10 things to know about community philanthropyBy: Veronica Blake
Everyone defines philanthropy differently.
To some, it is volunteering at the animal shelter or food pantry or at a place of worship. To others, it is serving on a board or committee in the community. For others, it’s giving money to a cause they care about.
While philanthropy sounds fancy, the meaning is quite simple: to show goodwill to fellow members of the human race. You can do that through giving of your time, talent or treasure. You probably don’t think much about philanthropy and its impact on the community on a daily basis, but the effect of giving back to the community is all around us. Philanthropy contributes to making the quality of life in Placer County enviable in one of the fastest growing areas in Northern California. At Placer Community Foundation (PCF) we think about philanthropy every single day. It’s what we’re all about, and we want you to understand it better.
Here are 10 things about community philanthropy we think you’d like to know.
Philanthropy is community leadership. One of the most important things that philanthropic organizations do is lead. Because we’re tuned in, and at multiple tables throughout the community, we understand the challenges that people are facing in daily life. From hunger to isolation, to jobs, education or housing — we’re working side-by-side with decision-makers in our community. There are times when an issue needs addressing, and we use our connections and expertise to bring people together to listen, problem-solve and act to make change.
Philanthropy provides non-partisan solutions to community issues. When it comes to the wellbeing of people in our community, we believe philanthropy is a non-partisan issue. As an organization, we don’t have a specific political bias, and our donors, trustees and grant recipients reflect the many opinions of community that we serve. While we work closely with government and elected officials, PCF isn’t a government organization.
Live local, give local. There are so many great causes to support in this world, and we believe you should give where your greatest passion lies. For many people, what matters most is the community where they live. It seems like life is pretty good here in Placer County, but poverty and inequity exists. Affordable housing is hard to find for middle-class workers and families. It’s shocking, too, that 18,000 of our youngest citizens; students in Placer County schools are eligible for free or reduced school lunches. And in our county, 1,800 students are homeless. That’s a sign that things aren’t entirely perfect in our community and why local philanthropy should be a priority. Our community is a microcosm of the world, and many issues on the world stage also exist here at home.
You can’t be an expert at everything. People think it’s easy to give away money, but being a philanthropist isn’t that simple. You want to be discerning with your giving and make the most of it. We can help you develop a giving strategy and plan, so your hard-earned money goes to organizations that are excellent at making the changes you want to see.
Leaving your legacy. Most people support a variety of nonprofits throughout their lifetime with annual gifts, special appeals and active volunteering. This consistent giving builds a relationship with an organization and helps you understand and appreciate the work they do. Have you ever thought about what a gift from your estate could do for the community? A provision in your will or a naming a nonprofit as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or a retirement plan can be one of the most significant gifts you’ll ever make. Realized planned gifts like the one from the estate of Walter and Irmgard Schichtel created a fund at PCF that helps disadvantaged youngsters improve their reading skills.
Flexibility + choice. It’s important for donors to be able to choose where their funds go and what kinds of projects they want to support. With a gift to, or fund at PCF you’ll have the ability to choose to give to our Community Needs Fund or create a fund that reflects your individual interest and holds your name (or the name of a loved one). Whatever it is you want in your charitable giving, we want to help you achieve it.
For good. For ever. PCF is an endowed organization, and it is our endowment that gives us strength. Since 1948 we’ve been stewarding and growing the community’s “savings account.” Donations are carefully invested, and we spend only a portion investment income to make grants and support leadership initiatives. An endowment is excellent for making sure that there will always be funds to help the people of Placer County.
We are the community. Just like you, our lives and livelihoods are centered in Placer County. Our 13-member board of trustees lives and works in the community. Our small staff is dedicated to keeping Placer County and its diverse communities thriving.
A sweet deal for retirees. More and more often we meet with people in the community who have diligently saved for the future and are now discovering they’re in pretty good financial shape. Thanks to the IRS, people can donate a portion of their annual minimum distribution to a local nonprofit. People 70 ½ and older can donate up to $100,000 from an IRA to a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and not pay taxes on that distribution. It’s an innovative way to be generous.
Giving in Placer County is easy to do. There are hundreds of worthy organizations in our community that need your time, talent or treasure. We hope this gives you some ideas, rationale, and inspiration for your philanthropy. If you have any questions, call your favorite nonprofit leader or contact PCF at 530-885-4920.
Veronica Blake is CEO of Placer Community Foundation.