Power of Local Philanthropy
Community foundations have a lot to celebrate. Not only is our field celebrating its centennial, but we are in the midst of Community Foundation Week nationwide.
One-hundred years ago the first community foundation was formed in Cleveland, Ohio. The idea was for local philanthropists to create a pool of assets that was independent of their individual charitable interests. So as needs changed over time, this pool would be flexible, there to provide support to the agencies working to mitigate the pressing issues of the time.
Certainly community foundations have become more complex since 1914, but the basic principal is still in place. As repositories of charitable assets – some unrestricted and some donor directed – community foundations utilize deep local knowledge to make grants where they will have the greatest impact. The Community Foundation for Monterey fits this mold, as we implement our vision statement of “Healthy, Safe, Vibrant Communities.” We granted $10 million in 2013 and are on pace to exceed that figure in 2014. The vast majority of these grants are to Monterey County nonprofits, working in areas from childhood development to the environment, arts and culture to services for seniors. We have an ever-increasing commitment to serving all of Monterey County; this means supporting organizations providing a wide range of services, as well as making sure we are touching all parts of our large and diverse county.
We have granted more than $110 million since our inception in 1981.
There are now more than 750 community foundations in the U.S. The CFMC is among the top 10 percent in total assets, with $180 million, a remarkable achievement considering the population size of Monterey County (about 420,000). This speaks directly to the philanthropic spirit that resides here, the stewardship of assets that has been a hallmark of the CFMC, and the confidence local donors have in our organization. Many of our funds are endowed, created through estate gifts, a type of fund and giving that expresses deep trust in the CFMC. The community foundation field has developed an accreditation process called National Standards; the CFMC is certified to be in compliance with National Standards, meaning we are adhering to the top level of governance and grant making in our field.
In the end, it boils down to impact:
- Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands’, a program of the CFMC Women’s Fund, is changing the lives of hundreds of girls through education, leadership development and community engagement. In 2015 we will launch a new Women’s Economic Security initiative utilizing a two-generational approach to help women and their children move out of poverty.
- The CFMC’s Center for Nonprofit Excellenceis equipping the next generation of nonprofit leaders through the LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Institute—and providing key resources to strengthen local nonprofit organizations.
- The Neighborhood Grants Program benefits local groups who beautify their communities and keep them safe, assists support groups such as parents of children with special needs, bolsters youth sports teams and arts organizations that provide positive after-school activities.
Nov. 21 is Philanthropy Day, when donors and nonprofits across the country celebrate the power of giving. And, coincidentally, Monterey County Gives!, the year-end giving opportunity done in partnership with the Monterey County Weekly, kicked off last week.
While philanthropy is a word we historically assign to the very wealthy, its true power comes from the cumulative impact of gifts large and small. This creates a community of giving. So, if you’re inclined, and no matter the cause, please give. Your neighbors, your family, your community will be stronger because of it.