Nurturing and encouraging a community

Rande Richardson

Over the last several years, the Northern New York Community Foundation has continually looked for ways to extend its reach and scope to fulfill the true spirit and mission by which it was established in 1929. Moving beyond being a transactional grantmaker is a path we believe we should pursue, as making investments through grants and scholarships is really only part of the story. Those efforts have been well received, as the diversity and number of charitable funds and legacies administered on behalf of individuals, families, organizations and businesses has grown significantly. Also during this time, our service area extended to include St. Lawrence County, whose residents have responded positively, with many establishing permanent funds and others supporting the Foundation’s overall efforts to enhance the region’s quality of life. The experience of philanthropy should not belong to any one group or demographic and the options for expressing it should be as diverse as the community itself.

   The Foundation, through the support of its donors, past and present, has been able to implement new programs which encourage and nurture community awareness, leadership and instill the interest and desire to give back across generations. This is most evident in our Youth Philanthropy and Next Generation LEAD Councils. We have also have been steadfast in our belief that one of the most important responsibilities we have is to be a resource to nonprofit organizations that provide both basic services and quality of life enhancements by offering additional tools to ensure their ability to fulfill their mission for the long term. This has included helping build partnership endowments that serve to both diversify revenue streams in good times and bad and also provide donors with a heightened level of structure and long-term stewardship when they choose to support the charitable interests they are most passionate about. This is powerful!

   Because of these things, the Community Foundation reached a crossroads. Over a year ago, thoughtful discussion began regarding how to accommodate the increased reach and scope and ensure that we were properly positioned to continue to diversify the way we serve our community, the donors who support it and the organizations we are able to invest in. Moving simply to provide more office space was not reason nor visionary enough.

   We continually ask organizations we serve to find ways to minimize duplication, find efficiencies of scale, and look for opportunities to share and collaborate when it makes sense. We needed to do the same. We looked inward and asked: “is this an opportunity for us to do better, in a more collaborative way, doing more, for our community, its organizations, donors and all those we strive to serve?”

   The alignment of stars and months of due diligence provided even greater clarity on how to best enter the next chapter.

Following the lead of other community foundations across the state and country, we embraced the philanthropy center concept as a way to:

  • Create a sustainable model that will enable sharing and consolidation of resources (space, services, staff, ideas, technology) with other nonprofits in a synergistic setting while reducing operational costs for up to seven charitable organizations under one roof, including our own.
  • Provide convening and collaboration space for nonprofit organizations and community groups.
  • Provide additional space to expand and grow Youth Philanthropy, Next Generation LEAD and educational internship programs.
  • Offer additional ways to tangibly celebrate, recognize and honor north country philanthropy, and those who have made, and are making, it possible, with the hope that others will be moved and inspired to perpetuate it.

   The new space that we will share with others must be for and about our community. It will open the door to convenings and leadership opportunities and serve as a catalyst for specific and broad philanthropic activities.  

   The third floor will provide organizations the ability to develop a shared services model. All will benefit from the synergy of being united in a facility that promotes new thinking in regards to all ways that allow more charitable resources to go further. The Center itself will be both efficient and sustainable, as up to seven organizations (including the Community Foundation) share one home.

   With the help of Purcell Construction, an historically significant building was preserved, restored and returned to community use, enhancing the other investments being made in the Downtown area. With over $2 million raised, the community expressed its will to make it happen, sharing the vision for the space and its potential to broadly support all charitable organizations with contributions of various sizes.

In the end, the Philanthropy Center is a tool and will only be as valuable as the way it is used. We take this responsibility seriously. We hope you share with us in celebrating this next chapter in community philanthropy that this collaborative venture represents, while honoring the past, celebrating the present and preparing for the future. It is the natural next step in realizing and building upon the same bold vision and mission that the founders of your community foundation had 88 years ago that you continue to embrace, and that enhances the quality of life for us, and those who will come after us.

