Chairman's Perspective - July 2019
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Over the past few months, WKCF has been engaged in strategic planning. The process of engaging a board of 17 members in the work of defining a vision and goals for the next few years can be a daunting task. It takes commitment to carve out the time to meet and focus on exploring our organization’s strengths as well as the areas in which we might do better. It takes faith to speak freely and to dedicate enough time to come to understanding when our fellow board members might have differing views. And it takes an openness to better understanding not only WKCF’s history, but also all aspects of a community foundation’s operations for the purpose of defining the possibilities that will serve our constituencies into the future.
This process has reminded me of the vital importance of nonprofit board service. Technically, nonprofit boards are the actual organization for it is board governance, operating and evaluating that actually breathe life into the mission of a nonprofit. And we all know that board work involves time outside formal board and committee meetings. It often requires reading reports and documents, openly discussing issues and ideas, hiring and evaluating staff, monitoring finances and, yes, even fundraising to make sure that the goals are met.
So, please allow me to take a moment to thank WKCF’s founding, past and present board members not only for their time and input, but also for their willingness to share their perspectives and wisdom. And, then let me thank other nonprofit board members throughout our region for their willingness to serve, to grapple with the ever-occurring challenges facing all mission-driven organizations in difficult times. Thank you for your contributions, for the challenging work of fundraising, and for the many hours spent in meetings, in discussions and in volunteer service. Your service is truly a bedrock of a caring and giving community.
Another benefit of the strategic planning process has been the opportunity to clarify and understand the role of WKCF. Although I am mostly retired these days, I spent a significant part of my career raising funds for nonprofits. Initially, the idea of community foundations and endowed funds worried me. The potential for competing for scarce donor dollars seemed real. Nonprofits worried about “paying the light bill. Some were not able to meet the needs of all clients yet had goals to serve more. How could a community foundation, we wondered, strengthen rather than weaken the vital mission-driving organizations addressing the immediate and current needs of our communities?
Could a community foundation build for a future without doing so at the expense of today. WKCF’s Match Day answered that question for me, although I must admit, I’d become a fan long before Match Day came about. What I realized is that nonprofits have to focus on the services vital to building communities where the needs of children and families, the elderly and the vulnerable are met -- communities in which arts, culture, education, housing and health enrich the lives of residents of all ages and backgrounds. By focusing on planned and estate gifts, by making expertise in those areas available to mission-driven nonprofits, WKCF could both preserve annual giving and provide for the future at the same time.
How does WKCF support rather than compete with nonprofits?
First, two days each month individuals can meet with John Griffin of Stewardship Counseling to explore the ways in which planning can accomplish their goals for family and heirs and sustain their charitable interests as well. By establishing endowed funds, donors will assist mission-driven nonprofits in meeting the changing standards, practices, and technology that all will face in the future, allowing each to focus programs and annual giving on meeting current needs.
Second, WKCF raises legacy funds by assisting donors who wish to support one or more nonprofits or to fund an unrestricted pool of WKCF funds which are granted 3 times each year. The larger the pool, the greater the impact to community nonprofits. A list of recent grantees is found elsewhere in this publication.
And, third, while WKCF’s series of workshops and conferences benefit area nonprofits, it is the ability to assist organizations and donors interested in those organizations in establishing and building their own endowed funds that helps sustain rural communities throughout the region.
As the WKCF Board moves forward in assessing and planning to address the needs of our broader community, we commit ourselves anew to you, our shared community. We hope you’ll learn more and will one day be willing to serve on a nonprofit board or, if you’re already serving, will take a moment to savor the appreciation that comes from our board to yours.