Supporting charities in times of crisis

Denise Sorom, Director of Philanthropy

Have you ever noticed how nonprofit organizations talk about the importance of unrestricted donations? How they dream of donations that support their general operating needs and not specific programs? Those unrestricted dollars provide nonprofits with stability, but in uncertain times, they also allow nonprofits to be highly adaptable and respond to the needs of their communities. 2020 has been a case in point at the Community Foundation.

Fiscal year 2020 started when the world still seemed to be chugging along as usual. CFNCW was here to execute its traditional set of grants and scholarships supporting a wide range of causes and students throughout North Central Washington – it was business as usual.

When the world turned upside down on us in mid-March, we stopped in our tracks and asked ourselves how best we could address the many crises that were crashing down on our community. We paused all the programs that are funded from our unrestricted dollars and created a series of initiatives to put our broken community back together.

Helping Hands Grants were redefined to provide emergency assistance to nonprofits who were seeing huge spikes in demand due to the economic collapse that COVID spawned. Since March, over $147,000 of Helping Hands Grants have gone to local nonprofits and this is just the beginning.

The Back to Basics campaign was conceived to help school districts support their most vulnerable students who were suffering due to school closures. Over $106,000 was granted to schools so they can help students with food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, personal hygiene products and other basic needs.

The Nonprofit Reemergence Grant program was developed to aid our charitable sector as they adjust to the new realities of social distancing and the collapse of live, in-person programming.

When the fires hit in September, we launched the NCW Fire Relief Fund to responsibly collect the charitable dollars that come rushing in during natural disasters and more importantly, ensure that those dollars directly help fire survivors rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

Through regular and frequent calls with leaders at a wide range of charitable organizations, we developed a keen understanding of what the nonprofit community was facing and how we could best help them weather the storm.

We forged partnerships with city and county leaders to make sure that charitable dollars did not overlap with governmental aid; and we developed unique collaborations to make sure that public and private dollars were making their way to the people who needed them most.

There is no way we could have done all this without the donors who have supported the Community Foundation over the years. The flexibility of unrestricted donations empowered our team to use its expertise to make our philanthropy not just responsive but anticipatory.

For those of you who enjoy supporting charitable causes, we urge you to consider unrestricted gifts to your favorite nonprofits. When you make your gift, simply note that the donation is unrestricted or to be used where it is needed most. If you are interested in supporting the Community Foundation in this way, you can become a Partner In Giving (or a “PIG” as we affectionately call them) with a donation of $50 or more or you can consider leaving a legacy gift in your will as all endowed funds help CFNCW do its grant-making work every year.

In the end, the real heroes of this story are YOU – the donors who chose to support charitable causes – who are stepping up to support this community when it needs you.


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