits from oil and gas wells and put that money right back into improving Traverse City in many ways. It's a perfect example of a non-profit making a powerful impact on its community.

The Rotary Charities are connected to the local Traverse City Rotary Club and value the organization's culture of "service above self."

The local club was chartered in 1923, and one of their first projects was to purchase 400 acres of land for local kids to go to camp. In the 1970s they struck oil and gas there.

From this discovery they have made over $50 million, and with advice from the business-minded members of the club, invested much of it.

Marsha Smith is the executive director of Rotary Charities of Traverse City. She says they've given away over $50 million to organizations in the community, and they still have $48 million left.

"We've been able over the years to really help support a wide-range of non-profit organizations, units of government and schools, with a variety of projects," she says.