Letter to the Community

Cathy Bessant; Board Chair, 2010-2011
Michael Marsicano, Ph.D.; President & CEO


2010-2010 Board Chair Catherine P. Bessant and President and CEO Michael Marsicano.

We are pleased to share with you this report on the activities and performance of your community foundation. Certainly 2009 and the first half of 2010 have continued to present economic and other challenges for our community in many ways, and Foundation For The Carolinas is not immune. In response to these challenges, the Board and staff of the Foundation have continued to manage our resources and investments so as to enable our organization to thrive and to provide leadership and support for key initiatives throughout our community.

As a result, the Foundation’s financial performance during this difficult time has been strong. You can find more detail on grants and financial data in the pages listed to the left, as well as a few highlights of which we’re particularly proud to the right of this page. These numbers are fairly remarkable compared to those of many of our peer community foundations, and we are continually grateful for the generosity and commitment of this community to the mission and values of the Foundation.

In another accomplishment of note, our Center for Civic Leadership had its most active year to date, launching several significant efforts to serve our community in various ways. The Critical Need Response Fund, the Workplace Giving Task Force, and the Community Catalyst Fund represent major investments of time and dollars by members of the community in work that was supported – in large part without any added administrative cost – by Foundation staff. You may read more about these initiatives within this online report. We thank our 170 annual contributors to the Center for Civic Leadership for helping to make all this happen through their commitment and financial support, and we invite you to consider joining them.

Our affiliated community foundations that serve the counties surrounding Charlotte made significant strides forward as well. Foundation staff worked with board members in nine of the 13 counties over the last 18 months to complete strategic plans that will guide their work for years to come. Strategic plans are now in place for the Cherokee, Cleveland, Iredell, Lancaster, Lexington Area, Lincoln, Salisbury, Stanly and York community foundations.

Of course none of these achievements would be possible without the Foundation’s team of dedicated professionals. Our staff had a busy year, thanks in part to the level of our donor engagement and grantmaking, and also as a result of the limited staff cuts made in early 2009. We are extremely proud of the team’s ability to continue to render excellent expertise, service and commitment to our full range of family, nonprofit and corporate clients, as well as the community at large.

In March we hosted our annual meeting, with a record-setting crowd of more than 1,500 community members in attendance. Our guest speaker, children’s activist Geoffrey Canada, galvanized the crowd and focused the community’s attention on issues of equity in education, as well as the meeting theme, “Courage and Commitment.”

We are also hard at work preparing for our summer 2011 move to new and expanded quarters on North Tryon Street. We have some exciting plans for our new space, and we look forward to sharing more in coming months.

This year’s annual report is designed to illustrate the many ways in which your community foundation touches the people of this region – through our centers for philanthropy, through our center for civic leadership, and of course through the extraordinary generosity and commitment of our donors and fundholders. That’s why we’ve chosen to feature photos of Foundation staff, as well as community members with whom we work, as part of our design. From small towns to urban centers, from children’s programming to corporate giving, we remain committed to fulfilling our mission: inspiring philanthropy, investing in community.


Financial Performance Highlights

  The long-term growth fund in which the majority of our assets are held achieved a 25.1% return in 2009, beating its benchmark by 400 basis points.

  With challenging markets in 2008, our total assets owned or represented slipped to $645 million. By the end of 2009, however, that number had risen to $754 million.

  Our 2009 total for contributions received into funds at the Foundation was $101 million, a 29% increase over 2008.

  $90 million was distributed back into the community in the form of grants to worthy nonprofits delivering important services.

  86 new funds joined us in 2009, a critical measure of our foundation’s health.