A periodic message from Community Foundation Board Chair, Gerry Amodio, and President, Jim Williamson
It is an understatement to say that these are extraordinary times. The current – and projected – economy makes this an undeniable truth the likes of which we are all still struggling to understand, define and adjust to. Couple that with an uncertain and likely severely reduced State Budget and we know that our area’s front-line non profit organizations are confronted with the human service equivalent of a “Perfect Storm” - a higher and more complex demand for services, with far fewer resources available to meet them.
The Community Foundation has been no less effected by this environment, as evidenced by the 30 percent decrease in our Corporate Endowment this past year, and its immediate negative impact on our Annual Spending Policy for Discretionary Grants for 2009. In an effort to make the best decisions about where to put our reduced resources in these unprecedented times, this spring, the Community Foundation’s Board extensively discussed potential adjustments to our Investment Guidelines for the foreseeable future. As a result of these deliberations, the points outlined below will guide us in our grant making decisions for the balance of this year and most likely into 2010, if not beyond. We want to make you and the nonprofit organizations you support aware of these adjustments before approaching the Community Foundation to address the new funding needs that this environment will undoubtedly create.
1. Less emphasis will be placed on funding new programs. Rather, an emphasis will be given to preserving and protecting core services that are fundamental to an organization’s mission and the community.
2. We will consider operating support to protect the core mission of organizations that have a proven track record, strong leadership and mission and longevity. It is important to the Community Foundation that we ensure the continuation of those services that are deemed most critically important to the community’s well-being. In evaluating these types of requests, however, we will need to ask more questions and would expect to see clear evidence of solid long-term planning which reflects this new operating reality.
3. We will consider operating support for the delivery of basic human needs and other key services needed due to the effects of the economic downturn. The demand for agencies to increase the provision of basic human needs (food, shelter and clothing) is expected to continue. In addition, demand for key services (legal, eviction, domestic violence and others) is likewise expected to increase as a direct result of the economy, and for many, the end of Unemployment and other federal and state benefits. The Community Foundation feels it should be responsive to this demand and facilitate expansion of these critical services as needed and possible.
4. Requests for operating support from organizations with a history of past support from the Community Foundation may be considered. Here again, organizations must show evidence that they have gone through an internal process of cost-reduction and/or realistic revenue-enhancement analysis focused on core service preservation.
5. Less emphasis will be placed on capital grants. Although the Community Foundation understands it is one of the very few area sources for capital grants, these requests will be handled on a case by case basis and analyzed based on the increased efficiency and effectiveness that will result, dollars raised to date and availability of Community Foundation funds.
Our commitment to serving as a key resource for the community’s non profits and by extension, those they serve, is one that we take very seriously. There has never been a more important time for us to be thoughtful and flexible in our grant making, and to offer accessible leadership to the nonprofits who provide needed services in our four-town service area. We trust you agree that this approach is exactly what you would expect from your Community Foundation.
Thank you, in advance, for your trust, confidence and continuing support.
The Community Foundation Advocates
Click here to read Jim Williamson’s Op/Ed response to the new TV show, The Philanthropist.
Click here to read an Op/Ed by Board member Charles Leach, M.D. and Jim Williamson advocating for restored funding to the state’s Family Resource Centers.
Click here to read our response to a Wall Street Journal article on the growing role of Community Foundations in philanthropy.