Martha and the other Ingram Family members have all been the donors to and/or directors of, various family foundations and private Donor Advised Funds over the years. Currently most of the Ingram family relies on Donor Advised Funds administered through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CMFT) for their philanthropy. The move to Donor Advised Funds holds several advantages over those of a family foundation; not the least of which is the ability make large gifts anonymously and not disclose asset and donation information.
Because of this information regarding the family’s recent giving in particular remains scarce. However, there is some documented information about Ingram family giving.
The Ingram Charitable Fund
The largest and best known Ingram family (public) foundation is the Ingram Charitable Fund. The foundation was established by E. Bronson and Martha Ingram in 1991. Martha and her sons, John and Orrin are the currently the foundation’s trustees along with Nicholas Zeppos, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. The foundation’s mission is “primarily to support Vanderbilt University and to provide financial support to other publicly supported charities”, and its charter specifies that it must dedicate 40% of its income and assets to Vanderbilt University.
At the time of the foundation’s establishment, the Ingram family had already had a 50-year relationship with Vanderbilt. Bronson Ingram's father, Orrin Henry Ingram, served on the University's board from 1952 to 1963. Three of the Ingram's four children graduated from Vanderbilt; David B. Ingram and John R. Ingram received MBA degrees from the Owen Graduate School of Management, and Orrin H. Ingram earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of Arts and Science.
In 1998 Martha Ingram and the Ingram family made a highly publicized gift of $300 million to Vanderbilt University through the Ingram Charitable Fund. The gift was to support Vanderbilt's programs in teaching, research, health care, public service and athletics. At the time, the gift was known to be the largest private gift ever made to an American college or university.
In 1999 Vanderbilt University received a $56 million gift from the Ingram Charitable Fund to name the E. Bronson Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University. The gift came four years after Bronson’s death, and was the lead gift of a $100 million campaign at Vanderbilt to end cancer. Martha and her son Orrin were the co-presidents of the campaign.
In addition to establishing the cancer center at Vanderbilt, the Ingram family has over the years provided financial support for a number of Vanderbilt schools and programs at unknown amounts. These include over 50 gifts to the Ingram Scholars at Vanderbilt; these go to high-achieving students who excel in community service. There have also been gifts to the Blair School of Music, the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center, Vanderbilt’s athletics programs, research programs at the School of...