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Grants training set for Richmond County

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By Todd Cohen

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — Equipping nonprofits in Richmond County to be more effective grant-seekers is the focus of a five-day workshop scheduled for July.

June 1 is the deadline for registering for the workshop, which will cost $150 and be open to 30 people representing nonprofit, government and faith-based groups.

To be led by The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, the workshop is a project of the Foundation for Richmond County, a fund of the Charlotte-based Foundation for the Carolinas that in recent years has focused on strengthening the operations of local nonprofits.

With just more than $89,000 in assets, the Foundation for Richmond County is one of only a handful of organized philanthropies in the county.

The Cole Foundation, a private foundation established in 1965 through bequests from Elizabeth Cole and her brother, Robert Cole, has $22.8 million in assets and made $1.3 million in grants in 2005.

Those grants address issues ranging from after-school programs for children to basic human needs such as food and clothing.

And the Richmond Community Foundation, founded in 2001 with proceeds from the sale of Richmond Memorial Hospital, is of comparable size and made grants of nearly $1.2 million in 2005, mainly in the areas of health care and wellness.

The Cole Foundation, established as a private foundation, now is a fund of Foundation for the Carolinas, while the Richmond Community Foundation is a private foundation that contracts with Foundation for the Carolinas for administration services.

The Foundation for Richmond County includes an undesignated fund that has opted in recent years not to make grants.

It also includes grant-making funds created by individuals and organizations.

The undesignated fund, instead of making grants, has chosen in recent years to sponsor seminars and workshops that focus on helping nonprofits strengthen the way they work.

“Rural counties do not have the businesses that have the capital for philanthropic programs,” says Dr. John S. Stevenson, chair of the foundation’s board and a partner at Charlotte Radiology in Rockingham.

With few local philanthropic assets, he says, Richmond County nonprofits typically seek grants from funders outside the county.

Yet the staff and volunteer board members at local nonprofits also may lack expertise in issues such as fundraising.

So the foundation, to get the greatest impact from its limited assets, decided several years ago to invest in seminars targeted to nonprofit staff and board issues, Stevenson says.

Over the past two years, for example, the foundation has held seminars on strengthening nonprofits, building effective boards and preparing grant applications.

After people who attended the grant-application seminar said they wanted more in-depth training, the foundation decided to hold the five-day workshop, says Susan Stewart, senior grants specialist at Foundation for the Carolinas.

Topics the workshop will address include researching and negotiating with funding sources, and completing grant proposals.

Support from the Cole Foundation has reduced to $150 from $825 the cost of attending the workshop, which will be held at Cole Auditorium at Richmond Community College.

In addition to the undesignated fund it uses for the seminars, the Foundation for Richmond County does manage funds for individuals and nonprofits.

Currently, it manages seven funds totaling nearly $866,000.

Foundation for the Carolinas processes its grants and manages the investment of its assets.

For information, contact Stewart at 800-973-7244.

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