Community Foundation makes big changes to increase its impact throughout NCW
The Community Foundation of North Central Washington is poised to make some bold changes next year in order to make a bigger impact on the health and well-being of our communities.
CFNCW will be shifting grantmaking closer to the communities it serves, launching a program to develop civic leaders throughout the region, and setting aside funds for “impact investing” that will be used to address critical community needs.
The new direction was developed by the CFNCW board over the past few years in response to the pandemic’s impact on nonprofits and communities as well as other social changes. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was elected to CFNCW’s board in July.)
It is instructive to consider the profound impact that CFNCW has already made in this region. Since 1986, the foundation has received $106 million in local contributions and has awarded an astounding $67 million in grants to nonprofits and scholarships to students.
Those funds come from “people who care about this place and want to make sure that for generations to come, we have resources available to make this a great place to be,” said CFNCW Executive Director Beth Stipe at a meeting with key donors recently.
The success of the organization can be seen in the growth of the amount of money that the foundation invests on behalf of donors and nonprofits, which has ballooned from $12 million in 2003 to $138 million today — a more than tenfold increase.
So, what are the biggest changes coming to CFNCW?
For years, CFNCW has used its unrestricted dollars to make so-called regional impact grants to key nonprofits each year. In the last few years, they’ve also used those dollars to host crowd-funding campaigns to benefit nonprofits throughout Chelan, Douglas and
Okanogan counties entitled Give NCW and Give Methow. Last year, those campaigns raised $1.4 million in community contributions to add to the $412,000 invested by the CFNCW.
The regional impact grant program will end this year (although the Give NCW and Give Methow campaigns will continue) and in its place, there will be 10 Legacy Funds — serving Wenatchee Valley, Methow Valley, Upper Valley, Cashmere, Waterville, Mansfield, Chelan Valley, and Northern, Central and Southern Okanogan County.
Each of these local funds will be guided by community-based volunteers who will determine how grant funds will best serve the local area. Stipe said CFNCW will be working to allocate funds from the foundation to ensure that resources get applied in an equitable manner in our region.
CFNCW is launching a civic leadership institute in 2024 to help develop the next generation of leaders in the region and open up access to skills and training to folks who otherwise might not have an opportunity. They’re adopting the model of the Family Leadership Training Institute, a robust program that has been successful in other states in fostering civic engagement.
They’ll start with a Wenatchee Valley cohort in 2024 and in subsequent years offer this training throughout of Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties.
Not everything is changing, of course. CFNCW, in collaboration with the Icicle Fund, will continue to support nonprofits through the Nonprofit Practices Institute. The scholarship program will continue to be administered from the office in Wenatchee; and donors and nonprofit organizations who have charitable funds at the foundation will continue to receive the same level of service they have grown accustomed to.
The new direction is a logical extension of the work that the foundation has been doing to address critical community needs and support nonprofits in the region. A great example of this is the Okanogan Long Term Recovery effort, which started out as the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group, following the devastating fires of 2014 and 2015.
Our North Central Washington communities and nonprofits are infinitely better off because of the work of the CFNCW. To learn more, access cfncw.org.