The Weekly Fanfare of Philanthropy

by Carl Little

Last week was a quiet one at the Maine Community Foundation — not! Between debriefing about the annual Inspiring Philanthropy evening and preparing for the upcoming Feed a Family campaign, we barely had time to celebrate Community Foundation Week.

The Maine Community Foundation hosts its Inspiring Philanthropy evening around this time every fall. It';s an opportunity to bring a range of friends together — donors, nonprofit leaders, friends of the foundation — to reconfirm the power of giving. Over the years, we've invited engaging speakers, including Julie Salamon, Bill Strickland, and Lewis Feldstein, each of them sharing their best ideas about using philanthropy to build community.

This year's speaker, Thomas J. Tierney, drove up from Boston to share some of the insights from the book Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, which he co-authored with Joel Fleishman. Among his messages: learn to do more with less, stick with focus, and avoid wishful thinking. At the reception afterwards, guests shared some of their takeaways with a reporter from Portland Press Herald. While I was little perturbed that the article's subhead had our name wrong, I realized we are the Maine Community Center, not to mention the Maine Community Fund, a more common misnomer.

As for the Feed a Family campaign, this is the third year running that we have partnered with Maine Public Broadcasting Network to support the Good Shepherd Food Bank in its mission to feed hungry community members. It provides more than 10 million meals annually through a network of more than 600 partner agencies that include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, and youth programs.

We have the Vermont Community Foundation to thank for the idea for this partnership. Some four years ago our New England neighbors to the west finessed a similar partnership and someone at Maine Public Broadcasting took notice and approached us with the idea. It has been, as our president and CEO Meredith Jones puts it in a new video, a win-win-win collaboration. I'd be glad to talk with other community foundations about how this works.

Community Foundation Week may have come and gone without any official fanfare, minus our continued efforts to make the multifaceted point that giving counts, communities can only work when people have food to eat, and we all have a role to play in creating a foundation for the future.

Carl Little is director of communications and marketing for the Maine Community Foundation, a member of the Council on Foundations.

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