Nonprofit spotlight: The Community Foundation of WNC spreads assistance across the region

What does The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina do?
Established in 1978, The Community Foundation is a nonprofit that provides a permanent pool of charitable capital for the 18 counties of WNC. It works with individuals, families and corporations to create and manage charitable funds and make grants to nonprofits or public agencies in the region.

Has the organization seen a significant change in revenue in recent years?
Like all nonprofits, we were affected by the recession. We cut expenses and streamlined our operations. In 2009, we committed to raising $1 million for a Recession Response Fund to be granted out immediately to human-services nonprofits.  The fund was seeded with $250,000 from the Foundation’s permanent endowments, with the goal of providing immediate assistance to WNC families.

Last fiscal year, we facilitated more than $11 million in philanthropy. The level of gifts we receive and the amount that we grant out are very close to pre-recession levels. Two years after the Janirve Foundation entrusted $10 million to CFWNC, the People In Need grant program is deploying significant resources to nonprofits supporting our region’s most vulnerable populations. Our November grant cycle distributed nearly $900,000 to nonprofits in 18 WNC counties.

Have you seen fewer private donations?
The Foundation works with donors and other entities to create charitable funds. Some of that giving is motivated by economic circumstances, but many of our largest gifts each year are made when we receive a bequest from someone who has passed away or when a nonprofit organization chooses CFWNC to manage and steward the long-term charitable resources of the organization. While our fiscal year does not end until June 30, the Foundation is on track to meet our fundraising goals.

And finally, how has Community Foundation dealt with the changes, and what is the outlook for your organization?
The Community Foundation is a permanent philanthropic resource for Western North Carolina, so we have a long horizon. In 2011, we adopted a strategic plan that streamlined our operations and emphasized sustainability and efficiency. Community foundations focus on the long-term goal of securing discretionary resources to meet changing community needs, usually by holding endowments. We are here to inspire philanthropy and mobilize resources to enrich lives and communities in WNC. — Lindsay Hearn, communications director

— Jordan Foltz can be reached at

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