Home Back Issues May 2013 The power of community giving

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

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...

Gone Girl

News
Monday, September 29, 2014
roundup-logo-thumb-14BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Wehby disappears, Kitzhaber fails to disclose and Seattle gets bike share before Portland.


Read more...

The clean fuels opportunity

News
Monday, November 10, 2014
111014-dirtyfuel-thumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.


Read more...

Downtime

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Bob Dethlefs, CEO of Evanta, balances work and play.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

Reimagining education to solve Oregon's student debt and underemployment problems

News
Thursday, November 13, 2014
carsonstudentdept-thumbBY RYAN CARSON | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

How do we skill up our future technology workforce in a smart way to take advantage of these high-paying jobs? The answer shouldn’t focus only on helping people get a bachelor’s degree.


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