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Operating capital

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By Todd Cohen

Strong charities are critical to help build strong communities.

But too few funders are willing to make grants to help charities strengthen their internal operations.

Two big banks based in Charlotte, N.C., however, are showing they recognize charities’ urgent need for operating support, and the close link between effective charities and thriving neighborhoods.

A $13 million investment last year by Bank of America to spur thriving neighborhoods in 30 of its markets included grants of $200,000 to each of two nonprofits in each market to boost their operations.

The bank this year is adding eight markets and investing another $17 million.

And Wachovia recently gave $1.5 million to offices in 12 cities and rural areas throughout the U.S. operated by the New York City-based Local Initiatives Support Corp., which works to strengthen the operations of community groups working to revive ailing neighborhoods.

Since 1998, Wachovia has made more than $4 million in grants and $21.5 million in loans available to LISC for community-building efforts.

By helping local charities help themselves become stronger and more effective, both banks are setting an example for the kind of flexible funding charities need.

By investing in nonprofit operations, these funders are investing in communities.


Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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