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The First Foundation, Inc.
First Baptist Church Dalton

Created in 1996, the First Foundation, Inc. was established by First Baptist Church Dalton to
assist in undergirding and supporting the objectives and ministries of the Church both now and
into the future. When a current gift is made to the First Foundation or when someone remembers
the First Foundation in their will or estate, the gift can be endowed, which enables the Church to perpetuate the gift through the endowment. However, gifts can also be made to the First Foundation that can be requested to not be endowed, if that is the giver's preferred option. 

The First Foundation, Inc. assists both members and interested community contributors to be
faithful witnesses through their sustaining contributions to Christ’s work in the missions and
ministries of First Baptist Church Dalton. As such, the First Foundation’s purposes shall
include, but not be limited to:

The support of the missions and benevolent ministries of First Baptist Church Dalton.

The support of the education of persons preparing for full-time Christian vocational ministries.

The support of the capital and facility needs of the Church.

The support of other ministries as approved by the First Foundation’s trustees, which are aligned
with the Core Values of the Church.


The Trust Committee met and began the plans to create a Trust for First Baptist Church Dalton on February 22, 1996. This group outlined the plans to begin the process of creating the by-laws, developing the Article of Incorporation and gaining 501-C-3 status. They also outlined who would serve on the first board of Trustees: Ben Laughter, Allen Petway (Vice Chairperson), Bill Lusk, Bryan McAllister (Treasurer), Tracy Ward, Debbie Haney, Starr Hanson, Jack Turner and Jimmy Clark (Chairperson). In addition to these, Phillip Cannon was named as Executive Director of the First Foundation at the outset and he remained in this role through December 4, 2020. Bryan McAllister served as Executive Director from early 2021 through February 2, 2023. At that point in time, Justin Safley assumed the role of Executive Director and remains in this position to the present. 

In June of 1996, the By-Laws of the First Foundation, Inc were presented to the Deacons and the congregation of First Baptist Church Dalton. The Church discussed the purpose of the First Foundation and it was determined that it is not intended to be a “deficit tool” but to be used for the purposes listed above.

During 1996, the First Foundation ran a deficit, but quickly made it up in 1997. Several donations came in during 1997 with two of these being significant. $100,000 from the Treadwell Estate and $110,000 from The Dixie Davis Estate. As such, the First Foundation, which arose from humble beginnings, began to fulfill its mission to further the work of God’s Kingdom.

In the early years of the First Foundation, a gift was also made from the charitable remainder trust of Evelyn Nesmith that was in excess of $800,000, which greatly lifted the ability of the First Foundation to make a significant impact. Much growth has been experienced since that time, including a substantial gift of $1,000,000 being made anonymously, in honor of Lamar Hennon, in 2018.

Through the years, many in the congregation of First Baptist Church Dalton have served on the Board of Trustees and have been diligent in their work to grow the First Foundation and, subsequently, increase the funds distributed through grants. After Jimmy Clark led the First Foundation as Chair in its early years, Dot Reich stepped in as Chair in 2000, followed by Chip Sellers, who took over as Chair in 2007 and remains to the present. During all of the years, up to the present, of the First Foundation's existence, Allen Petway has served as Vice-Chair and Bryan McAllister has served as the Treasurer. Starr Hanson also served as a Trustee from inception through 2021.

As of the end of 2023, the First Foundation has assets with a fair market value of just under $4,000,000. Since its inception total endowed contributions to the First Foundation have been just over $3,200,000. The total amount of grants issued by the First Foundation since inception have been just over $1,200,000 with a large majority of these having been made to the Missions category. 

Why give to the First Foundation?

Enduring Witness

Your gift to the First Foundation will be invested, that investment will grow and the earnings on those investments will be carefully distributed for years to come. With endowed gifts to the First Foundation, the gift you make today will support ministries of the Church and support the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, 100 years from now and beyond. But gifts that are requested not to be endowed, will also be utilized for the same purposes and with a similarly profound effect. 


Giving to and through the First Foundation provides an opportunity to reserve a portion of the blessings God has poured out on us to be set apart for service to Him for generations to come.


