GOSHEN — After 25 years and millions of dollars in philanthropic giving, the Elkhart County Community Foundation is preparing to embark on its largest and most far-reaching grant campaign to date — and it needs the community’s help to make it happen.
Now entering its 25th anniversary year, the ECCF has been on quite a journey the past two years, due in no small part to a $150 million gift from the estate of Guy David Gundlach, a former Elkhartan and member of the foundation’s Legacy Society. Gundlach died unexpectedly in 2011 at the age of 56.
Since receiving the gift from Gundlach’s estate, the ECCF has been undergoing a comprehensive information-gathering campaign, coined the Community Listening Tour, seeking suggestions from the community on how best to utilize those funds moving forward into 2014 and beyond.
As part of that quest, the ECCF will be hosting two events open to the community to outline the path the organization will take beginning in 2014 as a result of the Gundlach gift. Dates, times and locations for the two events are as follows:
• Nov. 5 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Matterhorn Conference Center, Elkhart
• Nov. 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Rieth Recital Hall, Goshen College, Goshen
Both events will be free and open to the public, however reservations are being requested by RSVPing to the ECCF’s website, elkhartccf.org, or by calling 574-295-8761.
Established in 1989, the ECCF has awarded $44.9 million in grants to Elkhart County not-for-profit organizations since its inception. Historically, it has granted between $500,000 to $600,000 annually.
However, due to the recent growth in ECCF assets, including the gifts from Gundlach and others, ECCF is expected to grant approximately $4.5 million in 2014 and up to $7.5 to $8 million in the following year.
“During this past fiscal year the ECCF received $143.5 million in contributions and $11.2 million in gains realized through our investing activities,” said ECCF President Pete McCown during the organization’s annual meeting and luncheon last week. “Our assets grew from approximately $46 million in 2012 to $197.4 million in 2013. However, the foundation’s mission work is not about asset accumulation. Our mission is to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity.”
Consequently, the ECCF has spent the past year listening to people throughout the county.
According to McCown, the ECCF board recently adopted six “Guiding Values” that will help inform the organization’s conduct in the coming years. A breakdown of those six guidelines is as follows:
• The ECCF will maintain an openness to all community ideas and requests from non-for-profit organizations serving the citizens of Elkhart County. However, based on the findings of the Community Listening Tour, the foundation will also focus and prioritize resources around transformative grant making in the areas of youth development and quality of place.
• The ECCF will preserve community volunteers as the leaders and decision makers in the grant process.
• The ECCF will play an active role of support to the Elkhart County-based not-for-profit organizations. Resources will be dedicated to coaching, peer learning and professional development opportunities for those working in these organizations.
• The ECCF will play a quiet but influential role within the community. The board wants community ideas to develop at the grassroots level, which will allow ECCF to “lead from behind” by partnering with community members passionate about a particular cause.
• The ECCF and its not-for-profit partners will work together to become learning organizations. The board will use data and evidence to guide activity and decision making in a collaborative way.
• The ECCF wants to encourage generosity and volunteerism in local communities. Opportunities and programs that inspire acts of volunteerism and generosity across the community will be highly valued.
As a public, tax-exempt, philanthropic organization, the ECCF solicits and develops endowment funds and distributes income from them through quarterly grants to not-for-profit organizations throughout the county.
For more information on the foundation, its assets or grants awarded in fiscal year 2012-2013, visit www.elkhartccf.org to view its annual report.