The WMF is a community foundation supporting the long-term wellbeing of coastal West Marin. The Fund provides grants and training for local nonprofits, convenes community members to act on important community issues, and educates full and part-time residents about community needs.
The Fund serves the West Marin coastal area, from Muir Beach in the south to Dillon Beach in the north, and the contiguous ranch lands. The area includes the villages of Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Olema, Inverness, Point Reyes Station, Marshall, Nicasio, and Tomales.
The Fund is a 501(c)(3) California public benefit nonprofit corporation. All donations to the West Marin Fund are fully tax-deductible.
The role of nonprofits in our area, always important, has become increasingly critical as government funds for education, health, infrastructure, parks, conservation, the arts, and other vital activities decrease. Nonprofits strive to provide, as much as possible, the support and services that are being lost. In today’s economy, the needs for those services and the costs to support them are ever greater, while donations to nonprofits have decreased.
The prominent community foundation in the county, Marin Community Foundation, has provided important support to nonprofits in West Marin and continues to do so, but it cannot meet all needs. West Marin nonprofits have chronically suffered from insufficient operating funds, and that problem has grown worse in the last several years. In the last few years
- The Coastal Health Alliance lost $300,000 in federal funds (representing 8% of its budget) even as the demand for services from uninsured patients increased substantially.
- Gallery Route One, a nonprofit community art center providing school and environmental art programs, lost 11% of its annual operating budget due to a cutback in foundation giving.
- The Shoreline Unified School District, serving 555 elementary and secondary school students, was forced to cut $1,000,000 from its budget over three years, threatening arts, music, athletic, and other programs and even endangering core teaching positions.
West Marin has thrived on the principle that small is good and that diversity strengthens the whole. It has benefited from an array of nonprofits serving people between Muir Beach and Tomales. Yet by being small and responsive to specific local needs, our nonprofits are at special risk of losing funds when donors, foundations, or government agencies shift priorities or cut funding. At those times, their programs immediately suffer.
The Fund’s initial capital campaign is for $2,000,000 in cash donations, supplemented by planned gifts in wills or trusts. The goal is to complete the initial capital campaign in 2015. We intend to give out in grants well over the 5% expected of traditional foundations, and so far are granting well over 20%, on top of all our programmatic services. Our grants process is as simple as possible, and decisions about grants are made promptly according to a publicized schedule.
Currently the Fund offers small grants addressing specific needs, thanks to donations from generous donors. Ultimately, the Fund expects to provide more substantial operating support to the nonprofits serving our communities. In 2013-14 the Fund made four rounds of grants totaling over $220,000 to 96 grantees.