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NCW nonprofits: The big business of doing good

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Linda Rosenthal and Richard Dowling greet the crowd before playing during the Piatigorsky Foundation Concert at the WVC Music and Art Center.



Section 501(c) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code lists 28 types of nonprofit organizations exempt from federal income tax. Here are some of them:

501(c)(3): Religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering amateur sports competition, prevention to cruelty to children or animals.

501(c)(4): Civic leagues, social welfare organizations, local associations of employees

501(c)(5): Labor, agricultural, horticultural organizations

501(c)(6): Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, etc.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

Buy this photo
Buy this photo

Section 501(c) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code lists 28 types of nonprofit organizations exempt from federal income tax. Here are some of them:

501(c)(3): Religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering amateur sports competition, prevention to cruelty to children or animals.

501(c)(4): Civic leagues, social welfare organizations, local associations of employees

501(c)(5): Labor, agricultural, horticultural organizations

501(c)(6): Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, etc.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

Not-for-profit groups around the Wenatchee Valley have proven how baby steps and a laser focus on doing good amounts to big business in a community with a reputation for helping its own.

As diverse as the individuals who create them, nonprofits shelter the homeless, promote music and the arts, provide support for substance abusers, teach boys and girls about camping, tutor struggling students. One even helps preserve the region’s history by keeping the Miss Veedol replica aircraft flying.

Numbering in the hundreds in Chelan and Douglas counties, alone, most employ far fewer than 10 people each and solicit support from legions of volunteers.

Most glean their funding in small amounts from multiple sources, a few dollars here, a few-thousand-dollar grants there, maybe a lucky injection of funding from an endowment or benefactor.

Together they have combined budgets estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars and projects that benefit tens of thousands of people and animals. And they create jobs.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits website, charitable organizations employ an estimated 7 percent of the U.S. workforce. Add groups from the broader nonprofit sector, including special interest, chambers of commerce and churches, and the employment number grows to 10 percent.

The bottom lines of the most enduring nonprofits are filled not with figures but tangible results.

Think about Art on the Avenues. Think about health care and food banks and helping the homeless and childcare for low-income families,” said Beth Stipe, executive director of the Community Foundation of North Central Washington. “Philanthropy touches everything we’ve come to love in our communities. It’s everywhere. And think what it would be like if we didn’t have any of that.”

Solid foundation

The Community Foundation is the region’s largest collection of endowment funds, invested, managed and distributed to help local nonprofits achieve their philanthropic goals.

Since it was created in 1986, the foundation has received some $54 million in donations, all from local individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit organizations. Its investments total about $44 million, divided into about 300 funds based on donors’ wishes of how their money is spent.

A portion of earnings on the investments are allocated yearly to charitable groups who apply for funding and pass the foundation’s 102 points of scrutiny.

Last year, the foundation awarded nearly $1.5 million in grants to these groups and more than $316,000 in scholarships.

Over the last quarter century, 534 nonprofits have received $23.9 million in foundation grants and 2,192 students have shared $2.7 million in scholarships.

It is an incredible story, when we talk about some of the funds we have been investing and making grants out of since the very beginning,” she said.

She points to a $950,000 fund created in 1999 after donor Roy Hill died. Hill wanted part of the money to support the local symphony orchestra and music scholarships and the rest for unrestricted grants, Stipe said.

Since then, the foundation has awarded almost $700,000 in grants and the fund has grown to more than $1 million.

Annual requests for funding are usually about double the funds available to award, she said. Foundation trustees face tough decisions.

The biggest challenge and the hardest thing is selecting from all the great work out there,” said Stipe. “It’s really tough on our trustees to tell people who are doing great work in the community that we can’t help them.”

She added, “We evaluate everything and pick the best things that will help the community with the resources we have. If we just gave everyone $500, we’re not really helping anyone.”

Penny philanthropy

That’s also a dilemma faced by another of the region’s biggest funding allocators, United Way of Chelan and Douglas Counties.

Alan Walker, executive director, says the nonprofit allocated nearly $600,000 in grants this year. Virtually all of it from local businesses and employees who donate via payroll deduction.

Walker says 82 percent of that benefits local groups. The rest covers fundraising efforts and administration, including two paid staffers.

United Way dates to 1939 in Chelan and Douglas counties. Walker says some 50,000 county residents have benefited from the programs it funds over the years. Its focus, nationwide, is on education, income support and health.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of issues under those categories,” Walker said. “It’s all about human services.”

Looking up

Internal Revenue Service statistics show that philanthropic donations dropped sharply following the Wall Street crash in 2008.

Nationwide, donations recorded by taxpayers who itemize their return dropped to $169.6 billion in 2008, a more than 10 percent decline from 2007.

In Washington, donations that year dipped by more than 11 percent. The slide both nationally and across the state continued in 2009.

Both Stipe and Walker say their own efforts followed the same trend.

But the trend turned around in 2010 and is again growing.

Even though the economy is not great, it’s certainly not as gloomy,” Walker said. “People are generally feeling more positive.”

Funding from organizations like United Way and regional foundations allow nonprofits to spend less time fundraising and more time focused on their community projects, Stipe and Walker say.

