building equity is our business
July 7, 2020
When the COVID-19 pandemic began creating immediate needs in the Evanston Community, ECF launched the Evanston Community Rapid Response Fund (ECRRF) to continue supporting local nonprofits. Together with your generous donations, we raised over $2 million to ensure those who needed help were able to receive support.
Thank you for helping us meet the $1 Million Match Challenge set forth by ECF Ambassadors and Evanston residents, Mary and Paul Finnegan. We could not have possibly supported the nonprofit community during this pandemic without the generous support of our donors. During this time in history, the Foundation welcomed over 250 new people to our donor community. In less than two months, we raised $2.4 million together. In this short amount of time we have been able to grant $1.7 million back into the community. Still, our work is not done. We will grant every dollar back into the community to address needs and repair systems.
To that end, I would like to take a moment to highlight an important asset for the community. We’ve been able to lean on a modest endowment which carries power for community foundations. It defines our sustainability. To date, we steward over $28 million in our endowment. These are pooled funds that the community entrusts us with. This makes a difference in how we’re able to invest in what Evanston needs most. We are looking ahead to the day when we can steward an unrestricted $40 million endowment, which would allow nimbler grantmaking upwards of $2 million annually, in order to better strengthen and support the nonprofit sector. A stronger endowment allows us to continue to meet our current obligations while shoring up resources for future needs of the community. This is why the endowment becomes, in a sense, the security blanket for a community. When our community members are hurting, it becomes our job to shift, respond immediately, and help for the long-term. Because of the endowment, we were able to do that without draining the resources to continue delivering the high quality day-to-day operations of the foundation.
Community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community challenges. According to the Council on Foundations’ report in 2017, community foundations gave an estimated $5.48 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in fields that included the arts and education, health and human services, the environment, and disaster relief. While dollars from government resources are not a sure thing, it becomes the responsibility of a community foundation to collaborate with the nonprofit sector, and residents to care for and empower our most vulnerable neighbors. Building equity into every system (health care, education, housing, employment, etc.) is the business of the Evanston Community Foundation. I invite you now to take a moment and see how our donors and grantee partners are building equity in their work, our work.