Everyone wants to help during a crisis, and, for many, that means giving money. But few understand what it takes to distribute funds to the people, businesses, or nonprofits that will create the greatest impact and fulfill the most need—especially if the money lives in different funds at different organizations.
Enter the country’s community foundations, more than 160 of which we are privileged to serve as clients. Community foundations exist to help others do more with less and find ways to strengthen a community through common resources, ingenuity, and communication. And they are inherently good at sharing information and resources…in fact, they do it all the time.
On the evening of July 30, 2016, a severe thunderstorm moved into the historic Old Town area of Ellicott City, MD, resulting in a flash flood that severely damaged roads, homes, businesses, and landmarks. The flooding spurred a downtown business group to raise funds, but left them with the (not unusual) conundrum of how best to distribute the money.
The dilemma is remembered by Foundant’s Client Success Manager Aaron Spevacek:
How do you gather information and data to make the best grants when so many need support? How do you decide who is ‘neediest’? How can you use data to coordinate support with other funders?
The Community Foundation of Howard County was in the process [at that time] of implementing an online grant management system. They hadn’t finished training on how to use the software, but they stepped in to provide the staff, experience, and due diligence required to make the best decisions in a tough situation.
We [Foundant] quickly created for the community foundation a live [Grant Lifecycle Manager] site and created forms and a workflow that would work for the foundation and its partners, got them trained, and they were off and running.
By deferring to the community foundation’s experience, professional staff, and understanding of what it means to give money in an impactful way, the business group was able to place the funds they raised in the right hands at the right time.
We were pleased to support their efforts.