Organizations: Communities Of Coastal Georgia Foundation
“For Good, Forever.”
That, says Lee Owen, executive director of the Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation (CCGF), is a sort of unofficial tagline many organizations such as hers use to get the point across about what they do.
“We are a public charity that seeks to create funds to be used in a specific geographic area,” she says. In this case, the area is McIntosh, Glynn and Camden counties; the funds entrusted to the Brunswick-based foundation by local donors go to support such causes as education, literacy and nonprofit management.
Potential donors make a minimum gift to the foundation anytime ($10,000 for non-endowed funds, $25,000 to $50,000 for endowed funds), or they can set up a bequest in their will. CCGF invests all the gifts; each year investment returns are added to the principal and a percentage of the fund is set aside for additional annual grants.
Foundation staff (Owen and Diane Doster, donor services/grants officer) thoroughly vet all grant applicants – as well as any organization a donor specifies for a bequest. The organization’s three main focus areas are education, literacy and capacity building for local nonprofits; recipients include the Ferst Foundation for Early Childhood Literacy, McIntosh SEED and the Golden Isles Arts & Humanities Association.
“Community foundations act like a gatekeeper and like a matchmaker and like a convenor,” Owen says. “The gatekeeper is vetting the nonprofits and making sure we do our due diligence and they are the best and brightest they can be. The matchmaker would be linking them up with donors or potential donors who have an interest and also linking them up with each other. The convenor is bringing together various groups around a central issue.”
The organization is relatively new, having received its official nonprofit status in 2006. It was formed by a group of local leaders who realized the area’s growing number of well-heeled second homeowners represented potential philanthropists who might require guidance on how to best invest their money.
“People who hold funds here can make a grant anywhere in the Unites States,” Owen says. “They can make a grant to their alma mater; if they spend part of the year in another location and this is their second home, they can make a donation to a charity in their hometown.”