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Changes ahead

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Community Foundation of Western North Carolina alters grantmaking.

By Jennifer Whytock

ASHEVILLE, N.C. [06.21.04] — The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina is overhauling its main grant program and launching an online system to give donors access to their fund accounts.

Starting this fall, donors can use an online system to check their fund balance, advise the foundation how to allocate their money, and learn about grantee needs, says Pat Smith, executive director.

The foundation also will create a women’s fund that will focus on issues such as domestic violence, job training and health care, Smith says, adding that the region has the highest incidence of breast cancer in the state.

After surveying its grantees, the foundation decided to redesign its eight-year-old main grantmaking program, New Horizon, which last year made $760,837 in grants, part of $1.5 million in unrestricted, competitive grants the foundation made overall, says Smith.

The program, which had made grants of $15,000 or less, will be split into separate small and large grant programs to fund both new and established projects.

The foundation aims to create a quick application process with little paperwork for nonprofits seeking grants of $7,000 or less to fund small projects.

Under the larger program, for grants of $25,000 or less, nonprofits will have to submit letters of intent, and the entire application process will be longer and more involved, says Evie Sandlin White, communications officer.

The foundation will offer free workshops August 9-18 to help grantees understand the new program, which will begin in July.

In the year ended June 2003, the $110 million-asset foundation made $11.5 million in donor-advised grants, unrestricted competitive grants and scholarships to nonprofits in 18 counties.

In the past two years, 72 new donor funds were created, bringing the total number of funds to 650.

Most donors to the foundation are individuals because the region lacks corporate support and private foundations, says Smith.

And because it serves a large territory, the foundation has formed nine small, local affiliates, each with its own board, to raise money locally and determine how local grants are made.

“We can’t know all areas like we’d like to,” says Smith, “because it’s a three-hour drive to reach all of the region we serve.”

The foundation manages money raised by each affiliate, trains affiliates on grantmaking and fundraising, provides staff assistance, writes news releases and oversees their grantmaking.

The foundation is the 58th-largest community foundation in the U.S. in assets, and the third largest in the state, trailing only the Foundation for the Carolinas in Charlotte and the Winston-Salem Foundation.

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