Community Foundations: Community, Connection, and Collaboration

October 16, 2019
(Front) Jennifer Puff, Nancy Conard  (Back) Leslie Lauren, Nancy Bacon, Kathleen Sayce, Sheila Everett
(Front) Jennifer Puff, Nancy Conard (Back) Leslie Lauren, Nancy Bacon, Kathleen Sayce, Sheila Everett

Give where you live.

That’s the philanthropy that community foundations inspire. Community foundations bring together the financial resources of local individuals and businesses in support of worthy causes. They invest in deep local knowledge to solve problems and act on opportunities. They make space for nonprofits to learn from each other and visitors from outside the community. Through their work, they weave together all of the elements of a healthy community.

Washington Nonprofits’ Nancy Bacon recently spent an afternoon with three community foundations: Pacific Community Foundation, Olympic View Community Foundation (Clallam County), and Whidbey Community Foundation. All three are young organizations in coastal regions with a steady stream of retirees and second home buyers. They have all made nonprofit capacity building core to their mission.

These Foundations remind us of three important lessons.

Place matters. Local history, politics, and culture determines whether an idea will fly or not. Solutions that work in one place won’t necessarily work in another. Leaders from these different organizations take an idea and see how they can be recast in their specific circumstances. The power of connection! “I learn so much about Washington communities by talking with our community foundation partners,” said Nancy Bacon.

Foundations and nonprofits work on the same team. The relationship between nonprofits and philanthropy has been fraught with challenge as we navigate differing definitions of what matters. We have seen that tension lift when we talk about community foundations and the nonprofits they support. At the center of that relationship is one community and the collective effort to make it a great place to live, work, and play. “Barriers more readily fall away when nonprofit and foundation leaders come together with a singular, place-based focus,” observed Nancy.

Stronger together. These organizations, like most of us, are resource bound. Pacific Community Foundation is an all-volunteer organization. Whidbey Community Foundation and Olympic View Community Foundation are minimally staffed. They live the proverb, “do what you do well, and partner on the rest.” All three work with Washington Nonprofits for nonprofit learning. They partner with local businesses, higher education, financial advisors, economic development groups, funders, and many more to deliver programs and fill gaps. “Being young organizations, they can be open to new ways of doing things and experiment in some innovative ways!”

These three foundations and Washington Nonprofits deliver nonprofit learning events with the support of the Medina Foundation:

We appreciate the membership and program support of these Washington community foundations:
  • Blue Mountain Community Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Snohomish County
  • Grays Harbor Community Foundation
  • Innovia Foundation
  • Kitsap Community Foundation
  • Olympic View Community Foundation
  • Seattle Foundation
  • Skagit Community Foundation
  • Stanwood-Camano Area Foundation
  • The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
  • Three Rivers Community Foundation
  • Whatcom Community Foundation
  • Whidbey Community Foundation
  • Yakima Valley Community Foundation

In our monthly Member Spotlight, Washington Nonprofits features members who are doing something worth sharing. It can be a best practice, implementation of a new idea, or something that may help others to tackle a challenge. Do you have a story that you would like to share? Contact us! We would love to hear from you.

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