Tuesday, August 27, 2013

At 29

I never thought this would come out of my mouth, but I think I may be a cougar.  Yes, I love a 29 year old.  Who wouldn’t?  Isn’t everyone looking for the perfect combination of wealth and generosity?  An equal amount of empathy and sympathy?  A leader willing to follow and a follower willing to lead?  It’s true, I love the Community Foundation. 

This month the Community Foundation of Grant County celebrates our 29th birthday.  I remember my own 29th.  Married with a baby.  Jet-setting every week with a really cool job.  Staying up late, yet still getting everything done.  Lots of responsibilities and plenty of energy to take care of them all.  You remember 29.  The best of our life was ahead of us and we were finally mature enough to fully appreciate how precious that fact really was. 

At 29, that’s where we are today.  No longer in the infancy stage of non-profithood.  And just mature enough in our growth that that Foundation has a good, well, foundation.  From a time when the goal of having a $5 million endowment for Grant County seemed all but impossible to today where a $20 million endowment is on the horizon. 

At 29, we celebrate our sustainability.  For the first year in our existence, we can proudly state that your Community Foundation is 100% sustainable.  That’s big!  Huge!  It means that we no longer need to fundraise for our own day-to-day operations.  Instead, generous donations to our operating endowment throughout the years now produce enough income to keep us in running efficiently and effectively.  This means that at the very least we’ll be able to continue to provide the same services that we are providing today…forever.  That’s 29.

At 29, we know a million dollars weighs about one metric ton, thus the phrase ‘a ton of money’.   So, we can safely tell the world that we’ve officially given over 12 tons of grant money across the Grant County community.  $12,000,000.  That’s 12 as in a dozen and ‘M’ as in multiple millions!  This is what a hearty endowment that follows the give, grow, grant model can do…right here in our little hometown.  Donations big and small, from coins contributed by kids to estates left as legacies, made this possible.  A wise board with conservative investment strategies grew those funds to nearly $20 million.  And by never spending the original donation and only a percentage of the earnings, we’ve been able raise that $20 million and still give back $12 million in grants.  It makes me love math.  That’s 29. 

At 29, we can safety say that some of our local college graduates proudly display their diplomas with some thanks to the Community Foundation.  Books and classes are expensive.  But, not as costly as a community with low educational attainment rates.  We understand that educational attainment and economic development have a corollary relationship.  That’s why we’ve made an investment this year of over $420,000 in scholarships for Grant County lifelong learners of all ages.  And, this week those dollars are being put to work as the fall semester is in full swing across Indiana campuses.  I can just feel the quality of life improving as I type.  That’s 29.

At 29 we’ve got a lot going for us.  That’s exactly why you’ll notice some things won’t change one bit.  We’ll still be the hub of giving in Grant County and still work diligently to invest our grants and scholarships with the most worthy candidates.  But, there’s one gift that 29 gives you.  The wisdom to know that there’s a lot more to know.   That’s where we are at 29.

So, over the course of our 29th year, you’ll see us perfecting our craft.  Our mission will morph from simply promoting community to supporting sustainable impact.  Conventional assumptions of non-profit growth will transform.   Our focus will be based on what you, our donors/readers, value most.  The lens of innovation will help us to clearly deliver what we promise. 
mini pillow rings

But, like Thomas Edison (and now Ashton Kutcher) said, opportunity looks like work.  And if there’s one thing our team’s not afraid of, it’s a little hard work.  In fact, we’re even considering the purchase of some mini pillow rings to cushion our chins as we contemplate our genius.  Or maybe buying some of that new spray caffeine.  Because at 29, we know the best is yet to come.

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