As I reflect on the last 12 months, I see a year of many changes and challenges coupled with significant accomplishments and activities. No one would have imagined how the pandemic and economic recession would affect our local communities, the Foundation, or our work. I believe we matured as an engaged local funder and will continue to grow in the coming year – and beyond.
Guiding us has been our philosophy and theme for the last year: LACF… where community comes together! We’ve taken these words to heart. We continued to deepen and strengthen our relationship with local communities and expand our relationships with donors and community members to assist them in their philanthropic journeys. Collaboration has been key as we sought new ways to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with our local and regional grantees, civic and elected leaders, and other organizations with whom we share priorities and values. These collaborations continue to inspire us, and we are humbled by the positive feedback we’ve received on our efforts thus far.
Below are a few highlights:
- Through the launch of COVID relief and recovery funds, small business support funds, and hardship funds, LACF collected and disbursed more than $1.4M in pandemic response. This achievement resulted from the strong support of the Foundation’s Board and leadership, its donors and funders, civic leaders, and the incredible efforts by our staff to highlight the local needs and work with organizations on their specific responses.
- LACF launched a pilot effort to fundraise for our Community Grants program after receiving an overwhelming number of proposals. While short in duration, the Foundation raised approximately $40,000 from residents to augment the Spring grantmaking budget. Coupled with our annual fundraising success (more than $400,000 raised), our donors continued to step up and support the Foundation’s priorities.
- We refined our approach to simplify our grant application process and provide more flexibility for general operating support – and allowed us to strengthen relationships with local organizations, whether currently funded or not by the Foundation. It also allowed us to assist emerging local organizations better, especially those with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) leadership.
- LACF redefined its fiscal sponsorship approach to better support emerging and minority-led projects. Our new approach emphasizes the support of emerging and BIPOC leaders and offers a more robust framework beyond just providing administrative assistance. Notably, we took on two new fiscally sponsored projects: Appetite For Good, with its dual focus on supporting small restaurants and addressing food insecurity. The Latina women-led Mountain View Solidarity Fund (Solidarity Fund) focused on undocumented residents in Mountain View. The Foundation is now assisting the Solidarity Fund leaders as they negotiate the parameters of a $1M allocation from the City of Mountain View to provide direct financial assistance to local undocumented residents and others unable to receive support through other channels.
- Over the past year, LACF launched Community Conversations – facilitated webinars designed to educate our donors about emerging issues and how the Foundation plays a role in addressing them. Our most recent Conversation focused on the K-shaped recovery in our communities and brought together an esteemed panel of local leaders. Stay tuned for more Community Conversations webinars in the coming months.
- Even a small organization like LACF must embrace cultural and operational changes that advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) best practices in our work – and our community. Members of our Board and staff have participated in training opportunities, such as understanding implicit bias. They are now participating as one of eleven community funders in a six-month-long cohort under the Equitable Evaluation Initiative (EEI), a leading effort to redefine best practices in evaluation. This training will bring an equity lens to our evaluation and assessment work, help us educate other organizations and donors, and engage our communities and nonprofits in these practices more appropriately.
Thanks to countless hours volunteered by our Board members and the long hard work by staff, we have successfully navigated through a global pandemic and created new opportunities for our Foundation in the process. Recently, LACF announced five new directors to our Board, all of whom will bring their diverse personal perspectives and professional experience to help us build a better community. In addition, we have our donors, supporters, and friends to thank for standing with the Foundation through the past year and encouraging us to expand our wings and become more engaged in the critical issues affecting our communities.
So, what should you expect from us moving forward? As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we will reflect on LACF’s past accomplishments while highlighting how the Foundation has evolved to take on exciting new opportunities. We will continue to build on our current activities but with a focus on reimagining how we live and support each other in our communities.
This emphasis will include:
- Finding new ways to engage community members in the practice of philanthropy so they can play a role in enhancing community vitality
- Positioning the Foundation for an endowment campaign
- Engaging donors in more tailored education opportunities so that they better understand the issues affecting our communities.
Rebuilding and reimagining our communities will not be linear work – I expect other emerging issues will also compete for attention and funding. But, I do know this: you, as part of our LACF family, will continue to support us and uphold the value of mutual collaboration and, most of all – community.
LACF… where community comes together!
Adin Miller, Executive Director
Los Altos Community Foundation