Foundation Forum by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, NCCF CEO

A look back, a look ahead

Because our fiscal year ends in March, January provides us with a unique opportunity to fine tune and strategize. While everyone else is announcing their plans for the year, we use this time to wind up and get ready for a new fiscal year that begins April 1. 

I hope you will allow me to share with you a couple of NCCF 2011 highlights and outline some of what’s ahead for us in 2012.

Some accomplishments that we are particularly proud of this past year:

Our work in supporting disaster relief efforts in local communities: Two natural disasters in our state in 2011 provided the challenge of raising much needed funds and allocating resources to those communities most in need. We are grateful for the incredible generosity of our donors from all parts of the country who reached out to support our work in affected communities. Our local community foundation partners responded quickly and effectively. Our work now is to strengthen our response for the inevitable next time as well as to build a financial base for this fund.

The continued financial strength of our organization: These continue to be challenging economic times. Yet we have been able to maintain growth in our grants and scholarships and see increases in our own endowment, which supports our work in communities throughout the state. We received another clean audit this year and continued to maintain the highest rating from Charity Navigator. (See related story in News briefs.)

We are working hard to increase our online capability: We’ve taken solid action in this area this year as we moved our community grants program completely on-line, increasing our staff efficiency and accuracy and saving valuable time and resources for our volunteer grants committees and nonprofit partners.

This move allows us all to focus more on mission-critical work and spend less time on moving paper.

What is ahead:

Strengthening our efforts to bring together our vast and expert network of local community foundations: We will utilize both technology and good old fashioned in- person meetings to connect creative ideas across the state. Our advisory board members have much to share and to gain from others in our network. We are so proud of our affiliates’ creativity and vision. This group of local leaders is moving the needle on important community issues, and we will continue to share their progress and help tell their stories.

NCCF also will continue to focus on donor engagement and involvement through information sharing, community events and increased use of technology.

Planning our future: We turn 25 in 2013 and will be using this next year to plan for the new environment in which we all operate. Our communities are changing, and the economic climate is much different. This provides the opportunity to review our business model, examine the world in which we operate and analyze the enormous changes we face. We must ensure we remain positioned to optimally serve our state and help to meet its needs. (See related story on the board-driven FUTURES committee that will help map our future.)

We expect to see 2012 provide another strong year for grantmaking and scholarships.

We continue to see opportunities for philanthropy to make a difference in communities across our state. NCCF’s leadership through our statewide board of directors, advisory board members in each affiliate community and a talented and passionate staff will ensure our success.

Happy 2012!

Jennifer

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