Business can help build local philanthropy

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A revamped community foundation is seeking to build a new generation of philanthropists in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys, and local businesses can help.

The Community Foundation of the Valleys (CFV) was originally focused only on the San Fernando Valley, but is now expanding its service area to include Santa Clarita.

The foundation also is partnering with the California Community Foundation, allowing it to tap CCF’s further encourage philanthropy from community members in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys.

By collaborating with the state foundation, CFV will benefit from their financial and legal assets as well as their credibility, said executive director S. Brigette Loden. While the valley foundation started in 2003, California Community Foundation has existed since 1915 and has $1.5 billion in assets.

“It allows us to take advantage of their history, their tradition, their expertise, their track record of being the oldest community foundation in California,” Loden said.

“The restructuring is something the organization has long dreamed about,” she added. “It has come at a time when there is increasing competition for foundation and business grants as governments cut funds to nonprofits, and economists predict an economic downturn in the next few years.”

CFV is seeking to instill a habit of local giving in the baby boomer generation, Loden said, noting that they often donate to national charities or their alma maters before giving locally. The foundation’s mission is a broad one: to improve the overall quality of life in its communities.

Local businesses can play several crucial roles in promoting local charitable giving, she added, first by being successful. “I was at a conference recently where an international banker spoke about the importance of strong businesses and strong capital markets to philanthropy,” she said, because without that base, strong non-profits aren’t possible.

Financial services firms and advisors can help educate their clients on the tax advantages of good estate and legacy planning. Loden said CFV intends to partner with the financial services community in both valleys to get that word out.

S. Bridgette Loden, executive director of Community Foundation of the Valleys.

Later this year, CFV will call on local businesses to join a “give local” campaign. “Mission Valley Bank did something similar to this with their ‘Give Where You Live’ campaign, and we’d like to build on that spirit.”

“That’s one of the beauties of a community foundation,” Loden said. “People can actually give and still be empowered where they want their funds as they utilize the benefits of what a community foundation does.”

CFV advances the philanthropic goals of a broad group of unrelated donors who wish to enhance their local quality of life by providing flexible, tax-effective ways to give. This could include permanent endowment funds from gifts of any size, using some of the annual income to support local non-profit organizations through grants and special projects.

Loden said she expects CFV to begin making grants on a small scale later this year, and ramp up that giving in the years to come. The foundation’s board of directors, advisory board and philanthropic leadership council will be involved to varying degrees in grant-making decisions.

CFV can help potential donors set up donor-advised funds, which are simpler and less expensive than creating family foundations.

“We really need to educate our community better about the importance of individual philanthropy,” Loden said.

“With the region served by CFV being home to more than 2.2 million residents, we have a unique opportunity to improve the futures of so many in need,” Tamara Gurney, chair of the CFV board of directors, said in a statement. “As many local nonprofits struggle to fund their services, CFV is more determined than ever to serve as the vital conduit between donors and community needs by encouraging the generosity and support of the Valleys’ residents.”

 

Loden believes there’s much work to be done to educate residents of the valleys on value of philanthropy. “It’s important more than ever to increase awareness of the importance of giving.”

According to California Community Foundation, the Valleys will receive a tremendous transfer of wealth in the coming decades, as Baby Boomers decode where their personal wealth will go after they die. Currently, household giving averages $1.400 per year and comes from about 40 percent of households.

“With our communities’ present-day challenges and the impending massive transfer of wealth, we believe it’s more important than ever to act on this unprecedented opportunity by supporting our local charities,” Loden said.

Generosity makes people both healthier and happier, she said, and philanthropy is a critical part of life. “What do you want to be remembered for?” she said. “How do you want to make it better for the next people?”

 

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