Community Foundation facilitates largest charitable gift in organization's history

May. 3, 2022 null

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines announced at its Celebration Luncheon held Monday, May 2, it has recently facilitated the largest gift in the organization’s over 50-year history thanks to the tremendous generosity of lifelong Des Moines residents, Harriet and Locke Macomber.

Harriet and Locke were engaged participants and volunteer leaders of the local organizations they enjoyed throughout their lifetimes. After Locke’s passing in 1998, Harriet continued her involvement as a loyal patron to many nonprofits through her volunteerism and annual giving. During this time, she also began planning how she could continue to support the causes she cared for after her lifetime. Harriet worked with her professional advisors to include gifts from her estate to charitable giving funds established in her family’s name at the Community Foundation to honor Locke and the generations of family members before them who called Des Moines home.

Upon Harriet’s passing in 2020, our community lost not only a committed volunteer but an intentional and strategic charitable spirit. Her careful planning and astute investing ensured her impact would continue. With Harriet's instruction, over $45 million will create lasting endowments forever benefiting eight local organizations including: The BWA Foundation, the Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines Symphony, Drake University Law School, Orchard Place, United Way of Central Iowa, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.


"As a 50-year BWA Foundation board member, Harriet's significant involvement was her long time participation on the finance committee. She assisted in developing investment guidelines and policy to financially aid Polk County organizations serving women and children. Eventually the committee recommended joining with the Community Foundation to further assist with BWA's investments. BWA Foundation is especially honored with this gift from the Macombers," says Kate Gillette, BWA Foundation president.

“The Macombers were great supporters of this community, and especially the Des Moines Art Center. Harriet was a board member and later an honorary trustee, but most importantly, she was a participant. With this financial support, the Art Center can more fully participate in the art of our time, bringing contemporary art and diverse audiences together through major exhibitions, as well as acquire works of art that have been out of financial reach in the past,” shares Jeff Fleming, Des Moines Art Center director.

“The legacy of Harriet and Locke’s philanthropic efforts have one common element; they loved Des Moines and were committed to making it a better place to live. We are all beneficiaries of their gifts as will be future generations,” says Maestro Joseph Giunta of the Des Moines Symphony

“The generosity of the Macombers will allow Drake Law School to enhance the education of our students through providing important educational experiences. Beyond that, the gift will also serve thecommunity through the pro bono service provided by our Legal Clinic to start-up businesses and nonprofit groups in Des Moines. Harriet and Locke’s vision and investment in the law school celebrates and amplifies the spirit of the University’s campaign ‘The Ones’ which demonstrates how individuals can make a powerful impact - and collectively we can positively transform our community,” shares Jerry Anderson, Dean and Richard M. and Anita Calkins Distinguished Professor of Law, Drake University Law School.

“This legacy gift establishing the Harriet S. and J. Locke Macomber Orchard Place Fund is the single largest gift in our 135-year history,” said Orchard Place CEO Anne Starr. “It is fitting that Harriet and Locke who, during their lifetimes, cared so deeply about the youth and families we serve, will continue their lifegiving impact on our mission of developing strong futures for youth facing mental, emotional, and behavioral health challenges. Locke first joined the Orchard Place Board in 1969. He became president in 1979 and played an instrumental role in expanding Orchard Place Campus to 10 acres. Their family’s loyal and generous giving history with Orchard Place spans more than 50 years. Thanks to their planned gift, their legacy will live on forever. We are forever grateful.”

“We are honored to have been selected as a recipient of this generous endowment,” says Mary Sellers, president of United Way of Central Iowa. “The Macombers were engaged partners, with Locke serving as our campaign chair in 1975 and through the couple’s support of United Way as Tocqueville Society members for more than 15 years. This gift will allow United Way to continue to foster a thriving community, just as we have for the last 100 years.”

“This legacy gift to the Y means the Macomber’s story does not end. Their family name will live on by giving youth opportunities to belong and participate in experiences they may otherwise not have access to. Because of their support, the Y will continue to touch countless lives through the work of youth development, impacting generations to come. We are humbled,” shares Vicky Foresman, vice president of Mission Advancement at the YMCA of Greater Des Moines.