The Power of Giving Back: How Community Foundations Make a Difference
What is a community foundation?

What is a community foundation?

At its core, a community foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in a designated region. In the case of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the goal is to improve the quality of life in Northern New Mexico. It does so by pooling donations from individuals, families, businesses and other organizations, and investing those funds into long-term commitments, or as a response to immediate needs in the community.

Setting Goals

The Santa Fe Community Foundation was founded in 1981 by a small group of community members, during a time when budgets for government-sponsored programs like health and community services were being cut. Their goal was simple: to attract donors, invest their gifts and make grants from the interest, while keeping the principal working in perpetuity. Now, more than 40 years later, the foundation’s unique perspective enables them to see both local needs, and the solutions to those needs, in a way that that most other organizations can’t.

That original goal, as set forth by the Santa Fe Community Foundation, has since grown to include four areas of interest: 

  • Building permanent endowments that provide ongoing funding for local causes.
  • Using the income generated by endowments to make grants to non-profit and community organizations.
  • Playing a leadership role in the community by addressing local issues and advocating for policy changes.
  • Providing services to donors to help them identify causes and providing tax and legal advice to improve the effectiveness of their gifts.

Santa Fe Community Foundation: Filling Community Needs 

Many believe that the main concern of a community foundation is grantmaking. In fact, the true goal is to unite the community around important issues. The Santa Fe Community Foundation does this by bringing people together through learning hub workshops and classes, or by hosting events and getting out into the community. For potential or prospective donors who really want to get more involved, the Santa Fe Community Foundation is a vehicle to do just that.

The Santa Fe Community Foundation leverages community guidance toward finding causes to support. Through events and learning opportunities, the Santa Fe Community Foundation listens to the community and takes feedback, then turns that feedback into real world solutions for social issues. This value is integral to what they do. Through deep listening, and deep learning, the unique needs of the Northern New Mexico communities are revealed, and levels of support are generated.

An example of this is seen in the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s response to the Hermits Peak – Calf Canyon wildfires that struck Northern New Mexico in 2022. Because of the foundation’s deep relationships with non-profits and community leaders in Mora and Rio Arriba counties, farmers were delivered hay to feed their livestock, and those who couldn’t access roads because of flooding were delivered prescriptions, food and personal items. And all in record time.

Every Dollar Counts

Though community foundations do receive some funding from corporate partners and larger national foundations, the bulk of the donations received are from individuals. All donors have one thing in common, which is that they care about their community. The diversity of those donors’ interests and backgrounds ensures that no matter what the cause, there are those who can help, whether it be arts and culture, the environment, animal welfare, or anything else. Giving opportunities cover a wide array of causes and interests.

The important thing to remember when investing in the Santa Fe Community Foundation, is that there are no “small” donations. Every dollar received is meaningful, because community foundations are designed to grow over time, through endowments. So, what starts out as a $50 donation can actually grow in time to become part of a multi-million-dollar gift several years later!

For those who are considering becoming donors to the Santa Fe Community Foundation, there are a couple of ways to do so. The first is to visit the website, in order to learn about what the current concerns and causes may be, and to discover the kinds of giving opportunities that are available. Another is to call the Santa Fe Community Foundation directly and set up a meeting with their development team. By doing so, you can become part of the solution to improving the quality of life in Northern New Mexico, now and well into the future.

This article was posted by Rory Macpherson

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