Latest Activity

Update August 2012

By August 22, 2012 No Comments

We’re active. The West Marin Fund has been busy in recent months. We’ve hired our first Executive Director and launched several programs which serve the non-profits and communities of West Marin.

We’re grateful to the early donors who are getting us off to a good start, helping us implement programs and provide new services – while we build a larger endowment that will allow us to move more funds to good use in the community.

We’re Listening.  We are convening small gatherings to introduce the West Marin Fund to a wider audience of people who’d like to know more about community investing with us.  At these casual events we’re listening for problems and projects that reflect the concerns of residents and part-timers alike.  Our first brunch in Inverness this month had a wonderful group of 20 people asking good questions and offering up excellent ideas about “unmet needs” for the Fund to consider. We’re planning others, including one on philanthropy at Commonweal in Bolinas. If you would like to host one of these informational house parties, please contact Catherine Porter: info@westmarinfund.org.

We’re also listening to non-profit directors and board members from throughout West Marin, hearing what they think are the most pressing problems and possible solutions.

We’re responding with direct services, like our Information Technology workshop August 30, and we’ve kicked off two new programs:  The Youth Philanthropy Program and the Local Loan Initiative. We’re grateful to a generous donor for the insight to invest in these new areas. See below for details.

Donors:  The West Marin Fund has a dozen donors getting us started. We need about 5 times that many to put us into solid grantmaking mode, so we can start to move funds to the non-profits who work here.  Many do the work that governments provide elsewhere, and many fill gaps left by changing priorities in other foundations.  This works needs our support. Please contact our new Executive Director, Catherine Porter, to discuss partnership with WMF.

Programs

The Youth Philanthropy Program aims to engage local young people in giving something back — investing in their communities.  They’ll start by scouting out “who needs help” and then design a fundraising plan to support a local non-profit of their choice. Interviewing local service organizations and deciding how best to help are key learning opportunities in this program.  The West Marin Fund will match each dollar raised, as well as support the training and education process.  For more information, see our website: westmarinfund.org/programs-services/youth-philanthropy-program

The Local Loan Initiative currently provides bridge funding for non-profits to continue their work as they await grants from government or foundations.  Our first loan, to the Tomales Bay Watershed Council, is made through support for this project from a generous donor and 5 other local investors who expect a small return (2%) while they Do Good in the community.   For more information – or if you would like to invest in the Local Loan Initiative, contact us at info@westmarinfund.org

Tomales Bay Watershed Council’s Carlos Porrata and Neysa King, and West Marin Fund’s Catherine Porter and Dick Lemon exchange documents for the bridge loan.

Direct Services to Non-profits:

We’ve surveyed the 62 local non-profits several times for input on their needs.  At the top of the list was “help with Information Technology.”  Do I need to use Twitter?  Is our website up to snuff?  Is there better software to manage our database?

The West Marin Fund is delighted that locally-based IT expert John Levy will lead a workshop for non-profits to answer these questions and others “they don’t even know they need to ask.” It’s August 30 at the Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station.  To reserve a spot, contact us: info@westmarinfund.org.

Other services that the non-profit community has requested include help with grantwriting, bookkeeping, legal issues and board development.  The West Marin Fund will be working with service providers like the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership and others to strengthen the capacity of our West Marin non-profits in these areas.

Our new Executive Director, Catherine Porter, joins us from a long career helping philanthropies improve their impact, from large national foundations to grantmakers at the local level.  Most recently she’s been working with 55 foundations on a national water agenda, and authored a paper for community foundations on climate change.  A Fellow at Bolinas’s Commonweal, she’s worked there on environmental health issues and still directs a small Ganges River project. She’s deepening her knowledge of West Marin non-profits and looks forward to partnering with community leadership at every opportunity.

Take-Away:  The Fund has moved from planning to doing.  We will be transparent about our work strategies going forward.  With a terrific Board of Directors and a growing local Advisory Board, we feel prepared to play a leadership role in creating and sustaining a resilient & prosperous West Marin.  We welcome your input.

Reach us at info@westmarinfund.org

 

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