Sustaining funds and giving for the community

September 10, 2021

By Erin Belby

Finance Director Erin Belby

A message about sustaining funds from LCF’s finance director

In 2020, the community foundation stepped up in many visible ways to address the unique challenges that the year presented: collaborating with Great Rivers United Way to start the La Crosse Area Emergency Response Fund, working with a generous donor to start the Black Empowerment Fund, and shifting our competitive grant process towards unrestricted funding through emergency survival grants to nonprofits.

Behind the scenes, we were also working hard to address pandemic-related challenges.

Making sure funds are making the biggest impact possible

We took steps to make sure grant funds are available when they are needed most. We researched and re-evaluated our unrestricted assets to determine additional funding possibilities. We created an unrestricted surplus policy to provide guidance on minimum and maximum reserve targets. We identified a financial threshold that would in the future trigger the discussion of when/if additional funds can be available for grantmaking.

Stabilizing fund availability during rocky market periods

We took steps to make sure grant funds are available forever. We incorporated a rolling average balance calculation into our spend rate policy to stabilize future grant dollars through periods of turbulent market performance. And we continuously assess our investment policy statement to ensure our portfolio is in the best position possible for our perpetual funds.

Addressing equity in investments

We started looking at ways to “put our money where our mouth is” by evaluating what our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion means for our financial and investment policies.  We hope to share more about this work in 2021.

Looking back on a year we would all soon like to forget, my hope is that it will be remembered not only for the challenges it presented, but the ways in which we, as a community, stepped up to meet them.