Sponsored by Oregon Business

The power of community giving

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013

BY MAX WILLIAMS

0513 BOB FoundationsCharitable giving can bring people together on many different issues to find solutions that cross the traditional Oregon divides of geography, politics and culture.

Here in Oregon, there are wonderful examples of deeply committed individuals and families whose names are well known: the Schnitzers, the Hamptons, Fred Meyer, the Swindells, the Fords, the Grays, the Fields and many others who have dramatically given back to Oregon both as individuals and through foundations.

As a statewide organization, the Oregon Community Foundation brings both big and small donors together under one structure, leveraging their charitable dollars beyond their face value. This commitment to philanthropy at all levels gives us both a sense of optimism and many opportunities to improve life in Oregon.

But with this optimism and belief in the promise of Oregon, we are not blind to the state’s challenges. My experience in the Oregon legislature combined with running the state’s prison system for eight years has made me abundantly aware of the challenges that Oregon faces — structural, economic, geographic and demographic — coupled with a loss of trust and confidence in institutions to resolve our problems. There is hardly a category of Oregonian or region in our state that isn’t challenged, some dramatically more than others.

And while I don’t believe that foundations can solve all of our problems, I believe we have an important role to play. I believe that foundations have a combination of tangible and intangible resources that are highly distinctive.

First, we have money: a permanent endowment that allows us to take the long view and that provides us with flexible cash — not enough to grant our way to solving all of these problems, but enough to research, develop innovations and convene partners.

Second, we have broad networks. We can be effective in building partnerships and networks across a variety of sectors and in working with volunteers, donors and other foundations to leverage our efforts. One example of this approach is OCF’s work on the Chalkboard Project, founded with our partner foundations: the Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and the Jeld-Wen Foundation. Ten years later, nearly 50% of Oregon’s schoolchildren are benefitting through Chalkboard’s innovative work in school districts around the state. The effort, research and collaboration that went into developing Chalkboard is a tremendous example of the role that foundations can play in working toward solutions to Oregon’s big challenges. Today the Chalkboard partners have expanded — and represent private, public and corporate philanthropy — all dedicated to helping narrow Oregon’s education achievement gap.

Third, foundations have credibility. Surveys suggest there is a significantly higher level of public trust in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors than in either government or business. This trust often allows us to do things that other sectors can’t: to take risks when the tried — and true — methods aren’t working and to be patient when only long-term responses will yield the best results. This trust is maintained through smart investment and transparency in our work.

Foundations do have a unique capability to navigate the critical intersection between the public, the private and the nonprofit sectors. If we do it well, we can continue to find innovative solutions that are scalable to address our most pressing statewide and community challenges. Although our challenges will change over time, we know that the success of philanthropy will continue to rest on our ability to bring people together in new and creative ways based on common values and the fundamental generosity of committed Oregonians. And if Oregon’s history of caring and innovation are any indication, foundations are poised to be even stronger partners in Oregon’s future, forging a path to positive change.

Max Williams is president and CEO of the Oregon Community Foundation. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

More Articles

Cache and Curry

March 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Power Lunch at Swagat in Hillsboro.


Read more...

10 Oregon companies positioning themselves for growth

The Latest
Friday, March 13, 2015
vcthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Ten startups have secured venture capital, angel or seed funding in 2015.


Read more...

Party Like It’s 1999

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
pets-com-sock-puppetBY JASON NORRIS, CFA | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Pets.com, GeoCities, eToys, and WorldCom … blasts-from-the-past that all signify the late 1990s Internet bubble. Yet we believe the dynamics of the market, specifically in technology stocks, are much different today than it was during the late 1990s.


Read more...

Photos from the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon awards celebration

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
IMG 9975cneditPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the 2015 celebration of Oregon's great workplaces.


Read more...

Money Talks

March 2015
Saturday, February 21, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Will community banks survive the digital age? Three CEOs peer into banking's crystal ball.


Read more...

The week journalism died

Linda Baker
Sunday, February 15, 2015
deadjournalismthumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

As the investigation against the governor moves forward, those of us in the news business should reflect on our own potential for subverting the democratic process.


Read more...

Green Rush: Cashing in on legal marijuana

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Marijuana is big business in Oregon, and it’s about to get bigger.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS