The Chester County Community Foundation reaches a major milestone05/20/2019 01:16PM ● By J. Chambless
The Chester County Community Foundation staff includes (back row, left to right) Bryce Cleveland, Jamison Ludgate, Bob Ferguson, Kevin Baffa, Beth Harper Briglia, and Stephenie Stephens; and (front row, left to right) Cierra Eckenrode, Madison Algayer, Beth Krallis, and Karen Simmons.
By Steven Hoffman
The Chester County Community Foundation is celebrating an important milestone in 2019.
“This is our 25th anniversary year,” explained Beth Krallis, the marketing and communications officer for the Chester County Community Foundation.
The foundation’s mission, since it was established in 1994, is to connect people who care with the causes that matter, so their philanthropy makes a difference now and forever. The Chester County Community Foundation actively partners with donors who want to bring about positive change through charitable giving.
One illustration of philanthropy at work is the Frees Family Fund, an intergenerational fund that focuses its grants on “neighbors helping neighbors.” The Frees Family is well-known throughout Chester County for its deep roots, successful community-based businesses, and a commitment to community engagement. The Frees Family Legacy Fund has provided grants to organizations like the Colonial Theatre, the Freedom Valley YMCA, and the Phoenixville Public Library, just to name a few.
The Chester County Community Foundation has served as a vital connection point between the Frees Family Fund and the nonprofit organizations in the community that need financial support to do their important work. The Frees Family Fund is just one such fund that the Chester County Community Foundation works with.
According to Krallis, the Community Foundation is currently entrusted with over 400 charitable funds that represent more than $60 million in total assets. Through the years, it has already awarded about $40 million through more than 9,200 grants and scholarships because ordinary people decided to make extraordinary commitments to the community.
“Most of those funds are awarded in Chester County,” Krallis explained.
She added that the Chester County Community Foundation is fortunate to work with many different and dynamic philanthropists who are committed to making a positive impact at any level. Some are donors with modest means and others have great wealth. The Community Foundation does everything they can to support the philanthropists in their efforts.
The Chester County Community Foundation is one of approximately 650 community foundations in the U.S., and Krallis explained that the organization’s staff provides donors and their families with information about the issues affecting the community—as well as information about the nonprofit organizations that are working on those issues. One way that the organization accomplishes this is through a Smart Giving series that is designed to inform philanthropists about issues impacting the local community. The Chester County Community Foundation also works with a wide range of legal, financial, accounting, and wealth advisers to help their clients reach their financial and charitable goals. This maximizes the charitable giving that a particular fund can accomplish.
The Chester County Community Foundation serves as a partner to the philanthropists, developing a grant-making process for each fund that is flexible and easy for them.
Another facet of the foundation’s work is providing assistance, in a variety of ways, to nonprofit organizations that are working to strengthen the Chester County community. The foundation works hand in hand with the philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations. As part of the 25th anniversary celebration, the Chester County Community Foundation is celebrating 12 area nonprofits as community gems for their vital roles. The foundation is also shining a spotlight on 25 individuals and families who have established philanthropic funds. These 25 “Portraits of Philanthropy” illustrate the wide range of giving that exists.
While the numbers are impressive—25 years, more than 400 charitable funds, 9,200 grants and scholarships, $40 million in funds already awarded, more than $60 million in total assets—they only tell a part of the story.
The real story is detailed in the lives of the men and women and children who have benefitted from the services that the various funds have helped support through the years.
There are over 800 registered nonprofits in Chester County. All need resources, including money and expertise, and the Chester County Community Foundation has stepped in to provide assistance whenever and wherever it can.
“We have a suite of services to help nonprofits in Chester County,” Krallis explained.
The Chester County Community Foundation provides low-cost, customized workshops focused on topics related to attracting endowed and planned gifts.
A Trustee Institute provides board members from nonprofits with the opportunity to strengthen their skills and expand their knowledge on how to become a stronger board member. Topics range from understanding taxes, marketing, planned giving, and more. The next one will take place on Saturday, September 28.
A nonprofit resource expo showcases vendors that provide a range of nonprofit services, including accounting, marketing and communications, to nonprofit staff and board members.
Nonprofits with an endowment fund held in trust by the Chester County Community Foundation can also take advantage of the suite of planned giving services to help grow endowments steadily and surely over time as donors make their estate plans and include charities in the mix.
After 25 years, the Chester County Community Foundation is entrenched in the never-ending effort to help the nonprofits that serve the community.
“As a community members ourselves, we want to meet the needs of the Chester County community,” Krallis explained. “We’re here to solve problems and improve quality of life anyway that we can.”
While the Chester County Community Foundation has enjoyed tremendous successes during its first 25 years, the efforts to improve are always taking place. Needs in the community change, so organizations working to meet those needs must change as well.
The Chester County Community Foundation recently received accreditation by the Community Foundations National Standards Board for philanthropic excellence. This accreditation represents the Chester County Community Foundation’s continuing commitment to upholding federal and state law requirements of accountability to communities, policymakers, and the public. The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations program requires community foundations to document their policies for donor services, investments, grant-making and administration. It establishes legal, ethical, effective practices for community foundations across the U.S. With over 500 community foundations already accredited nationwide, the program is designed to provide quality assurance to donors, as well as to their legal and financial advisors.
“Meeting the National Standards benchmarks is a rigorous, comprehensive process,” said Tony Morris, chair of the Chester County Community Foundation’s Board of Directors, in a statement. “This accreditation is a significant accomplishment which clearly demonstrates the Chester County Community Foundation’s commitment to transparency, quality, integrity and accountability as it carries out its mission.”
Karen Simmons, Chester County Community Foundation president, added, “This accreditation is very important to retaining and strengthening donor relationships. When people come to the Chester County Community Foundation to make a charitable bequest or establish a fund, they are entrusting us with their investment and charitable wishes. The National Standards accreditation reaffirms our commitment to providing a lifetime of support to our donors.”
For more information about the Chester County Community Foundation’s 25th anniversary and upcoming events to celebrate the milestone, visit the organization’s website at www.chescocf.org, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email [email protected].