When I first moved to North Carolina, one of the first organizations I met with was the North Carolina Community Foundation. Where I am from, the Greater Milwaukee Community Foundation served a critical role in tackling some of the community’s biggest challenges. I wanted to see if the same was true here.
I joined the Wake County Affiliate Board to help broaden my awareness of the work being done in the area and to play a small part in addressing our community’s biggest challenges.
This past week, I had the honor of reviewing twenty applications for the 2017 Wake County Community Foundation. Grants from this pool of discretionary funds typically range from $500 to $1,000 and are only for organizations with annual budgets under $500,000. As I reviewed the applications, it got me thinking about how nonprofits can best engage with the Community Foundations locally.
I reached out to Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, President and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation and Lori O’Keefe President and CEO of the Triangle Community Foundation to get their perspective and some tips:
Discretionary dollars from Community Foundations are often limited. It is important to remember that the Community Foundation is a collection of donors and funds with different focus and areas of interest. This means you cannot expect magic money from the foundations, but it also means building relationships with staff of the local Foundations can reap other benefits. When they understand the community need you are addressing, opportunities arise to make introductions and share your results with others.
Community Foundations are part of the local community so your current and prospective donors often have funds at the local foundation. Let your donors know that you are aware how their dollars are coming to you!
Just having your endowment with a Community Foundation can provide visibility to your organization and often increases access.
They can help you expand or develop your program. For organizations with a small development team that may not have the expertise on staff, Community Foundations can be a great resource.
There are so many great Community Foundation's in our state, take the time to learn about the ones in your area. Have a strategy on how you engage with them. They are extremely hard-working professionals trying to make an impact just like you and your organization.