Cumberland funder to help raise $20 million for nonprofits

By Todd Cohen

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The Cumberland Community Foundation has launched an effort help local nonprofits raise a total of $20 million in endowment funds by 2020.

The Foundation already is working with 30 nonprofits and manages endowments for many of them.

“The idea is to build sustainable support for our lead nonprofit organizations that generate revenue for them every year,” says Mary Holmes, executive director.

The effort will include working with each nonprofit to identify its needs for training and support to build its endowment and planned giving.

The Foundation then will provide free assistance to the nonprofits to help train their boards and staffs to communicate and work with donors to cultivate endowed gifts.

The endowments for the nonprofits will be housed at the Foundation, which will charge its standard fee of 1 percent or less to partially offset the costs of administering the endowments, including accounting, investment management, gift processing, reporting to donors and regulatory compliance.

Total assets at the Foundation, which was formed in 1980, grew to an all-time high of $60 million in September, including $50 million in endowed assets.

The Foundation makes about $3 million in grants a year, and in June exceeded $30 million in grants it has made since it was founded.

On Nov. 1, it announced $440,000 in grants.

Those include grants of $250,000 to Communities in Schools of Cumberland County to support work to reduce high school drop outs, $125,000 over five years to Better Health of Cumberland County to address childhood obesity, and a total of a $65,000 to Fayetteville Family Life, Coordinating Council on Older Adults, Child Advocacy Center and Vision Resource Center to help those suffering with mental health issues and their families.

Total assets at the Foundation have grown from $7 million 15 years ago, and over 86 percent over the last five years, but the endowments the Foundation manages for nonprofits have not grown at the same rate, Holmes says.

“The difference is that most of the nonprofits are living hand-to-mouth and they’re on the gerbil wheel,” she says. “They can’t pause on their annual fundraising long enough to think about sustainability. We have really smart people running great nonprofit organizations. There’s just not enough annual support.”

To help develop its new sustainability initiative, the Foundation held four focus groups with senior executives from 15 nonprofits talk about the readiness of their organizations and boards to create and build endowments, their current strategy, and the support they would need from the Foundation.

“Every nonprofit is on a continuum of readiness to build endowment,” Holmes says. “We’re’ helping them reach out to donors to build endowments they already have, but also helping them reach donors to create new endowments.”


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