After inspiring the state and nation — and even some donors abroad — to give to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital last year via an impromptu campaign that generated more than $3 million, “Iowa legend” Carson King has launched his own foundation.
King, 24, of Altoona, officially registered the not-for-profit with the Iowa Secretary of State on Dec. 10. He didn’t publicly announce its debut until Feb. 2, just hours before the Super Bowl.
While King’s initial fundraiser was exclusive to the UI Children’s Hospital, his foundation aims to help “children and families in times of need” through a range of causes and programs — including food banks, shelter homes, hospital foundations and other local charities.
The foundation aims to benefit those organizations, the communities they serve and the people they effect both directly and indirectly through fundraising and helping others fundraise.
“There’s a lot of red tape when it comes to just donating to families,” King said.
His foundation, he said, hopes to alleviate some of that stress with expertise and knowledge about how to organize a fundraiser in compliance with state laws and mandates.
“We could come in and help them set it up and get a little notoriety,” he said.
The organization has not yet jumped into any major projects or initiatives, although King said he’s planning some foundational fundraisers and events for the spring and summer to build up resources — such as a concert series, for example.
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“We need a little bit built up — because right now we have like $600 in the foundation savings,” he said. “Once we actually get built up and do a couple events and actually raise a little money and save a little bit through the foundation, we’ll be able to actually then go out really impact and reach out.”
King’s foundation has a four-person board, which he serves as president and includes his mother and two former bosses. Its organizational documents show its exclusive purpose is to help children and families “in times of need” and unite communities in doing so.
“No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be carrying on of propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation,” according to the documents filed with the state. “And the corporation shall not participate in or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”
King as a fundraiser — a role he only stumbled into last fall — has seemed to transcend social divides and unite partisan factions, even as they grow wider and farther apart.
More than 35,000 donors from all 50 states and Puerto Rico gave nearly $1 million to King’s Venmo account — netting matching contributions from Venmo and Anheuser Busch — after the former Iowa State University student showed up with handwritten sign seeking beer money during ESPN’s live coverage of the Iowa-Iowa State football game in September.
As televisions viewers began responding to his appeal for a “replenished” Busch Light supply with contributions to his online account, King’s mind about how to use the money began to change.
He announced via social media a shift in plans for the mounting cash — and his redirection to the Children’s Hospital inspired an onslaught of donations, from $10 to thousands from individuals and corporations.
“Sept. 14 was a day that changed my life,” according to a quote on King’s foundation website. “It was also the day that has allowed me to change the lives of thousands of others thanks to the generosity of many donors.”
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King in October transferred all the payments made to his Venmo to the UI Center for Advancement, which handles philanthropy for the university. The center also had received the matching gift from Venmo at that time and was processing the Busch donation.
The center on Monday didn’t immediately confirm for The Gazette that it has received the total King-related donation of more than $3 million.
King — who refused to take any cut of the proceeds from his original Children’s Hospital campaign, even passing on a share from a Carson King bobblehead the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum announced in October — is continuing in that fashion with his new foundation.
He’s also made himself available to speak — at schools and other events — about the “power of social media, both good and bad.” He also speaks on “random acts of kindness and how one person can make a difference.”
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