Happy Wednesday, Decatur County! This is week two of the Decatur County Community Foundation’s bi-weekly column. Last week, you heard from our fabulous executive director, Tami Wenning. This week, sorry to say, you’re stuck with me! My name is Alex Sefton. I started working at the Foundation as an intern toward the end of 2018 and stayed here until I finished up my bachelor degree at IU this past December.
On Jan. 1, I became the Foundation’s Public Relations Manager. Apparently, 24 hours a week of me wasn’t enough for my co-workers, so they gave me an extra 16 for good measure. What do I do around here? My main roles include managing our social media platforms, working closely with our nonprofits, communicating key information with our local media sources, aiding in donor relations efforts, and more fun stuff! However, my most important role here at the Foundation is making sure that Her Majesty Sue Feaster, our 80-something-year-old administrative assistant, has a piping hot cup of coffee sitting on her desk when her 1990s-vintage Buick chariot rolls up by our back door. I thought this would end when I got promoted, but I’m still as much of an intern as I ever was (except I’m here more now). Nevertheless, I’m convinced that this is the best job I’ll ever have and wouldn’t trade the memories I make with my crazy co-workers for anything!
Today marks the first day of a four-column series that we have so eloquently named, “What the Heck Does a Community Foundation Do?!”
If you don’t know the answer to this question, no worries. We get that a lot! Many people think community foundations give scholarships. Many think they give money to nonprofits in the community, which allows them to rock some pretty cool local projects. Some think we are just glorified money managers. And they’re all correct!
First and foremost, we meet community needs. Our mission at Decatur County Community Foundation (DCCF) is to “inspire the generosity of our community to create a lasting impact.” Within our innate geographical community, Decatur County, we work primarily with two main “communities:” a community of donors and a community of needs. Our goal is to connect these two in a way that inspires long-lasting sustainability for our geographical community and the causes that exist within it.
What we do can be summed up pretty simply by saying, “We connect people who care with causes that matter.”
But how?! Again, I’m glad you asked because I like answering my own rhetorical questions! Every community foundation across the nation is a little different, but for the most part, everything they do can be tossed into one of three buckets. (1) They provide philanthropic opportunities for donors that allows each donor to maximize the impact of their charitable gifts. (2) They provide grants to nonprofit organizations to help them accomplish their respective missions. (3) They provide scholarships to students who are looking to further their education.
These three things are the hallmarks of the Foundation! You may find yourself asking how all this is possible. It’s because of the amazing support of our community. that’s how! If you’ve ever stopped to think about how a community foundation operates, it’s really pretty cool, and it can all be summed up using the three Gs: giving, growing, and granting. There are a lot of moving parts within the world of philanthropy, but it’s actually a whole lot less complex than it sounds.
Step one is giving. The community supports the Foundation through its generous financial gifts, whether that be in the form of a cash or check donation, a gift of stock, a tangible asset like land, a house, or a car, or in some cases, a contribution from a retirement fund for our friends 72-years-young and older. Once we receive a financial gift, we invest it. Well, we don’t, but our investors do. We work with four industry leaders who oh-so-responsibly manage every penny that is donated to the Foundation. As a result of their financial genius, the gifts are able to grow and grow and grow. One note here is that we never spend the money you actually give, only the interest earned on the gift. Say you give $100 and our investors are so smart that your $100 eventually becomes $120. We will only grant out the $20 gained, but we never touch the principle gift of $100.
Are you bored yet?
Hang in there, the fun part is coming! We’ve covered giving and growing. Now we get to grants! Our grantmaking process is our pride and joy! This is when the money starts working for Decatur County and our people because we are able to provide grants to local nonprofit organizations and scholarships to our graduating high school students.
Giving, growing, granting. It’s that simple!
Check back in a couple weeks; we’ll take a deep dive into some of our recent grants and scholarships that have been awarded in the past year as we continue in our series, “What the Heck Does a Community Foundation Do?”
We’re always looking for bright new ideas to make Decatur County even greater! Stop by anytime and chat with me at 101 E. Main Street, Suite 1, or give me a call at 812-662-6364!