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Serving nonprofits

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By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Roughly 30 nonprofits in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County that received grants of more than $10,000 last year from the Foundation for the Carolinas are using software it provided to help them track their impact.

Based on ideas from dozens environmental groups and experts, the foundation also is developing a funding program to address land-use issues.

And nonprofits, individuals and families investing charitable dollars through the foundation now can allocate some of their funds’ assets to hedge funds as a way of managing investment risk.

All three efforts reflect the range of services the foundation offers as it retools itself to be a philanthropic-services hub, with new centers to serve corporate clients, individuals and families, and nonprofits.

“We are really honing very specific services and capabilities that support the discrete needs of these different client groups,” says Laura Meyer, executive vice president.

After launching centers for corporate philanthropy and for personal and family philanthropy last year, the foundation on June 6 launched its Center for Nonprofits.

The foundation also is promoting its efforts to work with and support professional advisers.

The foundation already works closely with financial advisers, accountants, lawyers and estate planners, Meyer says, and wants the network to help advisers support their clients’ philanthropic interests in the community.

Of more than $400 million in assets the foundation manages, roughly half represents assets of 400 nonprofit clients served by the new Center for Nonprofits.

Services the new center offers are geared to nonprofits’ needs ranging from planned-giving consulting and training to back-office administration and fiscal management.

This year, for example, the foundation has introduced hedge funds as an investment option for clients.

The center’s consulting services focus on needs such as finance and investment, communications, board and volunteer development, and organizational infrastructure and staffing, while its training services focus on more strategic initiatives such as planned giving and endowment-building.

“We’re doing this to create a seamless web of services to nonprofit organizations, from grantmaking to endowment-management,” says Holly Welch Stubbing, senior vice president for client services. “The idea is to give nonprofits a one-stop shop for services they need so they can focus on their programs and their mission.”

While providing some services itself, the foundation also will team up with other groups and experts to help fill the gaps where nonprofits might lack their own expertise, she says.

The foundation also uses its community know-how and connections to help nonprofit clients measure their impact, and to enlist them in helping it set funding priorities, says Don Jonas, senior vice president for community philanthropy.

Using ImpactManager, software developed by Chicago-based B2P Commerce, the foundation works with local nonprofits to set goals and track their performance.

And with the help of the Lee Institute, the foundation has worked with environmental groups and experts to identify land use as a priority, and is developing a program to fund natural-areas conservation.

“The foundation is open and eager to listen to the community,” Jonas says, “to try to help us solve problems.”

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