As my term as your NCCF board chair winds down, it is natural for my thoughts to turn to where we have been. I resist that tendency, however, and usually prefer to consider where we are going.
When I became chair in 2009, there was much unease, even fear. Not long before, Lehman Brothers had collapsed, and our own Wachovia Bank stumbled. The crisis was upon us; fear and trembling were palpable everywhere, and meetings of the NCCF Executive and Finance Committees provided no exception. But, we stayed the course and now, with the DOW having doubled, the steadiness and foresight of NCCF’s Committees and the Board are vindicated. We are stronger financially.
More than that, we are stronger in our resolve.
The Board and its Committees, with staff, rather than retreating, advanced with budgeting, planning, working on strategies, aiming for the future. Those efforts, that focus, will not end with the FUTURES Committee work about to be promulgated, but will continue for the future. Those efforts, that focus, will ensure the continued growth and success of our philanthropy with a rural and local focus.
Our affiliates are today stronger than ever. The kernel of genius our founder could see has now come to full flower. Local philanthropy is now a significant force for good in North Carolina, through a combination of efforts. A very large part of that effort is the work of the affiliates – local work for local good.
The Foundation has changed as North Carolina has changed. And change it must to remain relevant to donors, to serve communities as changing demographics and economies alter the landscape. In many ways, the view from the Foundation is like watching the forest turn to fields, hills turn to plains -- outside the window of a train that travels faster with each passing year.
While the Foundation has matured and has become much more technologically sophisticated, has adapted to respond to new donor concerns and directions, its focus has stayed the same – local philanthropy for local good, focusing on rural North Carolina.
Our Board is stronger than in the past; certainly it is more collegial, more engaged, more attuned to what makes the Foundation a success, what will drive it to achieve its greatest potential. Staff, under the leadership of a strong and visionary CEO, has achieved a new level of responsiveness and activity.
We are a Foundation on the move. Lewis R. Holding saw 25 years ago the great need for community philanthropy, the great good that this Foundation could do. From that seed the sapling has now grown to a tree. That tree will become a mighty oak, an even greater force for charity – for scholarships, donor advised funds, field of interest funds in a thousand different locales with a thousand different beneficial interests. That oak will grow and flourish under new and younger leadership, with ever greater passion for excellence.
The hope, the dream, the future, are here. The genius that gave birth to this Foundation has matured with innovation, effort, dedication, enthusiasm. That maturing genius will surely see the Foundation grow exponentially as the good it can do grows with it. The good our Foundation can do will never outrun the need, but we shall give it a good race. That is our heritage.