Voices of Philanthropy with Linda Outlaw from the Balsam Mountain Preserve Fund

Linda Outlaw is a Jackson County leader and Balsam Mountain Preserve resident. She has helped build a special partnership between this unique fund and the local affiliate foundation board, of which she is a member, to build collaboration for more effective and impactful grantmaking. We asked Linda to share some of what she’s learned and here’s what she told us.

Tell us about your involvement with the Balsam Mountain Preserve Fund.

Balsam Mountain Preserve is a conservation easement and private community in Jackson County between Sylva and Waynesville. Many of our residents are part-time and are planning to retire here.

We started the fund because there were so many people who wanted to give back to the community but didn’t really know enough about the area to do that without a little assistance, because this isn’t where they’ve lived all their lives.

Can you describe how the Fund and Jackson County affiliate partner together?

Residents of the Balsam Mountain Preserve approached the Jackson County Community Foundation about creating a fund as a method to help give back to the community. Our residents donate and we partner to figure out where the best place to put that money is in the community.

We quickly learned that by partnering with the Jackson County Community Foundation, we gained valuable insight into the best organizations to support in our local community. A lot of us didn’t know the community well, and the partnership helped us get involved and learn more.

We work with the affiliate every year when the grant applications come in, so that we can get insight into what the needs are of the grantees and what they’re looking for with funding. We get the best use out of our dollars when we combine them to make sure we can fully support the grantees.

Why did the Fund and affiliate decide to build and foster this partnership?

Partnering with the JCCF has been great for grantees because we are more often able to fully grant the requests. It also helps the Balsam Mountain Preserve folks to feel comfortable because they have faith in the JCCF board.

What are the goals of the Fund?

Our Fund generally focuses on organizations that address basic health, food and shelter needs as well as life skills that help families and youth grow and thrive. JCCF provides data each year on community issues which helps us target our giving to the current priorities for families and youth.

This past year, because of the issues with COVID, we have been focused on food insecurity, housing and rental and utility assistance. We have been doing grants throughout the year, outside of the grants cycle, just related to these COVID issues.

What do you see as the benefits for fundholders of working with affiliates?

To me, the biggest benefit is the knowledge we can gain from JCCF on the current community needs and the organizations that help address those needs. Their annual community assessment data gives us insight into the current community needs. The grants cycle gives us great insight into the organizations that support this community in all sorts of ways.

We have been able to bring some of those organizations to  Balsam Mountain Preserve to talk about their work in the community which has fostered partnerships and active volunteer opportunities between our members and these organizations.