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Triangle Community Foundation forms consulting center.

By Todd Cohen

As part of its effort to expand philanthropy in the region, the Triangle Community Foundation has created a new center to help individuals, families and private foundations and corporations develop and operate customized giving programs.

Consulting services offered by the foundation’s new Triangle Center for Effective Philanthropy will be provided free to donors with $100,000 or more in funds at the foundation, or who have made planned gifts of $1 million or more.

“We wanted to ensure we could provide tailored and efficient services for families, individuals and companies that wanted to expand their impact in the community,” says Beverley Francis, the foundation’s director of philanthropic services.

Consulting services offered by the new center will be available for a fee to other donors, who also can obtain free materials and work on their own to develop their giving programs.

Fees have not yet been determined, but Francis says the foundation tentatively is considering charging a fee based on the amount of consulting services the foundation provides to those other donors.

With 550 donor-advised funds and a philanthropic-services staff of only three people, the $95 million-asset foundation found one-on-one consulting to be “very time-intensive,” Francis says.

“In helping donors become more strategic in their giving, we also needed to be more strategic in the delivery of the services we provide,” she says. “We recognized we could not continue to provide this level of service to every donor, and not all donors were interested in this level.”

If qualified donors are not receiving one-on-one consulting services, members of the philanthropic-services staff assigned to those donors’ funds will talk to them about the package of services the new center offers, Francis says.

The foundation has been providing training for the new center’s services to members of the philanthropic services team, which will fill an open position in January and also includes Shannon St. John, the foundation’s president, who works with donors who are foundation board members or former members.

In January, Lori O’Keefe, associate director of development at Carolina Ballet, will begin work as the foundation’s philanthropic services liaison.

Services offered by the new center, to be launched publicly next July, include helping donors both develop a strategy and plan for their philanthropy, and also create, market and operate grantmaking programs to fit donors’ philanthropic goals.

Possible features of a grantmaking program, for example, include developing grant guidelines, screening applications, researching issues, connecting with community resources and other donors, and issuing challenge grants to spur giving by other donors.

Special services available to families include helping them think through their philanthropic values and interests, involve their children or grandchildren in their philanthropy, and prepare for transferring their wealth between generations.

The center also will work with donors’ family members who are not donors themselves.

“Our goal is to expand philanthropy in the Triangle, and the center is a tool for doing that,” Francis says. “By providing this service, we are expanding philanthropy, not only to current donors, but to potential donors and their families, and private foundations and corporations.”

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