Over the past several months, the Community Foundation embarked on a journey of evaluation that will inform the development of our new five-year strategic plan, which will take us through our centennial year of service to the region. Studies conducted by The Center for Effective Philanthropy as well as focus groups and interviews led by Gwen Webber-McLeod of Gwen, Inc. uncovered positive outcomes as well as opportunities for us to advance our work.
We were heartened to receive favorable feedback in the following areas:
- Community Leadership & Impact – We rated highly for having an impact on and understanding the Central New York community. This included appreciation for our issue-based funding such as LeadSafeCNY and the Black Equity & Excellence Fund, as well as our ability to bring people and organizations together to tackle big problems.
- Knowledge & Expertise – Our leadership in tracking and analyzing community issues through data was identified as a core strength. Nonprofit organizations also expressed gratitude for the coaching, leadership development and support we provide to maximize their potential for success.
- Commitment to Service – The majority of our donors and grantees reported as being satisfied with our overall responsiveness and noted that our staff exhibited professionalism, candor and trust. Our grant applicants find our application and reporting processes to be transparent, straightforward and adaptable.
You also challenged us to expand the impact of our work by focusing on:
- Taking bolder steps in our leadership. We should explore more multi-year funding opportunities and programs that support high performing local nonprofit organizations.
- Tackling the big issues. We are positioned to enact community transformation by advocating for public policy change and attracting more funding toward critical, high impact projects.
- Being present in the community we serve. We were encouraged to invite those most impacted by an issue to help be part of its solution and to further engage donors across varying economic and demographic backgrounds.
Our grant applicants and recipients helped us identify an opportunity to further open the channels of communication between them and our staff. We are working on plans to be in touch more often to listen and understand grantee needs and those of the communities they serve, especially populations that have been historically underfunded.
Our donors expressed an interest in connecting more often with each other and other members of the community. We hope to offer a variety of gatherings and convenings that will help our donors and supporters learn how to best tackle the region’s greatest concerns and opportunities.
And, perhaps most importantly, weaved throughout your feedback is a call for us to expand upon our commitment toward diversity, equity, access and inclusion – to amplify voices, be continually visible in the communities we serve and clearly communicate how our work supports those impacted by systemic racism or other bias.
As I prepare to transition from my role at the Community Foundation after 15 years of leadership this coming June, I could not be more proud of this work and thankful for your support and feedback. Your perspective has had a major influence on our new strategic plan, which will be released this summer. Until then, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-422-9538 if you would like to find out more about our process, the feedback we received or any aspect of our work.
Thank you again for trusting us to be your partner in philanthropy and community impact.
Peter A. Dunn
President and CEO