Community Foundation Sonoma County
For its leadership in taking the long view in providing funds for recovery and rebuilding needs, Community Foundation Sonoma County was nominated for a Community Philanthropy Award by Len Marabella, executive director of Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa.
The day after the fire outbreak, the foundation launched its Resilience Fund, raising public awareness of the need for an extended period of funding, given that the majority of giving — typically 70 percent to 80 percent — goes toward immediate relief.
The foundation asked donors to contribute to a plan focusing on mid- to long-term funding needs over a five-year period.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy found that forming a long-term investment fund is a best practice, and according to FEMA, recovering from the magnitude of the North Bay fires will take between three to seven years.
'We are gathering information to develop a strategy to ensure that the Resilience Fund will make an impact beyond initial funding and loans by government agencies and insurance sources,' said CEO and President Elizabeth Brown.
'We are also researching donor giving practices during disasters and collecting data based on local successes and outcomes experienced by others faced with similar situations.'
The foundation convened a meeting with 250 nonprofit leaders and funders last November, and in February hosted 10 listening sessions with some 200 attendees to assess which areas have the most urgent needs. This feedback will give Community Foundation Sonoma County direction on where to focus its funds.
A survey of nonprofit organizations in partnership with the Center for Effective Philanthropy and the Napa Valley Community Foundation is also being conducted to ensure that the Sonoma County foundation is able to address recovery and rebuilding needs both now and for the future.
'To date we have raised over $11 million. In November, we released one round of emergency grants totaling $300,000 to support 11 nonprofit organizations with immediate needs. We anticipate making our next round of grants this fall as specific funding areas are identified.'
In addition to Resilience Fund disbursements, Brown said Community Foundation Sonoma County is continuing its regular grant making programs which last year distributed over $15 million to nonprofit organizations.