Geographic Affiliate Funds share knowledge with one another

The North Lee Community Foundation is located in southeast Iowa in Ft. Madison, almost 100 miles from the Quad Cities Community Foundation and oftentimes even farther from fellow affiliates. “We kind of feel alone sometimes,” said Dennis Osipowicz. “But we all have the same challenges and it’s good to get together and share ideas.”

That’s exactly what happened last month as representatives from several of the Community Foundation Geographic Affiliate Funds met in the Quad Cities at the Community Foundation offices for a Geographic Affiliate Funds Summit. “I was very happy,” said Osipowicz, of the gathering. “It was a good exchange of ideas and philosophies.

The meeting was small and intimate and attended by the Community Foundation staff, who listened and answered questions about some of the changes that have occurred in policy during the last year. “We have had a lot of changes and so we had questions and were able to pick up ideas from the other affiliates in the room,” Osipowicz added.

Mike Risko of Mt. Carroll Community Foundation attended the meeting and said he was energized by the discussion. “I came away with a very positive feeling,” he said.

One of the best aspects of the meeting was hearing specific issues and solutions from the other affiliates. One attendee, for example, shared the layout and design of some of the successful brochures they were using. “We had a good chance to talk and we were able to get the sample brochures,” he said.

Osipowicz, who attended with another member from his affiliate, plans to share the things they learned with their own advisory board members in the New Year. “We have some exciting ideas and we now have some answers on things our board would like to know,” he said.

The North Lee Community Foundation (NLCF) has been affiliated for a decade and Osipowicz would like to see NLCF continue to grow. “The prior boards have done an excellent job building endowed assets in our area and I hope we continue that,” he said. “I also want to push more toward unrestricted community grants.”

Risko also has a vision for Mt. Carroll. The Geographic Affiliate Fund is currently pursuing a $10,000 challenge match to keep the Main Street Art Guild open. The community has been generous, he said, but they have a remaining $2,800 to collect by the end of the year. It is a labor of love. He moved to the area 15 years ago. “I fell in love with the community,” he said.

He has helped start a handful of endowments and hopes there is growth in the future. “What’s most impressive is that more than half of the funds coming in are from people who don’t live here anymore and have a sentimental attachment to their hometown,” he said. “They have a place to give and that makes me feel good.”

Learn more about the work of our Geographic Affiliate Funds here.