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News & Press: ABAG's "Adventures in Philanthropy" Blog

Adventures in Philanthropy: "Community Foundations Play Vital Local Roles"

Friday, November 18, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Buffy Beaudoin Schwartz
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November 17, 2011

By Betsy Nelson
Special to The Daily Record

These are difficult times for many in our community. Unemployment remains high, paychecks don’t go very far, and every day it seems another public service is being curtailed in the interest of budget cuts.

That’s why the kinds of innovative investments being made by philanthropy — particularly community foundations — have never been more important in Maryland.

This week we recognize the vital role of more than 700 community foundations nationwide in supporting essential services such as health care clinics, food banks, domestic violence shelters, libraries, and volunteer fire departments.

In 2010, these foundations granted an estimated $4 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in the arts, education, health and human services, the environment, and disaster relief. Though they could never replace the role of government-funded services, community foundations can help nonprofit organizations and others by using their private resources for the public good.

Serving in unique ways

Maryland is home to 14 community foundations, each serving a region of the state in unique ways. Together, as the Maryland Community Foundations Association (MCFA), they speak with one voice in promoting philanthropy to benefit towns, cities and rural areas across the state.

Maryland’s community foundations specialize in helping individuals, families and businesses plan and carry out their charitable giving and in building endowments to serve their regions’ changing needs.

They build and strengthen philanthropy — and thus, communities — by making it simple and cost-efficient for individuals, families and businesses to establish philanthropic funds and to learn about and invest in the needs of their communities.

They are also permanent sources of philanthropic dollars and specialize in building civic endowments to serve their regions’ needs.

Marshalling financial resources

Community foundations serving Maryland hold a total of more than $700 million in philanthropic assets and distribute about $128 million in grants each year to nonprofit organizations in their communities, addressing a wide range of issues, from education to aging, from arts to the environment. They represent the collective philanthropy of hundreds of donors, including corporate, philanthropic and civic leaders.

Maryland’s community foundations know that the investments they make today will help people for many years to come. By marshalling the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses, we can address problems such as unemployment, stagnant economic growth, hunger, and poverty.

By strategically working with others, community foundations can equip society to more effectively deal with such future challenges in Maryland. And for this, we join with others celebrating National Community Foundation Week.

To learn more about Maryland’s Community Foundations, visit www.mdcommunityfoundations.org

Betsy Nelson, president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org



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