Building Strong Communities
In 1986, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington was established by the sale of a Blue Shield insurance program which netted $2.1M in assets. This was the decision of a handful of local physicians who wanted to build something lasting for our region. Almost 40 years later, that community foundation – your community foundation – has accepted over $106 million in gifts from local donors and has distributed over $67 million in grants and scholarships to students and non-profit organizations throughout North Central Washington.
During the past four decades, CFNCW has been a donor-centric steward of charitable gifts and a responsive grant maker, driven by the generosity of local contributors and the needs of the nonprofit community. That strategy, combined with wise investing, has been highly successful: CFNCW currently has over $138 million in assets under management.
The COVID era coincided with the updating of CFNCW’s strategic plan in 2020-2021. The divisiveness of that era ushered in a new urgency for CFNCW to evolve its practices to best serve its mission “to grow, protect, and connect charitable gifts in support of strong communities.”
The question became: “What makes a strong community?” After several months of discussion and two years of research, CFNCW identified three components that are essential to building strong communities: Investments, Leaders, and Enrichment. The following plan took shape:
- Legacy Funds will be created to serve 10 geographically diverse communities: Wenatchee Valley, Upper Valley, Cashmere, Chelan Valley, Waterville, Mansfield, Methow Valley, North Okanogan, Mid Okanogan, and South Okanogan. Regional Advisory Boards populated by local volunteers will review grant applications and decide on grant awards for nonprofit organizations in their communities each year.
- The Give NCW and Give Methow crowd-funding campaigns will continue. Their ability to engage donors at all levels as well as include local businesses has boosted income for nonprofits and heightened philanthropy throughout the region.
- Impact Investments are opportunities for the foundation to take a small portion of its assets and invest them in local projects where those dollars can make a significant difference. While returns on those investments might not be as high as those invested on Wall Street, they have the potential to make an important impact on a local level.
Civic Leadership Institute
- Strong leaders, skilled in civic management and civil discourse, are key to strong communities. CFNCW is taking a proactive role in training our next generation of leaders by launching the Civic Leadership Institute next year. Based on a tried-and-true curriculum that has proven effective in rural communities, this 20-week program will serve a cohort of 20-30 emerging leaders at a time. It will be bilingual and free of charge – making it accessible to a wide range of the community. The program will launch in the Wenatchee Valley and move through the three-county service area, one community at a time.
Nonprofit Practices Institute
- Our signature capacity-building program for the nonprofit sector will build upon its 10-year history and continue to offer training in governance, fundraising, marketing, and many other aspects of nonprofit management.
Regional Advisory Boards
- Ten Regional Advisory Boards will be formed in 2024 to oversee grantmaking in their communities. Based on the success of the Methow Valley Fund, these advisory boards will empower local citizens with grant-making dollars specifically for their communities. CFNCW will train advisory board members in grant-making skills and each board will have a representative from CFNCW’s Trustees to ensure consistency and best practices. This approach ensures that CFNCW is investing its grant making dollars in the highest and most urgent needs in each of the communities it serves while building dozens of new philanthropic leaders throughout its three-county region.
Okanogan County Presence
- To bolster its presence in Okanogan County and better serve the nonprofit community and donors therein, CFNCW will open an office in the Omak area in 2024. That office will offer a meeting space for nonprofits and serve as a home-base for donors and nonprofit leaders to connect with colleagues and resources.
- CFNCW’s ambitious goal to build strong communities cannot be done in isolation. Over the past several years, CFNCW has been bolstering its partnerships with local agencies such as Thriving Together, the Icicle Fund and Our Valley Our Future to secure additional funding and participation in support of our new direction.
- Practicing what we preach, CFNCW is investing in its own capacity to carry out our new strategic plan. CFNCW’s board now has a Governance Committee reviewing and updating its policies and procedures to ready itself for the future, additional staff will be hired to staff the Omak office and work with the newly formed Regional Advisory Boards, and an Impact Investing Committee is in place to review and recommend projects where local investments will make a lasting difference.