All eyes are on the New Hanover Community Endowment, created by the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to “improve the health, education, safety, and economic opportunity of every person in our community.”
With $1.25 billion, the Endowment has the financial means to transform our community through strategic grantmaking.
A good question has been raised: Are local nonprofits ready for all that money? *
I’ll provide my answer in two parts.
Are individual organizations ready to effectively administer Endowment funds?
Probably not. And I’m proud to say so. Because we are lean. Nothing is wasted.
We don’t have extra accounting people sitting around waiting for money to count, carry more insurance than we need, or have a parking lot full of vehicles that aren’t used. We keep infrastructure to a minimum.
To administer significantly more money efficiently and effectively, we need to build up our infrastructure. I speak from experience.
After Hurricane Florence, WARM received a flood of applications for home repair and, fortunately, a windfall of disaster recovery donations and grants from all over the country. We were as ready as we could be. We had grown by an average of 14% for over a decade. We had outstanding expertise on our staff and a strong volunteer base.
But we didn’t have the capacity to administer all those disaster funds quickly. We had to build it... Quickly!
Within a few months, we hired four more construction professionals, a homeowner services coordinator, and an accounting assistant. Then, we equipped them with tools, trailers, trucks, training, and computers. We rented a second office building, set up more advanced reporting and analysis systems, and helped establish disaster coalitions throughout our service area.
By building its capacity in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Florence, WARM made the most of every penny from donations from individuals, churches, and corporations all over the country, government contracts, foundation grants, local restaurant share nights, a concert hosted by the City of Wilmington, and… our favorite, a lemonade stand run by children in the Devon Park neighborhood.
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