Increased giving helps foundation ‘reimagine charity’


JASPER — The Dubois County Community Foundation released its 2018 year-end report last week and is showing an increase in contributions, a decrease in grant-making and a slight increase in total assets compared to 2017.

The foundation ended 2018 with $37.2 million in total assets, a $1 million drop from 2017. The drop is due to the stock market. According to a letter from Board President Jen Verkamp and Executive Director Clayton Boyles at the beginning of the report, the foundation’s investments ended the year with a -5.7 percent return.

Contributions at the end of 2018 were at $2.6 million, compared to $1.9 million at the end of 2017, and grant-making ended at just under $1.3 million for the year, below the $2.9 million of 2017 but in line with the $1.3 million in 2016.

Boyles said the spike in grant-making in 2017 was due to the Parklands project in Jasper. The foundation oversaw the donations given for the construction of that project and granted those funds in 2017.

“That’s the big spike in 2017,” Boyles said, adding that he expects to see about $1.3 million in grant-making again in 2019.

The Parklands project is also the reason for the spike in contributions the foundation saw in 2016.

The report also talks about how the foundation has been working with its staff and its community partners to “reimagine charity.” According to the letter at the beginning of the report, the shift in thinking aims to reassess charitable practices to make sure those served are treated with dignity and that the help given leads to sustainable change.

“This meant acknowledging that sometimes our well-intentioned efforts do not produce meaningful results, and in fact, can do more harm than good,” Verkamp and Boyles wrote in their letter.

Going forward, the letter said, the foundation will “lead with the belief that all people have value and dignity and something to offer the community, and leave behind practices that could be toxic to those we serve.”

In December, the foundation hosted a workshop about reimagining charity with Shawn Duncan, director of the Lupton Center at Focused Community Strategies, an Atlanta-based organization that partners with under served neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development. Representatives from many local nonprofits attended the workshop.

Boyles said the shift in thinking won’t change foundation operations in terms of what and how donors contribute or how designated donations are distributed. Rather, the shift will be in how the foundation and its staff approach unmet needs in the community.

“We’re trying to lead some leaders,” Boyles said. “We want to be supportive of the efforts and help them maybe rethink the ways they serve their clients.”

See the full foundation report here.

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