Giving to the First Foundation from the financial resources entrusted to us matches our actions with our words. Living our faith provides a witness and a model for our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our neighbors who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus.


The First Foundation keeps all necessary records and simplifies the giving process. Giving to the First Foundation takes less time and resources than creating your own private foundation or attempting to manage many gifts.


By combining your gift with the gifts of others that have already contributed to the First Foundation, your gift can be invested, experience growth and then the earnings be distributed to support more mission related activities than it could ever do on its own. 


The Trustees of the First Foundation are committed to responsible stewardship of all gifts and a sound financial policy. The First Foundation, several years after its establishment, determined to endow all previous gifts and future gifts. This was done, at that time, so as to protect the principal funds of the First Foundation and to allow for grant delivery for the purposes that the First Foundation was created, in perpetuity. In early 2023, a decision was made by the Board of Trustees to also allow a giver to make a gift(s) and request that it not be endowed. The collective knowledge of the Trustees and the professionals the First Foundation employs, should provide assurance that your desire to further the Kingdom through your gift, whether endowed or not endowed, will be realized.

Tax Benefits & Estate Planning

The First Foundation provides an opportunity for planned giving to take full advantage of applicable tax laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can make a donation to the First Foundation?

Anyone can make a donation to the First Foundation; however, the First Foundation is
established especially as a means for Church members to support the missions and ministries of First Baptist Church Dalton.

What are the benefits of making a donation to the First Foundation?

Quite literally the benefits of making a donation to the Foundation are eternal! The First Foundation offers the option to make endowed gifts. Endowed gifts have an eternal quality meaning that only the earnings from your gift will be used in the First Foundation’s efforts. Thus, your gift will bear fruit for generations to come. But gifts that are not endowed are also an option and these bring immediate sustaining assistance to the ministries that the First Foundation supports. Your gift, whether endowed or not, also ensures that the excellence in ministry at First Baptist Church Dalton will continue both now and in the future. There are also specific tax advantages that are associated with making current and deferred gifts.

Should a donation to the First Foundation be in addition to my current budget offering?

Yes, your donation to the First Foundation should be in addition to your regular tithes and

May I designate how the income from my gift is to be used?

Yes, you may designate how your gift is to be used in line with the specific funds that have been established within the First Foundation. Four fund areas are now offered: Missions and
Benevolence, Capital and Facility needs, Education, and Undesignated (non-specified

How are the investment decisions of the First Foundation made?

The First Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees who are elected annually by the
Church. The Trustees of the First Foundation make all decisions related to First Foundation
monies, investments and allocations. The Trustees believe that the investment decisions should emphasize the safety and preservation of the invested funds as a first priority and then attempt to maximize the investment return available with the least amount of overall relative risk. Historically, the First Foundation has maintained an Investment Committee, made up of individuals that are experienced in this realm. This committee makes investment
recommendations to the full Board of Trustees.

When is the earned income of the Foundation allocated?


The First Foundation’s Trustees preserve and strive to grow the principal value held by the First Foundation. The Trustees make annual distributions (grants) from a portion of the earnings of the endowment funds.

What is the procedure for making a gift to the First Foundation?

Contact the Associate Pastor at the Church office for a preliminary discussion in regards to your gift and how you would choose for it to be used. Gifts can also be made directly to the First Foundation at the listed address. A list of tax and estate planning professionals is available if you do not already have someone working with you in those areas.

Types of Gifts

Here are three kinds of gifts you can make to the First Foundation.

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Gifts that are made during your lifetime.

Cash is the easiest gift to make to the First Foundation, or you can pledge a gift of cash over time. Memorials and honorariums can easily be made to the First Foundation. Other such gifts might include stocks, mutual fund shares, certificates of deposit, life insurance policies, annuities, personal property and real estate.

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Gifts that may provide you with income for life.

Current gifts of cash or other assets such as gift annuities, charitable remainder annuity trusts, and charitable remainder unitrusts are accepted by the

First Foundation.

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Gifts that are deferred until your death.

These gifts will come to the First Foundation because you have included the First Foundation in
your will or have made the First Foundation the beneficiary or co-beneficiary of a financial asset,
such as an IRA, 401(k) or 403(b) retirement plan, or life insurance policy.

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