Greensboro & Chester
"I saw that the Loan Fund had been around for a long time. I saw that they knew what they were doing, and didn’t lend out money they couldn’t cover.”
When it comes to carefully stewarding their important funds, at least two Vermont public libraries are ‘on the same page’ as to what makes for a sound investment. Recently, both the Greensboro Free Library and the Whiting Library in Chester became investors with VCLF.
When the Greensboro Free Library (GFL) in Caledonia County was looking for an investment that was low-risk as well as compatible with their broader goals for benefitting Vermonters, they put their research skills to work. Stephanie Herrick, who is both Treasurer of the library’s Board of Trustees and Chair of its Finance Committee, saw numerous pluses to investing with VCLF.
While the GFL board didn’t want to take on much risk, they also hoped for a reasonable rate of return on their investment dollars.
“I felt the Loan Fund was really the best of both worlds,” says Herrick. “It’s socially responsible and you get good returns, compared to CDs.”
Herrick would know: she is also a retired CPA, founder and president of her own accounting firm. Upon reading further about VCLF in newsletters and on the website, it was clear to the entire Finance Committee that they’d found the right place for the library’s money. “We were impressed with VCLF,” says Herrick. “We looked at the management. We read everything. (VCLF) has a very good record.”
Thus, she can report back happily and confidently to the many, many stakeholders of the library she serves.
“We’re a very active community,” Herrick says. “We have a devoted following of over 500 supporters. And, during our three year renovation campaign of the library’s Cuthbertson House, more than 400 people contributed to that effort. In the winter time, Greensboro has about 700 - 800 residents, but in the summer that goes up to 3,000,” says Herrick.
Like their counterparts in Greensboro, the board of the Whiting Library in Chester also takes its fiscal responsibilities most seriously. So when Bruce Parks, Chair of Whiting’s Board of Trustees, opened a piece of mail recently to discover an unexpected donation toward the Library’s endowment, (“A good-sized amount!” he emphasizes. “I almost fainted!”) he went in search of the best possible investment options.
Coincidentally, also in the mail that very same day, Parks received a copy of the Vermont Community Loan Fund’s newsletter. He paged through it, and was impressed that the State of Vermont was a VCLF investor, among other high-profile and financially savvy names he found on the roster. “I looked at their history; I saw that the Loan Fund had been around for a long time. I saw that they knew what they were doing, and didn’t lend out money they couldn’t cover.”
Doing his due diligence with the rest of the library’s trustees, Parks investigated traditional bank CDs, rates and returns, across a variety of investment options. “The rates weren’t great. And I’ve become soured on some traditional banks.”
The library’s board was impressed enough to invest the majority of their windfall with VCLF. Parks also says the trustees really liked VCLF’s mission, “helping farmers and small businesses all around the state.” It meant the library could feel good about its investment, while it earned a financial return for its endowment fund at the same time.
Parks even has some words of advice for other Vermont public libraries. “In Vermont, the trustees control the finances of the public libraries,” he says. He thinks they “could really do well” to look into investing with the Loan Fund, too.