These are difficult times for many in our community. Unemployment remains high; paychecks don’t go very far; and every day it seems another public service is being curtailed in the interest of budget cuts. That’s why the kinds of innovative investments being made by philanthropy – particularly community foundations – have never been more important in Richmond, Columbia, McDuffie, Burke, Aiken and Edgefield counties.
This week, through Nov. 18, the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area joins more than 700 community foundations across America to recognize Community Foundation Week. These community foundations play a vital role nationwide in supporting essential services such as health-care clinics, food banks, domestic violence shelters, libraries and literacy centers.
In 2010, these foundations granted an estimated $4 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in the arts, education, health, human services, family services and the environment. Though they could never replace the role of government-funded services, community foundations can and do help nonprofit organizations and others by using their private resources for public good.
AN ADVANTAGE OF community foundations’ philanthropy is their ability to drive innovation as an incubator for great ideas. While government has the resources to accomplish big things, it is not known for being nimble or innovative. This is where community foundations can really make a difference, developing timely solutions to pressing problems in our society.
Community foundations know that the investments they have made in the past and continue to make today will help people for many years. By marshaling the financial resources of individuals, families, businesses and foundations, we can address problems such as unemployment, stagnant economic growth, hunger and poverty. By strategically working with others, community foundations can equip society to more effectively deal with such future challenges that we face in the CSRA.
I am pleased to report that the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area, your community foundation, has accomplished the following:
Since April 1996 through this past Oct. 15, the foundation made 4,904 donor-advised and unrestricted-fund grants – investments – to deserving not-for- profit organizations totaling $37,706,531. Thanks to the Masters Tournament, an additional $450,000 will be awarded in December to deserving not-for-profit organizations in the six counties neighboring Augusta.
Because of the vision and determination of the foundation’s Board of Directors, the foundation has truly become a regional asset.
(The writer is president and chief executive officer of he Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area.)