Broadening the philanthropy table

by Leslie Ann Jackson

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the opportunities that NCCF offers for community engagement. (In fact, I wrote a whole blog about it last month.)

One of those opportunities happens to be particularly present for me right now – participation in our decision-making processes.

For example, this time of year, stacks of scholarship paperwork arrive on my desk every week for me to review and initial.

Well, that’s an understatement – they don’t just “arrive” there.

Once I am seeing these stacks, many, many people have touched them. Hundreds of people all over the state serve as committee members for our scholarship funds and select students who will be recipients of scholarships to help further their education.

I can see each of these committee member’s signatures on the cover pages.

Also, we are amid the second open grant cycle of the Louise Oriole Burevitch Endowment.

That means that next month we will present applications to a carefully selected group of community leaders who we know and trust. Some of them are experts in education, health and human services, and others have a wealth of experience with rural North Carolina.

Their participation in the tough decision-making of this highly competitive program ensures that we are stewarding this endowment well and maximizing the opportunity.

And soon, you’ll be hearing more about our partnership with the NC Inclusive Disaster Recovery Network.

We’re engaging this vital North Carolina resource in making decisions about the distribution of a portion of disaster relief funding specifically supporting the organizations and communities the NCIDR is designed to serve.

Grants will support the work of minority-led organizations and/or nonprofits that are specifically serving underserved and underrepresented communities recovering from the disaster.

These are just a few of the examples that are happening right now.

Who else can we bring to the table?

Here’s what we know:

  • We consistently hear that grantmaking is a favorite activity of our affiliate foundation board members, generating excitement and energy among them.
  • When we engage others in our decision-making, they like it, too. They consider it an honor to be asked to join in, and they give it their all.
  • They tell us that the process allows them to learn more about community foundations, which – let’s be honest – can be a little complicated, and then, they can share our message about the power of community foundations.
  • More specifically, they come to understand the way that NCCF executes philanthropy across the state through our vast affiliate network.
  • And of course, we learn from them, too – particularly when we involve people who bring unique experiences, diverse perspectives, specific knowledge-sets that we may not have.

In philanthropy, you may hear it called “participatory grantmaking.”

No matter what we call it - We're fulfilling our role as a community foundation in connecting our communities and neighbors to philanthropy and bringing even more North Carolinians to the ever-broadening philanthropy table.

We’re going to need more chairs.