Essex County is a region of extremes. Located within its 501 square miles are some of the state's poorest cities, as well as some of its wealthiest. It is an area of great need, but also of great opportunity.
Essex County Community Foundation was founded in 1999 to bring these two extremes into balance, to connect able donors who wanted to improve their communities with the hundreds of local nonprofits in need of financial support to make those improvements.
Today, ECCF manages 150 charitable funds and more than $28 million in assets. But we are poised to do so much more for Essex County. We've had great success in assisting local nonprofits build their operational expertise through our Center for Nonprofit Excellence. And year after year, we are recognized as a key component in strengthening these vital organizations. But as we look into the future, and the needs of this place we call home, we recognize that a new, more clearly defined vision is necessary to accomplish our goals. By 2020, our plan is to transform ECCF into a $100 million foundation and position it as a premier donor services organization that gives more grants to local nonprofits. We will focus on asset development, and redefine and be more strategic in our community leadership. To succeed will take a multi-faceted plan that includes an emphasis on endowments and a more robust planned-giving program; increasing donor services such as philanthropic advising and donor education; involving the next generation of donors; and becoming the philanthropic leader and voice in Essex County.
To do this, we must begin to more fully understand Essex County's critical needs and concerns. What is the quality of life here? Do residents have access to schools and other services? Are people healthy? Are they being fed and kept safe? Answering these questions and others like them, will help enable organizations that allocate resources to more effectively address these concerns. Working with local nonprofits and other human service and civic organizations, ECCF will spearhead a Community Needs Assessment that will empower us all to better serve the people of Essex County.
But what does all this mean to you?
Well Essex County Community Foundation is only part of the equation. Our real strength lies in the connections we make, not only with the organizations who are in critical need, but perhaps even more importantly, with the people that can meet those needs. It is our goal - and, as a community foundation, our duty - to ensure that the people of Essex County who have the means to help, whether through financial support or by serving on the board of a local nonprofit, are able to make informed decisions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on all those involved.
Through this column, we hope to educate our readers on issues relating to nonprofit management, governance, options for making financial contributions and the myriad of issues facing nonprofits today. We hope to inspire you to do more for Essex County and inform you on how best to contribute to your chosen nonprofit organization's long-term success. We want to help ensure that you are making the most effective use of your time and your financial resouces.
Finally, we at Essex County Community Foundation enourage you to reach out to us with your questions and ideas, and we urge you to use our knowledge and resources to assist you in your personal philanthropic goals and your nonprofit organization's objectives.
A community foundation is more than just a collection of funds. It is also an alliance of people who care about a place. Essex County Community Foundation is here to serve the needs of Essex County, and we hope that you will join us.