You can’t help if you don’t know us.

by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside

Recently, I attended a presentation on poverty and the cycle of eviction. One of the speakers, a nonprofit board member who experienced poverty, shared something that really resonated with me. “You can’t help if you don’t know us.” Yes, I thought, I understand that.

This simple sentence speaks to the way we approach our work at NCCF.

We truly believe that we can’t help people if we do not know them.

Of course, we believe in the power of local. We believe in the people who are living in the communities we want to support. We believe that local people know what it is best for their community. We believe in the people that are living and working through the community challenges and opportunities on the ground.

This belief is the backbone of our local community grantmaking funds. These funds are directed by local leaders making recommendations based on their knowledge of the community. This is why we work to ensure our local boards are intentional and inclusive and the why behind our recommendation that grants be made to support the general operations of nonprofits. We believe that these local leaders are the people with the knowledge and expertise and are the best people to allocate the resources.

We believe in developing relationships with our fundholders to ensure we know them, their interests and values, what they see as important and that they know us. We believe that relationships are the core of our work.

We believe in local decision making when it comes to our Disaster Relief Fund. We believe in the fundamental value of working with people directly impacted by the disaster when making decisions about how to support long term recovery efforts.

We believe nonprofits should ensure the people they are serving have a voice in the work. We believe services should not be provided without input and involvement from the community.

We believe our local affiliate foundations are our partners in this work. We believe it so strongly that many of our statewide board members began their engagement with NCCF on a local level. The theory behind our statewide affiliate network is baked into our DNA.

We believe in philanthropy. We believe in generosity. We believe that bringing people who care deeply about a community in a room together can change the world. We believe in getting up every day and trying to be that change.

Most of all, we believe in North Carolina, our people, our communities, our rural areas and that are best days are ahead of us.

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