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Biggest Little Community Foundation

Perhaps we are not so little, in fact, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada is in the top 150 out of 750 community foundations in the country, thanks to a generous community, and to excellent leadership. We wouldn’t be here at all without the work and support of many people. It was local leaders who brought the Community Foundation to fruition. Without Bob Armstrong and Mark Knobel, and their connections to charitable foundations and generous visionaries, we would not have launched.  Soon after we were established, three community foundations helped us get going, including the Community Foundation of Santa Clara Valley, the Peninsula Community Foundation, and the East Bay Community Foundation.  They provided us with training, templates, and advice that was essential in the early years.  The Silicon Valley Community Foundation staff helped us develop our policies and practices to be able to provide international grantmaking opportunities to our fundholders. The Council on Foundations provided terrific support through staff, their legal department, conferences, and listserves. Large private foundations helped show us the way. In 2005 the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Ford Foundation published a report, “On the Brink of New Promise: The Future of U.S. Community Foundations.”  Through this report, they laid out a vision of what community foundations could accomplish because community foundations are uniquely positioned and organized in ways to impact communities more than previously thought possible.  We listened, were inspired, and took their advice! The predicted expansion of the community foundation role is occurring.  I am proud that our community has recognized and supported this model.  Everybody is benefitting, and are seeing more robust giving, new collaborative efforts, and a stronger community. In 2012 as we grew and matured, we began researching into community initiatives and found that the Irvine Foundation had developed well-tested models for engaging the community in a collaborative process. By combining funding with volunteerism and leadership, they were able to improve persistent problems successfully.  We were sold! Our Community Foundation has helped other foundations and nonprofits, by mentoring charity leaders in our community, supporting organizations with fundraising and endowment management, by participating in, and sometimes leading, community collaborations. We have been noticed on the national scene and studied as one of the top performing community foundations. I have presented at national conferences about the model we have developed for development, relationships, and initiatives. Recently the San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation, and the Petaluma Community Housing Land Trust helped us with our research work to form the Community Housing Land Trust in our region.  Everyone benefits from the free sharing of information between professional foundation peers. The Mott Foundation’s work in support of community foundations has continued to expand to the international scene, and in just about 15 years their work has led to the existence of more community foundation internationally than in the United States.  The community foundation model works so well; it has virtually exploded around the world. Reno is the Biggest Little City with the Biggest Little Community Foundation.  The Community Foundation of Western Nevada has become a national leader. Our primary mission is to strengthen our region.  We are here for you.  Our office is near the Truckee River in the heart of Reno. Let’s meet for a great cup of coffee or tea and a piece of dark chocolate.  We appreciate the privilege of helping you with your charitable giving.  To discuss how we can work together to improve our community, please email or give me a call at 775-333-5499. Chris Askin, President, and CEO Connecting people who care with causes that matter.