Story Wright remembered it happening at almost every meeting: The board of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation would find before it a pressing need — a need that didn’t fit tidily into a particular niche or make sense to draw from a fund designated to a precise purpose or region.
Whether it was about child care or community-building or conservation, such needs seemed ever-present. Had it not been for a pool of flexible funds available at the Foundation, such needs would have been much harder to meet.
“Having been on the board gave me a real sense of [flexible] funds being able to fill so many of these little pieces that weren’t able to be filled by restricted gifts,” Wright said in an interview in 2011.
When Story Wright began thinking about making her own gift to the Foundation, it was immediately clear to her how she would do it. She would set up a Flexible Fund for New Hampshire, which the Foundation could put to use in years to come in ways that fit pressing and ever-changing needs.
“I want it to be able to fill needs that can’t be met otherwise or are difficult to meet otherwise,” Wright said in 2011. And, she said, since such needs are impossible to foresee, the Foundation — with its staff expertise, longevity and knowledge of the state — was the right place for her gift.
In 2010, Wright set up a charitable remainder trust with the Foundation. She continued to draw income as she needed to during her lifetime, and the remainder went into the E. Story Wright fund at the Foundation after she died in 2014.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen 50 or 100 years from now,” she said in that 2011 interview. “I’ve worked on so many charities, and they’re all worthwhile. The Charitable Foundation for me was the perfect place to leave it. The Foundation is involved in everything, and couldn’t possibly outgrow the need for it.”
Grants from her flexible fund have already supported the arts, environmental conservation, help build new playground equipment and increase opportunities for young people in New Hampshire.
Wright knew the Foundation from the inside-out: She served on the Board of Directors from 1995 to 2003 and was a member of the Education Committee; she was also on the planning committee that led to the formation of the Foundation’s Monadnock Region, and served on the Monadnock Region advisory board. She trusted the Foundation’s staff to know the state’s needs and to handle her funds in the state’s best interests.
Wright and her husband, Tom, settled in Dublin, New Hampshire in 1973. Tom Wright passed away in 2016.
Story Wright’s community involvement in New Hampshire started — as is so often the case — with involvement in her children’s school. Then she ran for school board. And pretty soon she was involved in a string of community and charitable organizations — from the Monadnock Conservancy to the Sharon Arts Center and the Peterborough Players.
“It sort of happened,” she said in 2011. “Once you do one (board), someone says ‘would you…would you…’” Then-Foundation President Lew Feldstein called with a similar request.
“I knew the reputation of the Charitable Foundation, which was incredible,” Wright said. So, when Feldstein called to ask if she would serve on the Foundation’s board, “I just said, ‘Yes!’”
Wright was on the board during the time of the founding of both New Futures and the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies — institutions that have had significant and lasting impacts on the state.
Wright was content to know that — whatever future needs arose — the Foundation would use her funds to meet needs that are critical to New Hampshire communities.
This article originally appeared in 2011. It has been updated.