Updated: May 16, 2022
By Abby Rolland
Doug and Terrie Ideker are the co-founders of the Ideker Family Foundation (IFF), which is one of harp-weaver’s clients. Created from the sale of a building materials distribution business that Doug co-owned with Terrie’s brother, IFF focuses on Christian organizations that are based mainly in Colorado and Arizona. The IFF board includes the Idekers’ two sons, their wives, and a family friend. Each family member is actively involved, not only with the Foundation, but with the nonprofit organizations that IFF funds.
I sat down (via Zoom) with Doug and Terrie to better understand their backgrounds, how they learned about giving back, their values and faith and how those drive them, and what they most enjoy about their philanthropic efforts.
How did you both first learn about philanthropy or giving back?
Doug Ideker (DI): My first recollections of giving back started in elementary school. We would bring cans from home and put together food baskets for families during the holiday seasons. I participated in those drives through school, church, and Boy Scouts, and it really gave me the opportunity to see how you can help people.
Terrie Ideker (TI): I’ve always had a desire to help people. It’s been part of who I am. In college, I majored in special education, and joined a sorority where we would raise money, volunteer, and help other people. After graduating, I taught in special ed until I stayed at home to raise our boys.
As you grew up, how did you identify your philanthropic values?
DI: Terrie really provided the example for me on giving. She’s always had a heart for it. I saw how she cared for the children that she taught and loved on them, and she inspired me to want to give back.
She also brought me to Christianity. Our faith drives everything about our philanthropic values. God gave us assets from the sale of the company that He entrusted us with so that we’re able to do what we do now. And we love being involved in philanthropy. It’s what we want to do.
TI: For me, my faith has always been the basis for giving back. We are commanded to be joyful givers, and that’s always been the case for us. It’s been easy to give. We’ve seen how giving can help. We don’t expect anything back, but I’ve felt that God always gives it back.
What do you look for in organizations that you give to?
DI: We have a directed and focused approach to our family’s giving, so first and foremost, we look for organizations whose respective missions align with ours. Our mission statement is to encourage, sustain, grow, and promote family and social values based on Christian faith and principles. If an organization doesn’t fit that mission, then it’s not a fit for our foundation.
We like to see organizations that are willing to collaborate with other similar groups, and share information and successes, instead of just protecting their own turf. We realize that it’s tough for some groups to do so because many of them are smaller, and so fundraising is more challenging, but we like to see multiple organizations working together to reach a common goal.
We also like to work with smaller organizations. Since we’re not a massive foundation, we’ve realized that we can have more of an impact with smaller, almost start-up organizations. Many of the executive directors with whom we work are entrepreneurial – they have a passion for the work, but along the way, discovered that nobody was doing the work in the same way that they could. So, they started their own organization. There are pluses and minuses to creating new nonprofits, but we’ve enjoyed working with them.
How involved are you with the organizations that you give to?
DI: It’s not just about the money for us. When we started IFF, we made a commitment to give of our time and talent too. Each one of us has different backgrounds and experiences, so we use those to help the organizations that we partner with. We sit on boards, serve on advisory committees, and act as mentors.
Over time, we’ve seen that we can multiply what we’re able to do by committing not only our treasure, but our time and talent as well.
TI: As a result of investing our time, treasure, and talent, we’ve formed special relationships along the way with our partner organizations. They’ve done so much more for us than we could ever do for them.
What do you enjoy the most about the organizations that you give to?
DI: I get a lot of joy out of working with people who are so passionate about what they’re doing. They’re doing what they do because they love it and care a great deal about their clients/customers.
For example, we partner with Hope House of Colorado, which helps unwed teen mothers. Hope House gives these young women dignity, helps them earn degrees, find careers, and assists with their children.
TI: And they help stop the generational cycle of poverty.
DI: Exactly. When you hear testimonies from these women, you can see the long-term impact of Hope House – it’s just incredible.
TI: We’ve also seen some of these organizations as they’ve begun and traveled with them as they’ve grown and matured. It’s been amazing to watch. Their work is heart-touching.
How did you become involved with SEI, and then with Teresa (harp-weaver’s Principal)? What has your relationship been like with both parties?
DI: I have a friend who is a financial advisor who introduced us to SEI. After deciding to partner with them, they asked us whether we wanted to set up a private foundation or a donor-advised fund. After careful consideration, we decided to set up a private foundation. We wanted our sons to be involved with what we were/are doing, to play an active role, and to help determine the direction of the foundation and what we wanted to accomplish.
Teresa worked with SEI at the time and helped us get started off on the right foot with regards to the legal aspects of a private foundation, compliance training, and more.
After that, we worked with a third-party administrator for a number of years, However, we felt like we were missing something. Eventually, we returned to working with Teresa after she created her firm harp-weaver.
Over the past 11 years, she’s been a joy to work with. She’s helped us refine our approach by providing a wealth of knowledge. Her investment experience with SEI helps keep our relationship with them streamlined. She’s provided flexibility and fun for us in doing this work but also keeps us in line in terms of compliance.
TI: She’s a security blanket for us. There’s comfort knowing that there is someone who advises us and is always there for us if we have questions.
You have a non-family member on your family foundation board. Why did you decide to include him, and what impact has he had on the Foundation?
DI: From the beginning, we knew that we didn’t want to get tunnel vision in our philanthropy, and we wanted to have someone to help with that.
TI: Our sons were still young when foundation started, and we were all still learning a great deal.
DI: We asked our friend John to join. Over the years, he’s been an integral part of what we do. He’s deeply committed to our mission and the values of IFF.
TI: We’ve learned from each other and are grateful for the perspective and expertise that he’s brought to the table.
What or how do you share your story with people in your network?
DI: We’ve always wanted to set an example for friends and relatives. We’re intentional about sharing what’s going on with these nonprofits with how network.
TI: For example, I have a specific friend at my health club. One day, I told her about Hope House. She became interested, attended their gala, and since then has volunteered for them.
It helps the organizations when people find out about them and want to contribute. It keeps the ball rolling. At Hope House, they have a “relationship tree” that paints the picture of whose introduced whom to the organization. You can visually see how one person can have such a big impact in sharing their story.
Overall, God put people in our lives so that they can learn about the organizations we work with, and that’s been inspiring and so fulfilling.
What has surprised you and your family about being involved in philanthropy?
DI: What’s surprised me the most is the expanded impact of foundation. We started with a relatively small amount of money 18 years ago and look at today. We have more than what we started with. God has blessed these funds, and they keep increasing so that we’re able to do more.
TI: What’s surprised me is that sometimes, we go out on a limb, but we’ve never looked back. We’ve always gone forward. It’s like He says – He’ll give it back ten-fold. We feel like it’s been even more than that.
What impact do you hope your family has made and/or will make?
DI: As we mentioned, we want to be an example for friends and relatives. We also want to leave a legacy. It’s been exciting to watch our daughters-in-law get involved and bring their values to the table.
TI: We also want to continue passing along these values to our grandchildren. We plan on teaching them about giving and how they can give back starting at an early age.
DI: Our plan is to see our philanthropy perpetuated through generations.
What advice do you have for others about their philanthropy and giving?
DI: Find your passion and give to it. Give of yourself to help. It doesn’t matter the level you give at. It’s amazing to participate, regardless of the level. It will change your life.
TI: Take the time to discover joyful giving and give from your heart.
DI: Giving has truly become who we are. The foundation is the hub of our family and what we do.
Giving will change your outlook on everything you do. So, I encourage people to experience the kind of joy that we’ve experienced and have the kind of change in their lives that we’ve been able to have.