Partnering With Donor Advisors
A Message from CFMC President/CEO Dan Baldwin
Community foundations have always thought of themselves as important partners with their donor advisors. Conversations around the formation of funds typically begin with a description of our ability to match a donor’s interest to community need, or how the CFMC will connect the donor to urgent or emerging circumstances they may want to support. I’ve been the CEO of a community foundation since 2002, so you can imagine I’ve given this description more than a few times.
In 2011 the CFMC began to make real structural investments to build on our ability to follow through with this partnership. We purchased Donor Central, a program that allows donor advisors to log into their fund account, look at balances and make grant recommendations. Donor Central also allows us to provide graphs that show grant history by interest area, size and geography.
We then hired our first Philanthropic Services Officer (PSO), essentially a relationship manager for our donor advisors. Donor advisors quickly began utilizing Donor Central, and calling the PSO for support. In 2013 we began sending donor advisors a digest of select grant applications we’d received in our Community Impact grant program, offering them co-investment opportunities. While the first-year response was modest, our donor advisors told us they liked receiving the list. The number of donor advisors participating has grown each year since.
In 2014 we added a second Philanthropic Services Officer. In the meantime, we’d also changed the name of the department from Resource Development to Philanthropic Services. We felt this was a truer statement of our priorities. Also in 2014 we began talking to some of our long-time fund holders whose funds were endowed, and wondered whether they wanted to convert them to non-endowed, tremendously increasing their grantmaking capacity. Many took advantage of this.
What’s all this mean? It means that when an event like the Food Bank fire occurs, and the CFMC board commits $50,000 from our unrestricted fund, and we then put a call out to our donor advisors, they quickly respond through Donor Central, speak directly with their PSO, and many have much more capacity to give. The results were amazing. Why is this so important? Because in the end, the story isn’t about the CFMC, it is about supporting the ability of the Food Bank to seamlessly continue alleviating food insecurity in Monterey County, fire or no fire. It’s about giving together.