What started as an effort to expand the unrestricted giving by the foundation beyond the groups with the wherewithal to write grant proposals, has become an annual support program working with over 105 community non-profit groups.
We on the Front Porch feel that this program is both good and bad for the community.
On the good side, the Run for the Money program affords everyone the same opportunity to get their story told. The CF Gaston partnership with the Gazette allows for the publication of several “tabs” that list participating agencies and their missions.
Another good point is that the Community Foundation is more accessible to these smaller groups. For years, the CF board was dominated by a certain “good ol boy” network that parceled out funds to favorites and darlings. Paired alongside the United Way, roughly $2-3 million went to roughly 20-25 organizations each year. In our opinion this is a much fairer process.
The best part of the program is the “matching process”.
The matching process is limited to the “first $10,000 raised”. This means that organizations will receive a match of an established percentage up to their first $10,000. Over the years this match by the community foundation has hovered between 60 and 70 percent. If your organization raised 3,000 dollars for the CF, you would receive $4,950 (at a 65% match rate). Pretty good change for small groups. Everything over $10,000 was not matched, but the participating organization gets to keep all those funds dollar-for-dollar.
The larger, more organized, and creative organizations routinely have received a CF check in the May wrap-up event from about $28,000 to $40,000. A very good annual support program.
Some of the difficult issues with the Run for the Money are the number of special events and “competitions” that have branched out from the actual 5K Run and Displays on the day of the event. Of course, there are incentives to participate, winners routinely receiving additional funds from $100 to $1000 for placing in the top three or five of whatever event. Organizations that are strictly volunteer-led and staffed become burdened with keeping up with the groups that have paid-professional staff leadership.
As with all “competitions”, people have figured out ways to get a jump ahead of the others for recognition and support. A small number of organizations begin soliciting their supporters ahead of the established dates. The Foundation has not figured out a way to monitor these practices.
One of the major “no-nos” in this program is the routing of “already designated” funds and restricted giving programs to the matching numbers. Several church groups, and organizations with endowments are exploiting the loophole of oversight with the blessing of some of the board members — shades of the “good ol boys”. Hopefully, closing that loophole would allow a greater matching percentage to be offered by the Community Foundation.
The last bad effect of the CF program is the damage to the United Way and United Arts annual support campaigns. Most knowledgeable people will demur from the subject, but the numbers , particularly in Pacesetter Campaigns, have to be impacted in some way.
Overall, all of us sittin’ here on the Belmont Front Porch support the Run for the Money event. We encourage you to support your favorite group of organizations with a contribution to the Community Foundation of Gaston County.