Local Charitable Funds Make Good Things Happen

Denise Sorom

The Town of Waterville has received financial support from the Waterville Fund nearly every year since the fund was established in 1999. Over $17,000 has been invested in the City Pool alone, providing safe, fun recreation for kids and families. Courtesy Community Foundation of NCW

More energy efficient lighting for city hall.  New planters to beautify main street. An after-school program at your local library branch. Updated medical equipment for the ambulance that services your community.  
These types of projects embody the concept of “Think Globally, Act Locally.” They move the needle on large issues while making tangible benefits for people at home.  They are perfect examples of the types of small projects that a charitable fund focused on your town can make possible.  
At the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, we have two of such regional funds: the Waterville Community Fund and the Methow Valley Fund.  Every year local folks from Waterville and the Methow review a set of grant applications for projects that make an immediate difference for the residents of those communities.  Every year, good things happen due to the generosity of a few charitable souls.
Take the Waterville fund for example:  In 1989, five community members in Waterville each donated $5,000 to start the fund for an initial balance of $25,000. Over the years, the fund has received several small donations as well as bequest gifts totaling roughly $60,000, making total donations to the fund approximately $85,000.  However, because this fund is endowed, the principal stays intact, and a spendable amount can be awarded as grants each year.  This ensures the fund’s longevity and its growth over time.  Because of the miracle of compounding interest, the Waterville fund has now awarded over $130,000 in grants to local organizations and maintains over $200,000 as its endowed balance.  This is a fantastic example of how everyday community members can make a lasting difference in their hometowns.
In the Methow Valley, the idea of a local fund came from CFNCW’s board of directors.  They recognized that due to the density of nonprofits in the Methow, our general grant program would not cover the needs in that community. To address this, they carved out the Methow from our general grant program and seeded a specific community fund for the Methow that would be matched each year by an anonymous donor with interest in that area. Like Waterville, grants are reviewed by a committee of local citizens who understand the needs of their community.  Over the years, residents of the Methow have noticed the impact of this local fund and recently the Methow Valley Fund received a bequest that will double its grant-making budget in perpetuity.
While it can feel paralyzing to grapple with large and complicated issues such as climate change, income inequality and global health, it is possible can make changes at the local level through regional funds such as those in Waterville and the Methow Valley.  If starting a fund like this is something that interests you for your local town, please reach out to us.  If you have the vision, we have the infrastructure and capacity to make good things happen in your town year after year.   
For more information, call 509-663-7716 or visit www.cfncw.org.


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