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Philanthropy 831 Blog about the people and organizations invested in the future of Santa Cruz County.


Learning About our Field, From the Field
By Alexa Klingler / October 5, 2018

​Philanthropic Services Associate Alexa Klingler (top row, second from left) and Grants Officer Nallely Martinez (in front, in yellow) with colleagues from the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. 

Recently my colleague Nallely Martinez and I got the opportunity to travel to the Community Foundation of Western Nevada (CFWN) in Reno. We spent two purpose-driven days exchanging information with our peers, exploring new ways to improve our grants management systems and donor services. Along the way we got to make new connections and enjoy the community of Reno - especially the thriving arts scene!

PROSPECTING FOR PROCESS IMPROVEMENTS

Our visit was a chance to compare notes with a foundation in which we shared a database, a similar asset size and a similar number of donor advised funds. The goal was to find benefits for the donors and nonprofit partners that our grantmaking connects. We joined up with our counterparts and dove into comparing internal procedures, process flows, and the little tips and tricks that help our grants administration run smoothly.

We shared our playbook for adopting an electronic grant payment system. Our effort on that in 2018 has helped hundreds of nonprofit partners receive and deploy their grant funds days or even weeks faster than in the past. Our Reno friends also cribbed notes on our automated document management filing maneuvers that save us hours every week. We strategized together on how best to handle scholarship application review and processing.

Bright Spots from Washoe County

Aside from back office details, our hosts spoke with pride about how they approach their mission work. They prioritize educating their community on estate planning, with a free in-depth workshop series. Their corporate philanthropy program is building a coalition of local companies focused on impact for the community and engagement with their workforce. We learned about their fruitful initiatives supporting youth and caregivers, and their work to protect people from financial abuse.

Arts Enrich, Lead to Opportunity

We were lucky enough to be visiting Reno during Art-town, a month-long celebration of Reno’s creative side, with including 500 different art events! We got to explore the nonprofit Reno Art Works, a lively workspace and gallery for artists, and sponsor of youth art programs such as the Nevada Youth Empowerment Program. With an advisory member of Reno Arts & Culture Commission, we discussed ways nonprofits ensure that the arts flourish in all areas of a community. It was a great reminder of the richness that projects like Open Studios contribute to own community each October. 

As our trip came to a close, our brains were tired but our hearts were full - full of love for what we do to better the communities we live in. Nallely and I had a fulfilling visit: we expanded our knowledge of community foundation best practices, made professional connections we can draw on in the future, and renewed our passion for the awesome work we’re privileged to get to do every day!

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