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Foundation reaches out

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By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C.  — Efforts by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro to involve a broader range of people in philanthropy are starting to pay off.

New gifts to the foundation in the fiscal year ended June 30 grew to $12 million from $10 million a year earlier, with new donors accounting for 40 percent of those new gifts, while the number of donors ages 25 to 45 giving $125 or more grew to 250 from 200.

Helping to fuel those increases are a “Future Fund” initiative the $65 million-asset foundation formed in 1999 to enlist more young adults, and a “Partners in Philanthropy” initiative it launched in 2002 to promote greater diversity in philanthropy.

Now, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., the community foundation is mapping plans to do more to reach out to blacks, Latinos and other ethnic and minority groups, as well as women, young people, young adults and faith-based groups.

Walker Sanders, the foundation’s president, says the effort will address “all aspects of our operation,” including tracking and aiming to increase the diversity of donors, board members, staff, committees, grants and vendors.

The foundation, for example, plans to sponsor a series of “learning circles” and roundtable talks to reach people and groups “that traditionally have been outside the philanthropic mainstream.”

It also wants to revive a program to boost youth philanthropy; create a program to educate the community about the foundation’s work; diversify membership in its young-adult fund; expand its Web site to be an “interactive connection point” for citizens; strengthen internal operations to boost diversity; and find new ways to get the community involved in the foundation.

The grant from Kellogg, which a year ago launched a separate initiative to identify, tap and spur new philanthropy in North Carolina, aims to move local philanthropy beyond the “same faces,” Sander says.

“We want this community foundation to look and feel like the community of Greensboro so that it’s responsible to all parts of the community and accessible to all parts of the community,” he says.

The goal, he says, is to identify “some intentional things we can do to make the community foundation more open and accessible to a diverse community.”

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