Nonprofit Spotlight: Wake County Community Foundation

Donations benefit local groups, address area needs

January is the perfect time to set new spending priorities. If you got a raise, will you sock it away or spend it on an extravagant vacation?

You might also consider donating to the Wake County Community Foundation, a group of philanthropic funds that is a source for local grants and scholarships. Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll also inspire others to do so as well.

“Giving is joyful,” said Katie Weeks, president of the foundation and senior adviser for nonprofit consulting firm, Armstrong McGuire. “Giving is something we feel good about – you should feel good about.”

As someone who rallies every day for those in need, Weeks asks: In our community, how do we create a giving culture that supports our fellow citizens?

“Your engagement with our nonprofit community, whether it’s through your time, your specific talents that you have or through your dollars, all of those things lift our community up in such a positive way,” she said.

Scholarships & Grants

Scholarship applications for the 2020-2021 academic year are being accepted now. Wake County residents can find information about scholarships on the North Carolina Community Foundation information page.

The 2020 grant application period for the Wake County Community Foundation will be open from Friday, April 3, 2020 to noon on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. Grants typically range from $500 to $1,000. Only organizations with annual budgets under $500,000 are eligible to apply.

Weeks leads a board of 12 directors at the foundation, which was established in 1991. The volunteer board discusses community needs and decides who will receive the annual grants. Two hot topics include population growth and education disparities in Wake County.

Through 131 funds held by individuals and organizations, the foundation donated $2.6 million in 2018, and the goal is to increase the amount each year. Beneficiaries include You Call This Yoga, which provides free yoga classes for veterans and the elderly; the Hope Center at Pullen, which provides support for individuals aging out of the foster care system; and Ship Outreach and Community Center, which provides groceries for those who don’t have access to food.

“It’s all about creating long-term and sustainable funding for our community,” Weeks said.

The Wake County Community Foundation encourages giving at all financial levels. Contributions can be made to an existing fund at any time, or an endowment can be set up for a favorite cause. Organizations can launch a fund with $25,000 and individuals can establish a scholarship for $40,000. The foundation manages these endowments, and the fund owners decide who gets the annual proceeds.

The public can also donate to the Wake County Community Fund, an unrestricted community grantmaking fund. The proceeds from this fund enhance community life through annual grants to local nonprofits. In 2018, this fund provided $12,000 for local organizations.

As an avid giver herself, Weeks notes the need for immediate and long-term giving.

“You should do some philanthropy that’s in the here and the now, the active make-these-dollars-happen,” Weeks said. “But there’s also something to be said for that long-term, sustainable funding that you’re creating over time.”

Want to get involved? There are also community foundations in Cary and Morrisville, both branches of the Wake County Community Foundation, where you can donate and help those in need.

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