There’s a quote you hear a lot in the world of community foundations: “If you’ve seen one community foundation, you’ve seen one community foundation.” What that means is while at our core each foundation is here to impact lives, solve problems, and improve futures, each foundation reflects its community and therefore is unique.
Michigan is home to sixty community foundations, four of which are in a 30-mile radius, and two of which are in Ottawa County. At the GHACF, we remain committed to bringing our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions for some of our most challenging social problems, while advancing the most promising opportunities to benefit our residents. In addition to serving the Grand Haven area, we also have two affiliate community foundations in Coopersville and Allendale.
While community foundations range greatly in asset size, they all share the common goal: serving donors, for-impact organizations, and the community as a whole.
Community foundations represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy, and this week marks the 30th Annual Community Foundation Week—a designation created in 1989 by former president George H.W. Bush. Every state in the United States is home to at least one community foundation—large and small, urban and rural—working to advance solutions on a wide range of social issues. They build and strengthen communities in a multitude of ways, including providing the means for a wide range of donors to create permanent funds to positively impact lives.
Community Foundation Week recognizes the work of community foundations throughout America and their collaborative approach to working with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to address community problems.
One of a community foundation’s special functions is to provide effective leadership and coordinate the needs and services in our communities, so that charitable gifts are used effectively to fulfill a community’s most critical needs. We work with families, individuals, attorneys, and estate and financial planners to design gift plans that fit every economic situation, ensuring that donors receive the most benefit from their charitable contributions and that their philanthropic dollars are used to their fullest extent.
The thing we want to get across to people is it’s not about how much you give, but how deeply you care. At the end of the day, we’re driven by our genuine need to see our community thrive. We invest in opportunities and people because we know that the future depends on what we do now in this moment. Community foundations aren’t just about the grants we give out, but the time we dedicate to listening to the needs of our community. We listened and helped invest in fair housing via Housing Next. We facilitated conversations about our community’s health through Ottawa County’s CHIP, the United Way’s ALICE, and the Ottawa County Youth Assessment Survey. Creating lasting, positive change takes time, and we as a foundation are committed to continuing to partner with this community in order to make where we live, work, and play the best it can be for all.