By way of introduction, my name is David Ryan, the new CFO here at the North Carolina Community Foundation. I’ve been with the Foundation just shy of six months and it’s my first experience working in the “not-for-profit” world. I spent the first part of my career working for large global pharmaceutical companies as well as a company I co-founded in 2000 and sold in 2013. I still have a tremendous amount to learn about the work we do here at the Foundation but I thought I might share some of my initial observations.
Firstly, the Foundation is a very complex business and has many of the same challenges and opportunities faced by for-profit businesses. However, a big difference is the Foundation gives away a lot of money each year (more on that to come).
We have a very active, engaged and generous Board of Directors. They are all pillars of the communities in which they reside and have a knack for keeping the entire staff on their toes. Their backgrounds are diverse but they all have one thing in common: their passion for the sustainability of the Foundation.
Another observation is that individuals in this type of work are very open to sharing information about their organization and/or their strategies for addressing the challenges and opportunities confronting their foundations. I’ve met with several of my peers from other foundations, and they’ve all been very welcoming and willing to share any and all information. I’ve not yet asked a question and gotten “that information is proprietary so it can’t be shared.” Very different from my past experiences.
Following along with the “willing to share” concept, collaboration seems to be a core value of not only this and other foundations but also of the people that work within these organizations. The Foundation partners with many types of organizations including, other foundations, large corporations and many, many other not-for-profit entities. It’s amazing how much is being accomplished through collaboration.
So now let’s address this business of giving (granting) money away. In the short time I’ve been with the Foundation I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing the process and hearing from the individuals and groups that have received funding. My last observation for this post is that the granting process and the results of this process are what attract the many talented and motivated individuals here at the Foundation. In turn these very individuals are achieving extraordinary results throughout North Carolina. How lucky we all are to be working in such a place.