In the true spirit of giving, mystery donor pledges $25,000

November 25, 2015
Trustees Nancy Sterk, Jean Russell and Executive Director Tammy Carey (center) at the Michigan Community Leadership Network Institute in East Lansing.

Trustees Nancy Sterk, Jean Russell and Executive Director Tammy Carey (center) at the Michigan Community Leadership Network Institute in East Lansing.

SHELBY — An Oceana County resident who wishes to remain anonymous has pledged as much as $25,000 to match contributions received by the Community Foundation for Oceana County (CFOC) before Jan. 1 that are earmarked to either CFOC’s Administrative Fund or Community Investment Fund, or both.  

“This is a marvelous demonstration of one’s generosity to others,” said CFOC Board Chair Nancy Sterk of Hart, “and it comes just as the nation observes ‘Giving Tuesday’ on Dec. 1, when people are encouraged to give back to their communities. The challenge grant complements our national day of giving thanks, and the two heavy shopping days that follow.”    

These two important, but low profile funds, are among the CFOC’s current portfolio of 120 named funds, most of which are formed by individuals, families and organizations. But these two funds – created by the foundation for special purposes — account for less than 2 percent of CFOC’s overall assets in 2014. And, in 2014 while giving to all foundation funds was a remarkable $1.3 million, only $12,000 was given towards these two important funds.

Community leadership

“If we’re able to grow our administrative fund, our foundation can better provide the leadership to pursue opportunities and address current community challenges,” said CFOC Executive Director Tammy Carey. “And we’ll be prepared to respond to future needs we can’t even envision now.”

Community impact is important to the foundation and to donors helping to support its leadership role in Oceana. We are proud to report that the foundation was invited to join the first-ever Michigan Community Leadership Network along with eight other community foundations of varying size and serving both urban and rural areas (Barry, Battle Creek, Fremont, Flint, Jackson, Midland, Mount Pleasant and Saginaw).

Oceana is the smallest at just under $10 million in assets – to $229 million in Fremont.

Three trustees — Sterk, Jean Russell and Joan LundBorg — and Carey committed to a nine-month learning journey, led by national consultant advisors. “What we learned at our first meeting is that no matter our foundation or community size, we are all striving to learn how to best pursue the things that matter the most, despite how challenging or difficult,” said Russell. “This work requires us to be bold and persistent and most importantly to be engaged with community members, as the saying goes – “do nothing about me without me,” added LundBorg.

Acting in partnership with other community members, the foundation is well suited to assemble and leverage resources and the staying power to reach long-term results. Examples include the Oceana CAN! (College Access Network), for which the foundation led the three-year planning effort to increase post-secondary education attainment rates. CFOC is now the fiscal agent for the network, which compliments its robust scholarship program.

The foundation also has led a year-long effort in Oceana to establish an Employer Resource Network (ERN) that seeks to retain an engaged and skilled workforce by bringing together small to mid-size employers to link and leverage talent development resources most effectively.

CFOC is partnered with various nonprofit organizations and groups that seek assistance with the administration and organization of their capital campaigns. They include the Getty Park Renovation Fund, Hart-Montague Rail Trail Reconstruction Campaign, Oceana County Council on Aging Expansion Fund, Oceana County Medical Care Facility Campaign Fund, Protect Pentwater Harbor Campaign, Pentwater Trail Campaign and Pentwater Historical Society Museum.  

Community investment

“We also hope to have a stronger Community Investment Fund,” added Carey. “It’s our most flexible fund of the foundation, which is unrestricted and was created by dozens of generous individuals and businesses throughout the community over the years. From it, we channel financial help to critical, unmet needs that suddenly arise in our community. Our foundation is a hub of local expertise and knowledge about where assistance is most needed,” she continued. “We see gaps all the time, but too often don’t have enough money in this fund to respond as fully as we’d like.” Requests from nonprofit organizations for funds from the Community Investment Fund are vetted by a committee of the CFOC board of directors, and approved by the entire board.  

Recent grants include support for the Oceana Employer Resource Network, recreational equipment for The Ladder Community Center in Shelby, replacing the failed transmitting antenna and tower at Blue Lake Public Radio and the Live, Laugh, Love mental health awareness/suicide prevention program at Pentwater Public Schools.

Anyone wishing to contribute by personal check can make it payable to Community Foundation for Oceana County, and mail it to P.O. Box 367, Shelby, 49455. Indicate on the check that you’d like your contribution to go to the “Administrative” or “Community Investment” fund, or both.

To charge your gift to your personal credit card, go online to oceana-foundation.org and click on “Give” and then “List of Funds.” Look for either “Administrative Fund” or “Community Investment Fund” on the first page of the list. Click on “Donate,” after which you will be prompted to complete your online contribution.  

For more information about making gifts or creating a named fund of your own, check out the web site, follow the foundation on Facebook/oceanafoundation, or call Carey at 231.861.8335. As she always says, “Let’s start a conversation!”

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