GCCF does much to improve life in Grundy County through leadership and philanthropy

By Devan Gagliardo is the program director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County

Aug. 11, 2016

Prior to me starting my career at the Community Foundation of Grundy County five years ago, I had no idea what a community foundation was and if I’m being honest, I had never even heard of a community foundation before.

So it is no surprise to me that I am still asked, “what exactly do you do?” This is a question regularly asked by friends, family and new acquaintances alike. Where do I even start with this question, because community foundations do so much in their respective communities. My response most often is “improving life in Grundy County through leadership and philanthropy.”

Although this satisfies most people, there is so much more to tell!

Shortly after I began at the foundation, I was sent to a community foundation fundamentals course where I was surprised to learn that community foundations provide community leadership, grants to nonprofits, donor services, technical assistance to other nonprofits, convene collaborations, and promote philanthropy in the community.

I also learned there are many community foundations throughout the country that collectively put billions of dollars back into the community. In fact, according to the Council on Foundations, in 2013 there were 780 community foundations in the U.S. Collectively, those 780 foundations gave more than $5.2 billion! With numbers like that, it is hard to believe that community foundations are still hidden gems.

There is a saying among community foundations: If you’ve seen one community foundation, you’ve seen one community foundation. The reason for this is that each community foundation is unique to the community it serves. Community foundations can be flexible in their services based on the services of other organizations and the needs of the community. Some foundations focus mainly on donor services while others, like the CFGC, split their resources and staff time on donor services and programs.

The CFGC has 50 donor funds with a handful of others in the making. Donor advised funds allow the donor to actively participate in the grantmaking. Agency funds are established by nonprofits organizations to benefit their general purpose.

Field of interest funds are funds in which a donor instructs the foundation to use the fund in specific areas such as education or the arts, the community foundation determines the specific recipient of these funds. Within field of interest funds can also be geographic funds meaning they benefit a smaller community. For example, the CFGC holds the Impact Dwight Fund which was set up to benefit Dwight.

Scholarships are established to provide support to those pursuing some type of training or education.

Designated funds are ones in which the donor instructs the community foundation to pay the available grant dollars to a specific charitable organization indefinitely.

An example of this is the Morris Family YMCA Fund, which was established by a donor to benefit the Morris YMCA only. In addition, the foundation also has an unrestricted fund or competitive grant fund in which nonprofit organizations must apply for grant dollars. This fund is not set up by a donor. In 2015, the CFGC provided $180,415 in grants to more than 60 nonprofits through the funds mentioned above.

What I have shared in this article is only a glimpse of the funds at the CFGC, and it doesn’t even touch on programs, so I’ll continue this piece in future months. CFGC is here as a resource to donors, nonprofits, villages and community members alike and is always willing to talk about our services and programs, and how we can use leadership and philanthropy to improve the life of Grundy County.

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