A Letter to our Nonprofit Community

May 5, 2009 (Syracuse, NY) – We are pleased to provide you with the latest news regarding grantmaking changes at the Central New York Community Foundation. Since last summer, we have assessed how we make grants and how we can be most responsive to the needs of the nonprofit community. This process has resulted in some significant changes.

1. Grants Budget. In a time of economic uncertainty, we are committed to maintaining the same grants budget for this year as we have had in previous years.  This represents more than $2 million in support through our Community Grants process and various initiatives. While the investment return on our portfolio was down by 27% in 2008, the combination of a prudent endowment spending formula and the additional of several new funds through bequests we received means that we will be to be able to offer the same level of grant support through our discretionary funds. We anticipate that additional grants that we make through our Donor Advised and Designated funds will also remain roughly the same.

2. Strategic Partnerships. Effective nonprofit organizations are vital to the health and vitality of any community. Since the economic crisis creates challenges to the wellbeing of the whole nonprofit sector, we find that leaders are wrestling to address changes in community need while also balancing already tight budgets. Such challenges also prompt opportunities for dramatic new levels of collaboration to ensure the future sustainability of vital community services. I am pleased to announce that we have started a new initiative called the Strategic Partnership Fund whichwill support those organizations seeking to create new synergies in and between nonprofits that will enable them to enhance program delivery and achieve more effective and efficient use of limited resources.

Our hope is that the financial support offered through this initiative will enable collaborative partnerships to prosper. Grants from this effort will support organizations engaging in the following types of activities: administrative consolidation; joint programming; joint ventures; regionalization; formation of subsidiary or parent-subsidiary; reengineering or restructuring; mergers and consolidations; and nonprofit dissolutions. To learn more about application guidelines and how to apply, please contact John Eberle, Vice President for Grants and Community Initiatives, at 422-9538, ext. 214.

3. Capital Projects. We enhanced our grantmaking guidelines by adding new criteria for awarding grants to capital projects and campaigns. These new guidelines include policies for amounts awarded, timing of submission and building ownership. Based on the size of the capital project, there will be additional questions and requirements that applicants will be required to address. The new criteria have been incorporated into our existing Community Grant application form. To review the new application guidelines and form, please visit our website at www.cnycf.org.

4. Grant Cycle. As a way to facilitate planning for nonprofits as well as ourselves, we have set our application deadlines for our next two fiscal years. We expect to have six grantmaking cycles in this timeframe. Two of these cycles are dedicated to our Program for Arts Capacity and Excellence (PACE). We are now in the second year of a three-year commitment to the agencies participating in this program. All others should plan to submit through the Community Grants cycles. The dates are as follows:

                Community Grants deadlines:                         PACE deadlines:
April 3, 2009 (now in process)                              July 31, 2009
September 25, 2009                                               July 30, 2010
April 10, 2010
September 24, 2010
The changes outlined above are the first of a range of possibilities we are considering for enhancing our grantmaking. We expect to continue conversations around our desired impact and the strategies we can employ to accomplish our goals while best supporting nonprofits working to make positive change. We will keep you apprised as noteworthy changes occur.

5.  CNY Philanthropy Center. Finally, you might be aware that we recently purchased a building in downtown Syracuse, not only to be our future home but also to be space for other foundations and nonprofits. We are excited about the potential of the building to expand philanthropy, promote collaboration and energize other investments in downtown. We hope that our new physical presence will enhance the multiple levels of relationships that we have with our partners from all sectors of the community. We expect to move into the building in Fall 2010 – check www.cnyphilanthropycenter.org for details and updates.
We look forward to continuing to work with you towards our shared mission of improving the quality of life for those who work and live in Central New York. Please feel free to contact our Grants and Community Initiatives staff at any time should you have questions regarding these and other changes in the months to come.

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