The Metro Scene

Citizen of the Year: Philanthropy

Burton Ward

Burton Ward has been involved with CACF since 2008 and was named president in 2011.

By Sandra Long, J.D.

The Central Alabama Community Foundation (CACF) celebrated its thirtieth (30th) year in 2017, and decided to celebrate their anniversary in a unique way. President Burton Ward, along with the input of her four fellow employees, members of the Board of Directors, and members of the community decided to choose thirty non-profit recipients to each receive a surprise grant. (The Foundation received more than 11,532 nominations from 300 non-profit organizations). President Ward explained that they adopted the TV method of Sweepstakes surprises with the personal delivery of oversized checks, complete with balloons and a video. (Many of the videos can be viewed on their Facebook page).

Thirty non-profit recipients unexpectedly received a check for three thousand dollars ($3,000) each, over the duration of 2017. Some of the following recipients include: Camp ASCCA; the Humane Shelter of Elmore County; Aid to Inmate Mothers; Adullam House; Habitat for Humanity of Autauga and Chilton Counties; ClefWorks; Friends of the Autauga-Prattville Public Library; Children’s Center Adult Program; Wiregrass Area Food Bank; Booker T. Washington Magnet High School Choral Department; Child Protect; Seman Volunteer Fire Department; and the Alabama Wildlife Foundation. (A complete list is available on their website at

CACF was established in 1987 by Mr. Fred A. Richard Jr. and a group of civic/community leaders. They started the Montgomery Area Community Foundation (MACF) and distributed over $100,000 in grants to area charitable organizations in their first year, holding over $600,000 in assets. Within ten years, the Foundation reached more counties in the region than they expected, so a decision was made to rename the Foundation to more appropriately describe those they serve in Central Alabama. When Mr. Richard passed away in 2002, he left CACF a bequest of over $5 million, establishing the Richard Estate Fund, an unrestricted fund to enable the Foundation to reach out to as many people as possible.

President Burton Ward has been involved with the organization since 2008 and was named president in 2011.
President Ward sat down to discuss the Foundation and admitted, “It is hard to explain exactly what the Foundation does, as we serve both individuals and businesses helping to partner with them in order to find non-profits with needs. Often we pool resources in order to make a larger donation.” She never knows what the next day will bring. She makes site visits and sometimes meets people who are seasoned workers in the non-profit sector, as well as individuals who may need “seed money” with start-up organizations. Sometimes she talks with donors who want to give a donation as a result of a catastrophe, but they do not know what types of things are needed, or how to reach a specific community. She shared an incident from a few years ago about a tornado that touched down in a trailer park in Elmore County. Sadly, only one child survived the tornado’s wrath. So, President Burton worked with some donors, and through the Foundation, found a family who wanted to adopt the surviving child. The Foundation was able to provide funding to pay for the adoption.

The Foundation currently serves ten counties within Alabama, with one employee in a Dothan office. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization, with a Board of Directors. They accept donations of all types, including cash, stocks, life insurance, retirement funds, and endowments, among others. Since they are a Foundation, they operate similarly to an endowment themselves, and do not have to end their fiscal year with a zero balance, which is part of the reason it is so strong. They currently have 200 funds and each year distribute over $3,000,000.00 through hundreds of grants and scholarships.

The scope of the Foundation is broad, as they are able to award grants to address programs and projects in education, human services, health, cultural arts, and other civic concerns. President Ward indicated that any donor can direct the way they want their donation to be distributed.

CACF now has assets of $61 million, and over the years has distributed over $59 million.
For more information, visit the website at or contact President Ward directly at; 35 S. Court Street, Montgomery, 36104; (334) 264-6223; like them on




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