 

Preserve the stories that make us great

 

Rande Richardson

Rande Richardson

We owe it to those who have come before to do all we can, as best as we can, as long as we can, to make this place great. As we head into the season of counting blessings and sharing those blessings with others, it’s a perfect time to point out how well the north country does both of these. Our citizens, organizations and businesses have maintained and grown a great tradition and heritage of civic pride and caring over many, many years. Without that tradition, some of our greatest community assets would not exist today. [Read more…]

July 2016: Nonprofits Today

Eight steps to help define excellence

Rande Richardson

Rande Richardson

We know the nonprofit sector’s impact has been consistently diverse, positively affecting education, human services, the arts and culture, religion, philanthropy, health and economic development. The Northern New York Community Foundation is increasingly looking to diversify how it supports the work of nonprofit organizations in our community. The nonprofit shared services collaboration floor within the future home of the philanthropy center is one immediate and tangible way we can do that. [Read more…]

May 2016: Nonprofits Today

Nurturing the next generation of giving

Rande Richardson

Rande Richardson

In the most recent issue of NNY Living magazine (Spring 2016), Norah Machia, who has long written about the work of the region’s nonprofit organizations, presented inspiring examples of the next generation making a real difference. If you accept the premise that vibrant communities need things that government can’t, won’t or shouldn’t provide and that the private sector has not found a way to make profitable, then you also believe that our charitable sector needs passionate supporters of all ages and backgrounds who are willing to give time, talent and treasure. [Read more…]

January 2016: Nonprofits Today

Be what’s right with our region this year

Richardson_RandeW-“Those who invest in our treasures are what’s right with Watertown. Make it your resolution to be a part of what’s right with Watertown.” — Mark Walczyk, newly elected Watertown city councilman

It is common at this time of year to look back and dream forward. During the New Year’s Day swearing-in ceremonies at Watertown’s Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, one didn’t have to listen too hard to find a theme emerge — hope and optimism for a greater community. Those assembled were gathered in a building that itself serves as a living example of civic pride, love of community, respect for heritage and giving back. It is hard to be in that space and not sense the importance of thoughtful stewardship. The best way we honor those who have led before us is by ensuring that this generation and the next recognizes the great responsibility, privilege, honor and joy of being a trustee. We honor yesterday by advancing tomorrow. [Read more…]

November 2015: Nonprofits Today

For a sincere ‘ love of humankind’

Richardson_RandeW“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will
not refuse to do the something that I can do.” — Helen Keller

Don’t let the word “philanthropy” scare you. Don’t for a second believe that the experience of philanthropy only belongs to someone else. The word comes from the Greek meaning “love of humankind.” That’s the only requirement. Simple. [Read more…]

September 2015: Nonprofits Today

A mission statement is your guide

Columnist Rande Richardson

Columnist Rande Richardson

Most organizations have a mission. Businesses have missions, projects and initiatives have missions. Even individuals have internal missions that help guide them, the decisions they make and how they allocate their resources of time, talent and treasure. [Read more…]

July 2015: Nonprofit Edge

Philanthropy’s reward beyond money

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Columnist Rande Richardson

Columnist Rande Richardson

Many of us have our first experience of giving as young children. For me, it was the act of putting two quarters in a Sunday School envelope and placing it in the offering plate. The experience of giving is a tradition that often becomes an integral part of life. It can be much like enjoying a good book, listening to favorite music, working in the garden or taking a walk. While we must be responsible and practical in our giving, it also is a journey, an evolving part of who we are and one way we define our lives. [Read more…]

May 2015: Nonprofits Today

Volunteers add value to nonprofits

Columnist Rande Richardson

Columnist Rande Richardson

In the world of philanthropy, there is a desire to find the alignment of passion, purpose and planning, always recognizing that giving back includes time, talent and treasure, all working together for greater impact. One of the most competitive advantages nonprofit organizations hold is the availability of volunteers. Our region’s charitable organizations have both the need and privilege of attracting individuals who, like donors, make a conscious choice to support and advance an organization’s work and mission. Nearly 63 million Americans volunteered at least once during 2014. For many nonprofits, operating without volunteers would be impossible. [Read more…]

March 2015: Nonprofits Today

Build better communities together

Columnist Rande Richardson

Columnist Rande Richardson

“Everyone is special in their own way. We make each other strong. We’re not the same. We’re different in a good way. Together’s where we belong. We’re all in this together. And it shows when we stand hand in hand, make our dreams come true.”
— Disney’s “High School Musical.”

In 2010, I attended a nonprofit panel discussion. The reporter covering the event began her accounting of the gathering stating, “Organizations alike have various missions, but also the same problems: availability and affordability of services and programs.” In the same article, Watertown Family YMCA executive director Peter Schmitt said “the only way to solve the common problems is for agencies to put aside their differences and work together to come up with solutions, and create effective partnerships. We’ve got to quit being territorial. We can get more done if we work together. Drop the insecurities, let’s get it done” he said.

Amen! [Read more…]