Former Southampton Hospital fund-raising chief starts own foundation

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The former president of the Southampton Hospital Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the medical facility, is launching a charitable foundation of his own.

Darren Farlow, who stepped down from the top job at the hospital foundation in June, announced last month the formation of the Hamptons Community Foundation, designed to be a hub for philanthropy on the East End. Mr. Farlow said the Hamptons Community Foundation is a donor-advised fund, which acts as a third-party vehicle to manage charitable donations on behalf of corporations, individuals and families.

All charities to which the Hamptons Community Foundation distributes donations will be thoroughly vetted and must have a demonstrated impact on the East End, said Mr. Farlow, who was a professional fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and the Council of the Americas, both in Manhattan, before his time with the hospital foundation.

Mr. Farlow grew up in Eastport and returned to the Hamptons a year ago when he moved to Water Mill to head the 
hospital foundation. When he stepped down from that foundation, after 
less than six months on the job, he 
said the position was ill fit for him because he was used to operating under a sense of urgency, something he got used to working in Manhattan.

The Hamptons Community Foundation will also raise money for the hospital, as part of its broad focus, according to Mr. Farlow. The foundation will set-up funds for specific areas of charitable interest, such as health care, social services and education.

“I’ve met people throughout the last year that are telling me that ‘We’ve got great schools on the East End of the island, but what happens at three o’clock?’” Mr. Farlow said. “The day is done, so to speak, but it doesn’t have to be.”

With charitable backing, there can be more activities for students to take part in after school lets out, he said.

“There are a lot of things that I think could be done, and what I see as lacking out there is an organization that does that; that specifically says, ‘Hey, this is our community. These are the issues that are relevant to the community, and let’s raise money to support that,’” he said.

Other than the United Way of Long Island, Mr. Farlow said there is no single foundation filling that role. And donating money to the Hamptons Community Foundation will be different than giving to the United Way because there will be more options of where that money can go, he said.

Some local groups serve a similar purpose to what Mr, Farlow has planned. Long Island Community Foundation Executive Director Suzy D. Sonenberg said the foundation she directs has been serving all of Long Island for 30 years, and in the past 10 years alone has distributed 1,300 grants totalling $5 million to various East End charities.

Another non-profit, Have a Heart Community Trust, based in Southampton Village, raises money for local charities and matches persons in need with the appropriate charity to help them.

But Mr. Farlow said he has taken issue with national charities that hold fund-raisers on the East End. In a letter to the editor he wrote in July—one of several letters he wrote in support of Southampton Hospital after stepping down from the hospital foundation—Mr. Farlow posed the question, “How much of the money raised at these Hamptons events actually stays in the Hamptons?”

He is also concerned about foundations that raise money and then sit on it. “I personally don’t believe in holding onto money …” he said. “I want to put the money to work.”

Mr. Farlow predicted that 2009 and beyond will be extremely difficult times for non-profits and charities, but even in poor economic times, everyone should be reaching out to give to charities in their community, whether they pump gas or make Gin Lane a stop on their “Palm Beach, New York, Southampton run,” he said. “I don’t let anybody off the hook.”

Though Mr. Farlow is the one getting the Hamptons Community Foundation off the ground, he said he is not taking any compensation for it at this point in time and might decide to pass the baton of operating the foundation to someone else. The foundation is in its infancy, he said, and he is still putting a board of directors together.

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