The word – foundation – conjures up images of an institution that has a lot of money and gives it away regularly. Although the Community Foundation has given more than $115 million in grants, our grant-making process differs from private foundations. Because the Community Foundation’s grant process is markedly different from private foundations we have learned that it is important to communicate with charities in our region, so they understand how we can help them.
The primary difference between community foundations and private foundations is the nature of the assets and the grant advisory structure.
Private foundations typically have a focus area for grants, such as education or environmental conservation. Private foundations normally have a set grant cycle in which nonprofits can submit grant applications or respond to requests for proposals. After applications are collected, the private foundation’s board or selection committee deliberates and selects funding recipients.
The Community Foundation of Western Nevada administers 240 charitable funds, most of which are designated or donor-advised. Donors establish a type of fund that will accomplish their personal charitable goals and recommend the grants from that fund. Our Fundholders have diverse interests that are reflected in the wide array of Community Foundation grants to causes including (but not limited to) arts and culture, animal welfare, seniors, veterans, education, the environment, and scholarships.
With few exceptions, the Community Foundation’s staff and board do not determine which causes to support or which nonprofits receive grants. The Community Foundation staff, by researching Fundholders’ diverse charitable interests have incredible knowledge about community organizations. This presents both a challenge to our area nonprofits and an opportunity. The challenge is that a nonprofit cannot apply for funds the same way they might to a private foundation, but the opportunity exists for nonprofits to connect with potential donors who may not know about their work.
Nonprofits are welcome to share information about their programs and funding needs with our Stewardship staff. Staff on occasion shares nonprofit funding priorities with Fundholders interested in that specific area of work. The privacy of fundholders is at the forefront of our donor service. Unless a Community Foundation Fundholder explicitly requests to be introduced to a nonprofit, the Stewardship staff will not share any personal fundholder information. The Community Foundation maintains confidentiality. If a Fundholder is considering a grant to a nonprofit and wants to meet the nonprofit’s staff or go on a site visit, our Stewardship staff will make these arrangements on behalf of the Fundholder.
The Community Foundation is in the process of building a Community Endowment with grants approved by our Board, with the guidance of an advisory committee that includes at-large community members. Over time this will become a substantial grant source, but it is small during these early years. I eagerly look to the future when the Community Endowment, combined with our growing body of work in community initiatives and engagement, will present many opportunities for both nonprofits and donors for collaboration and impact.
Best wishes to you for a Happy Nevada Day!
Chris Askin, President, and CEO
Connecting people who care with causes that matter.