If you’re a business executive, the next knock on your door or ring of your phone may be another nonprofit seeking support.
What to do? Even the most community-minded company finds it challenging to decide whom to support and whom to politely decline.
One way companies can respond is to seek out their local community foundation. While many nonprofits have a relatively narrow mission – helping stray animals find a home; providing employment services – a foundation’s mission is typically broad: to improve the quality of life in a geographic area.
One way the Eden Prairie Community Foundation fulfills this mission is by building philanthropic funds via support from local folks, then granting from those funds to fill unmet community needs.
A good example is the Eden Prairie Youth Initiative, which the Foundation started three years ago to provide more funding support to several existing programs. One of those programs provides after-school activity scholarships to young people – scholarships for swimming lessons, driver’s education, summer camps, sports, and other activities that more affluent families take for granted.
The Foundation has raised nearly $55,000 from local individuals, families, and businesses for the Youth Initiative, helping hundreds of kids per year. There’s your proof: By financially supporting the Foundation, you are assured that your contributions are solving community problems. In other words, your support is going where it’s needed most.
This happens because of the Foundation’s knowledge and expertise, and because it works hard to identify where dollars will make a big impact. How? Three ways:
- By building a volunteer board of directors that knows the community well. In addition to have many active at-large members, the Foundation’s board has representation from the city, school district, business community, and clergy.
- By getting to know local nonprofits, their missions, and challenges. Each month, the Foundation convenes its Nonprofit Coffee Klatch to learn from Eden Prairie’s nonprofit leaders, and to find opportunities for collaboration.
- And, by using a volunteer Grant Committee to invite and closely review detailed applications for Foundation grants, and to examine each request’s impact on Eden Prairie.
As a business, you could probably spend many, many hours studying community needs on your own, learning what each nonprofit does, and identifying how to make a big impact.
But, by working with a community foundation – and locally the Eden Prairie Community Foundation – you don’t have to do those things. Because the foundation already has.