Kari McCann Boutell, President
Iowa Council of Foundations
2020 has been a year like no other. When I first had my daughter, someone told me that the first few years of her life would be the longest, shortest years. That has proven true in her first 18 months, but especially true this year. As I reflect back on all of the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, some days it felt like we’d never make it to 2021. But, as I sit here in early December looking back, in some ways it feels like the year has been a short sprint (okay, a long sprint). While we may be starting to see the “finish line” as the promise of vaccines fills the news, let’s not forget the lessons that 2020 has taught the communtiy foundation field.
- Meet donors where they are at. During Connect and our November PLC we heard so many unique ideas of how people have been connecting with their donors: virtually via Zoom, on back porches and patios, through virtual events and during online giving days. Many leaders reflected that these strategies have created new opportunities for donor development – including inviting conversation about estate planning. As we move into what will likely be some more months of social distancing, remember there are several unique ways to meet your donor where they are. And perhaps, this is a practice we can hold onto well into the future.
- We don’t have to go back to the way things were. We are creatures of habit. Our tendency when we find our new normal will be to return to the ways we have always done things. This will likely be true of our grantmaking in communities as well. I encourage you to revisit the lessons that I shared during our opening Connect session to see which of these shifts and changes in grantmaking practice that have occurred over the last several months may stick for the long-term. Consider:
- Simplifying grant applications and process
- Loosening grant restrictions
- Extending grant periods
- Unrestricting restricted grants
- Providing general operating support dollars
- Not requiring matching funds
- Lifting traditional reporting requirements
- Community foundations are critical to relief, response and recovery in communities. For the past several years, we have learned about the roles community foundations can play in disaster philanthropy through The Funders’ Network’s PPREP Cohort. We’ve shared those lessons with you at Connect sessions, on this webinar and in our Iowa Community Foundations Initiative Disaster Philanthropy Toolkit. This year, again, community foundations proved they are critical to the success of community response. We see this in pandemic response and certainly in response following the derecho, as community foundations opened funds, coordinated volunteers, and partnered with countless organizations to meet the most pressing needs in their communities. 2021 will surely require us to continue rising to the challenge and meeting the moment.
Take a moment. Take a breath. The tireless effort of community foundation staff, board members, and volunteers has made a lasting impact in communities throughout Iowa – in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. We look forward to working together – with you – as we prepare to enter the new year. We are grateful for your partnership.