On the 100th anniversary of the community foundation – as we contemplate how these crucial institutions can be even more relevant in the next century of their existence than they have been in their first – it’s crucial to look hard at what donors value.
In southeast Indiana, bordering the Ohio River across from Louisville, Kentucky, only 25% of the workforce has an associate’s, bachelor’s, or professional degree, compared to 38% nationally. Yet one in four – over 40,000 people – of the region’s adult workers has earned some college credits. To the community foundations that serve this region, those 40,000 people represent an opportunity to increase the economic advantages of our communities, lure new businesses to our region, and enhance the quality of life for this and future generations.
In summer 2012 I was a brand new Program Officer and wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined a group from the Jewish Funders Network (JFN) on a rural bus tour of eight youth camps in three days. My traveling companions were members and guests of the JFN Disability Peer Network. We were all trying to understand better how well children with disabilities are included in the Jewish camping movement.
Many refugee youth who come to Lansing arrive as older teens. They often don’t have enough time to earn all of the credits needed to graduate from high school, regardless of educational history or even English-language fluency. Students age out of the public school system at 20, with or without a diploma.
The Community Foundation, since 2011, has allocated resources for grants we call “strategic grants.” Our strategic grant journey began in 2009, when one of the Board of Trustees three-year strategic planning initiatives was to become more focused in its efforts to improve lives in Frederick County.
When disaster strikes, who do you call first? Unless she’s a volunteer firefighter, you probably didn’t say your accountant.
Just a few days after an EF4 tornado tore through Central Arkansas on April 27, 2014, I drove to the community hardest hit by the storm - Vilonia, Arkansas - to meet with community leaders about beginning the process of long-term recovery. On the outskirts of town, I saw the familiar scene that anyone familiar with Vilonia would know. But then I entered downtown.
In our tornado-, flood-, drought-, ice-, you-name-it belt of the Midwest, we live by the maxim that it’s not “if,” but “when” the next natural disaster will strike.
Would we be happy if you read about our “Good Deeds” initiative, thought to yourself, “How nice” and then moved on? Not so much.
The idea of coordinated giving days is gaining momentum. These social media campaigns provide an image-building opportunity for community foundations as well as opportunities to build the capacity of our grantees to raise money for themselves.