First Union Corp. said it has formed a charitable funds services group to help nonprofit foundations and endowments in the South Atlantic region with financial planning, tax consulting, and specialized accounting.

The new unit, under the direction of senior vice president Kenneth R. Brown, will be part of First Union's capital management group, which includes the Charlotte-based company's trust and brokerage operations. Mr. Brown, 56, had previously managed the charitable funds group within First Union's North Carolina bank.

"By focusing on it here in North Carolina, we really began to see what a vast world it was," Mr. Brown said. "It's a separate world with very unique needs, very different from personal trust and retirement plans. This new unit is a way to take this organization-wide in terms of its focus."

First Union estimates that charitable foundations in its potential market area hold about $20 billion of assets.

While Mr. Brown will continue his personal management of the operation in North Carolina, he will be assisted by five state or regional directors: Kevin Bartlett to cover the District of Columbia, Maryland, and northern Virginia; Carolyn Alley in western and southern Virginia; Thomas Richardson in South Carolina; Robert Steinbruegge in Georgia; and Maggy Williams in Florida.

"We have asked Ken Brown to recruit and lead a team of charitable fund specialists across our company to provide an ongoing focus to this rapidly growing charitable funds market," said P. Edwin Glass, head of affluent- client services for First the capital management group.

"We don't do it in a centralized way," Mr. Brown said. "We like to keep the local focus there."

First Union's new unit will be responsible for managing more than $2 billion of assets belonging to more than 750 organizations, including hospitals, educational institutions, religious organizations, and various private and community foundations. First Union had previously served these organizations through its trust department in the various state subsidiaries.

Other banks active in the management of charitable assets include Wachovia Corp., Winston-Salem, N.C.; SunTrust Banks Inc., Atlanta; State Street Boston Corp.; and Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp.

Mr. Brown joined First Union in 1979 as vice president and regional trust officer. He had previously spent 19 years with C&S Bank of South Carolina.

While working in South Carolina, Mr. Brown served as a member of the Furman University board of trustees, where he gained insight into the operations of nonprofit organizations.

"Many private foundations have no idea what to do," Mr. Brown said. "They have this money and they don't understand the importance of the asset allocation decision.

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