A Year of Expanding Philanthropy, Community Impact

Oct 12, 2018


It’s been nearly a year since I became CEO of the Community Foundation – how time flies! Since the transition, we’ve ushered in exciting new possibilities and made some remarkable impact. As your community’s foundation, we shared those moments with many of you. Here are a few recent highlights that demonstrate our shared commitment to Santa Cruz County – now and in the future:

By the end of 2017, active stewardship of our more than 350 funds grew our assets to $131 million. As you can see from the financial statement included in our recent impact report, a combination of the strong market performance and your generosity led to record asset levels. Our 2017 investment returns on donor funds were more than 13% for our long term pool and more than 15% for our socially responsible pool. 2017 marked another year of clean audits and strong financial reporting. View more on our current investment performance.

Our 2017 investment returns on donor funds were more than 13% for our long term pool and more than 15% for our socially responsible pool. 2017 marked another year of clean audits and strong financial reporting.

This year, we experienced grantmaking growth due to the generosity of the Borina family. The Borina Foundation endowment came to the Community Foundation in 2013. The community eagerly anticipated this new funding, but it took until 2017 for there to be sufficient accumulated earnings to begin grantmaking. With the market’s strong recovery and the maturation of the funds, we are thrilled to have over $500,000 to grant for youth and education and an additional $500,000 to grant in the combined areas of end of life care, historic preservation and seniors. Those issue areas were important to the Borina family. In the coming year we will be telling you more about the impact of their incredible legacy. To be sure, their gift is already very much alive: 51% of our spring 2018 grants were made up of funding from the Borina Foundation endowment. Their dedication to Pajaro Valley and beyond can be seen each day in services for youth, seniors, those at the end of their lives and, also in projects, like the Castro Adobe that preserve the unique history of Santa Cruz County.

In 2018, donor advised grantmaking has soared. Local nonprofits are benefitting from our donors’ generosity in record numbers: By July of this year, donors had already recommended 26% more grants than the year before. Thank you for your forward thinking and active giving!

more grants than the year before
$1.5 million
to Launch Community Investment Revolving Fund

We have launched our new Community Investment Revolving Fund (CIRF) with an initial gift from an anonymous donor of $1.5 million. The concept is simple: this fund will accept lower than market financial returns in exchange for positive social returns for our community. This fund will continually recycle loans into the community as earlier loans are repaid. As we enter the fall, our impact investments and loans from the CIRF total over $2.5 million in new working capital in the community.

We welcomed our first Gender Screened Donor Advised Fund. Launched by a new anonymous donor with a $1 million gift, the Women’s Inclusion Fund is one family’s donor advised fund with a unique values-based investment approach. It is invested in U.S. equities that have been screened for participation by women on boards and in senior management. Earnings will be granted to programs that support girls’ educational attainment locally. The Women’s Inclusion Fund also marks our first donor advised fund managed by an outside investment manager, a new opportunity for funds established with gifts of $1 million or more.

Speaking of girls, we welcomed our first group of girls into our Girls in Pajaro Valley initiative, a project made possible by donors to our Fund for Women and Girls. The group of over 30 6th-graders started at Lakeview Middle School with the support they’ll need to be successful in middle school, high school, college and beyond. A big thanks to our partners who have formed relationships with the students this past school year to support early academic gains. We will keep you posted as we learn what works (and what doesn’t) in this initiative. This is a pilot project meant to build understanding about what is most effective in helping girls be successful.

We support the financial wellness of over 40 local nonprofits by managing their agency funds at the Foundation. We have had an increase of over $640,000 and know that these strategic reserve and campaign funds represent important indicators of resilience for the future of these organizations. Nonprofit fund holders like Jacob’s Heart, Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, and Pajaro Valley Youth Soccer Club love the financial oversight and convenience the Community Foundation provides so that they can stay mission focused.

Local tech startups are turning to us to help them integrate social good into their organizational values early on. Thank you to the two founders of a local company who made the first gifts to our Tech Shares initiative. When the company is sold or goes public, proceeds from the sale of the donated shares will be used to establish a donor advised fund. We are delighted to offer entrepreneurs an innovative way to build philanthropy into the foundation of their enterprises.

2017 saw big changes in tax law. Despite warnings in the press about the negative impact on charitable giving, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 provides even greater benefits for charitable deductions for people who itemize their tax deductions. In 2018, we will help our donors take maximum advantage of the law and keep funds right here in our community through “bundling of donations,” potential in the new Opportunity Zones and providing ongoing communication about the impact to local nonprofits.

It’s hard to select just one moment that captures the wind in our sails for the work ahead of us. But one thing is clear, not one of these moments would happen without the generous people who make Santa Cruz County a great place to call home.

With gratitude,
Susan True, CEO

Read more about the ways the ways our donors and nonprofit partners are making a positive impact on Santa Cruz County.

Written by

Susan True

In her role as Chief Executive Officer of Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Susan continues her lifelong commitment to work that improves lives and strengthens communities. Contact her at 831.662.2010 or strue@cfscc.org.