The week of Nov. 12-18 is Community Foundation Week and Nov. 15 is National Philanthropy Day. These events celebrate the value of charitable giving, and how community foundations serve their communities. So, what is a community foundation, and how does it fit into the charitable giving picture for Juneau and for you?
A community foundation pools donations, invests those funds, and makes grants to other nonprofits to support a wide variety of causes. Community foundations can address both immediate needs and invest for the long term. They can accommodate different giving abilities, goals, and strategies. They can support very specific causes, or a general area of interest. They offer donors flexibility, convenience, anonymity (if desired), efficiency, security, accountability and more. Community foundations are in it for the long game, designed for perpetuity through growth and sound investment.
The Juneau Community Foundation strives to maximize the impact of our donors. Our small staff works hard with local stakeholders to actively convene and collaborate on important issues and opportunities in our hometown. Our board gives generously of their time, talent, and money. The Foundation has a solid, secure, low-cost investment strategy that has consistently beat our own investment targets and the peer benchmarks of much larger investment funds. Due to the generosity of our donors, we now manage over $50,000,000 in assets. These donors have made it possible for the Foundation to distribute over $11,000,000 in grants and scholarships.
The Juneau Community Foundation has a long list of funds that support many different causes, projects, and organizations. Some examples include the newly opened Housing First facility, rebuilding Project Playground, The Empty Chair project, Seward Statue, Juneau Whale project, Pipeline Skate Park, Eaglecrest Mountain Bike Trail, and Dimond Park Field House. We manage organizational endowments for Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE), KTOO, Juneau Arts &Humanities Council, Friends of Zach Gordon Youth Center, Trail Mix, Juneau Jazz &Classics and more. Donor-directed funds, endowments, and scholarship funds give donors more control over how their donations are used to support our nonprofit partners and the people they serve. Memorial funds honor loved ones by supporting their favorite causes. And, Field of Interest Funds are being developed to address targeted needs in the areas of arts &culture, education, youth, parks, trails &recreation and health &social services. You can find out more about ways to give, and causes you can support, at www.juneaucf.org.
One thing the Juneau Community Foundation does not want to be is a competitor with our local nonprofit partners. We seek to increase local philanthropy, not displace your giving to your favorite charities. Dwindling federal and state dollars will mean that communities will need to rely more on local giving. Maximizing the collective impact of various funding sources will also take on more importance. The Foundation is actively working with multiple nonprofits, and other foundations, to collaborate and coordinate efforts to meet the highest needs and invest where the impact is greatest.
On Sept. 21, we held our annual Philanthropy Awards Dinner. We honored Hugh and Shari Grant as Philanthropists of the Year, and AEL&P/Avista and Alaska Marine Lines as Philanthropic Businesses of the Year. Attendees were encouraged to donate to the Foundation’s Hospice Endowment Fund, which was established last year by a very generous donor. Donations from the event added over $110,000 to this fund, more than doubling its size. Due to community generosity, we expect to be able to distribute a grant of around $10,000 per year on an ongoing basis to support local hospice operations. More donations to this fund will enable us to distribute even more in future years.
Charity comes in many forms. Small donations add up, especially when pooled from many donors. Large donations and bequeaths can be game changers by building funds and endowments that can sustain ongoing annual grants for local nonprofits for generations to come. We encourage everyone to be philanthropic, to promote the welfare of others, especially by donating your money and time to causes you care about. Join us in reinvesting in our community and our neighbors. Talk to us about your charitable interests. We want to work with you to see how, together, we can improve the quality of life in Juneau.
• Rick Shattuck is vice president of the Juneau Community Foundation.