I recently signed a check for our 2012 Council on Foundations dues. Since I’m the chair of the Council that is probably not surprising. But that’s not my day job. My paycheck comes from being the CEO of Berks County Community Foundation. I was the first employee hired by the foundation, and, like any foundation CEO, I am very cautious about any dollar that leaves this place.
But I happily signed the check for our Council dues because it’s a good investment in our foundation and our community.
In the 18 years since we started the community foundation, we’ve done amazing work with the resources our donors have entrusted to us. We’ve changed lives, we’ve altered the course of our community for the better, and we’ve supported great ideas-just like any community foundation.
As I look back on those years and those accomplishments, I remember how many ways the Council has helped us. We have a large field of interest fund that allows us to help families struggling with financial challenges caused by their children’s severe medical conditions. I know that we were able to take and administer that fund because the Council’s public policy team has protected our ability to make grants to individuals. We learned how to administer funds like this by relying on the Council’s legal staff. We went to conferences where the mechanics of these funds were explained. We still rely on the publication “Grants to Individuals by Community Foundations” as a reference.
In short, our ability to do our job is made possible by the Council’s groundwork. More importantly, this week a little girl with spinal muscular atrophy will go to school in a van we provided for her-one that allows her to safely get in and out-and one that her family could never have afforded.
And that story can be told over and over here and by other community foundations. The Council has helped us navigate the tricky world of economic development grantmaking-but now our grants are helping to create jobs in the community. There’s no way we could have made almost $470,000 in scholarship grants last year without the technical support the Council gave us. Our donor-advised fund program has been protected by the Council’s advocacy.
I know when we write the check that it supports the field. I know that our team benefits from being connected to others doing similar work. But at the end of the day, I sign that check because it benefits the community we serve. The Council makes us possible.
You should write that check too.
Kevin Murphy is president of the Berks County Community Foundation and the Council’s new board chair.