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Here for Good, Here Forever: The Case for Endowment

November 20, 2013

By Terri Lee Freeman, President

As I think about our upcoming 40th Anniversary, I think about how much good we at The Community Foundation have been able to accomplish along with the support of our donors. Reading through our newly published impact report – Equity, Access & Opportunity – I am struck by the breadth and depth of our impact throughout the region. But I am often troubled by what I know is a sobering fact: we are vulnerable to the unpredictable.

At any time, we could be hit by another tragedy of national scale like 9-11 or Hurricane Katrina. During those stressful times, we were fortunate to have the resources on hand to respond appropriately. This is not only our job, but our mission.

With the recent economic recession, we all saw our investments plummet and our returns shrink. Even more recently, during the ridiculous and unjustifiable government shutdown, several not-for-profit organizations in the region found themselves teetering on the edge of survivability due to capitalization worries. While The Community Foundation is not in that position, we are vulnerable in other ways.

Compared to some other large community foundations, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region is not particularly well-endowed. We have done a great job growing philanthropy among many charitably-inclined individuals, families, and businesses. We have worked hard with these donors to create a robust pool of invested assets ready to serve the needs of this community at a moment’s notice. But the truth of the matter is, we have not asked enough of our donors to endow their funds or to make gifts to our own endowed Fund for Greater Washington.

By putting others first, we have done a great deal to provide positive impact for the here and now. What we must do now – as the economy is recovering and folks are seeing accumulated gains in their portfolios again – is build endowment so that when the unthinkable happens and dollars go flying out the door (as we want them to do!) we will have a financial cushion to fall back on– thereby ensuring that we can continue to fulfill our mission in perpetuity during good times and bad.

That is why at this year-end, I am asking all our loyal donors to consider a gift to our unrestricted endowment fund – the Fund for Greater Washington. It is critical that we build this fund together, so that we all are protected from the worst and able to support each other when the need arises.

Thank you for your ongoing generosity and commitment to making our region the best it can be.

Since 1973, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region has been at the forefront in addressing community need and catalyzing change. Our newly published impact report focuses specifically on the impact of our work in the years after the 2008 economic downturn, a tumultuous period during which those keystones of economic security – quality education, the right job training, and basic needs such as housing and food – became more critical than ever. Click to read the report. 

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