Nonprofits add to the overall health of the community,” Walker said. “Without after-school programs, what would those kids be doing? Without emergency shelter, where would those people be sleeping? Proving those basic needs to people until they’re back on their feet is crucial. I think you will find, talking to anybody in our area, that they know somebody who has been helped, directly or indirectly by one of those groups.”

A sampling of nonprofits in the Wenatchee Valley

Wenatchee Valley YMCA

217 Orondo Ave., Wenatchee

Year created: 1910

Mission: To strengthen youth, families and communities by promoting Christian principles and putting them into practice through leadership and programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body.

Annual budget: $2.2 million

Funding: Membership fees, program fees and contributions from individuals and businesses

People served annually: More than 10,000 individuals — including one in three kids in Chelan and Douglas counties — along with 6,000 youth scholarships for program and membership fees.

Recent major project: Continual expansion of facilities and programs, including a new functional training area (equipment) at the Eastmont Pool and offering swim lessons and after-school programs to more kids.

Contact: 662-2109, wenymca.org

Solomon’s Porch

17 S. Mission St., Wenatchee

Year created: 1992

Mission: “Reaching teens by meeting needs” by providing meals, shelter, healthcare and adult advice and mentoring in vital life skills, getting an education and finding a job. Solomon’s Porch is Christian-based.

Annual budget: $133,000

Funding: Primarly from individual donations, but also through grants and contributions from local churches and service organizations.

People served annually: About 40 teens a night, adding up to 500 different kids annually.

Recent major project: Aslan’s Refuge, a teen shelter that includes a commercial kitchen and eight bedrooms for 13 to 17 year olds who find themselves homeless due to abuse, neglect, eviction, parental drug problems or incarceration. Cost: $300,000 in funding and same amount in in-kind donations.

Contact: 662-1712, acts512.org

Women’s Resource Center of NCW

20 Adams St., Wenatchee

Year created: 1976

Mission: Helps individuals and families who are experiencing poverty and homelessness with housing and support services they need to be part of a healthy community.

Annual budget: About $700,000

Funding: A variety of sources, including United Way, contributions from local individuals and businesses and a variety of local, state and federal grants.

People served annually: Over 40,000 individuals with more than 80,000 “contact points” (inquiries and responses) through several food, housing and counseling programs.

Recent major project: Ongoing construction of the $2 million Parkside Place Apartments, which will provide 15 studio apartments for clients experiencing repeated or chronic homelessness.

Contact: 662-0121, womensresourcecenterncw.org

Icicle Fund

7375 Icicle Road, Leavenworth

Year created: 1999

Mission: Supporting the environment, the arts and history in the Wenatchee River watershed and neighboring landscapes, through innovative collaboration.

Annual budget: $2.2 million

Funding: The fund is endowed by Harriet Bullitt, a member of the family that owns King Broadcasting in Seattle.

People served annually: The fund awards between 20 and 30 grants a year.

Recent major project: Construction is underway on the $3.5 million, 240-seat Snowy Owl Theatre at the Icicle Creek Center for the Arts in Leavenworth.

Contact: 548-0429, iciclefund.org

Leavenworth Ski Hill Heritage Foundation

10701 Ski Hill Drive, Leavenworth

Year created: 2002

Mission: To help raise funds for special projects of the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, the Leavenworth Ski Hill and the community at large. Also, to promote health, fitness and fun through skiing and other winter sports with facilities, education, and community activities.

Annual budget: None. But a $500,000 fundraising campaign is underway.

Funding: From mostly fundraising projects and events, along with donations from individuals and businesses.

People served annually: Tens of thousands.

Recent major project: In planning stages now are four major projects, including a $4 million ice skating rink and multi-use pavilion in downtown Leavenworth, a memorial (plaza, outdoor restrooms, ski slope upgrades), a Pacific Northwest ski museum and the Leavenworth Film Festival (in February) featuring short films by Washington filmmakers.

Contact: 888-6025, leavenworthskiheritage.org

Wenatchee Jazz Workshop

127 S. Mission St., Wenatchee

Year created: 2001

Mission: The workshop brings some of the best players in the world of jazz to share their talents and love of music with kids and the community of Wenatchee.

Annual budget: $35,000

Funding: From local and regional grants, along with individual, business and corporate donations.

Recent major project: The annual, one-week workshop for music students at Eastmont and Wenatchee high schools, along with public concerts for jazz lovers. Next workshop is Feb. 4-9.

Contact: 669-2105, wenatcheejazzworkshop.com

Cascade Medical Center Foundation

817 Commercial St., Leavenworth

Year created: 1992

Mission: The Foundation is the nonprofit, fundraising arm of the upper Wenatchee Valley’s community-owned medical center. Led by an entirely volunteer board of directors, the group partners with donors to generate funding used to enhance the patient experience at Cascade Medical Center.

Annual budget: About $250,000

Funding: From a variety of sources, including bequests and a variety of gifts (trusts, securities, life insurance), individual and business donations.

Recent major project: To raise $125,000 in matching grants to help fund an expansion of Cascade Medical Center’s Family Practice Clinic. The additional space will provide two offices, six treatment rooms (for a total of 24) and a new nurses’ station.

Contact: 548-2523, cascademedicalfoundation.org

Wenatchee Valley College Foundation

1300 Fifth St., Wenatchee

Year created: 1971

Mission: The foundation assists the college in achieving its goals through cultivating friends and garnering financial support.

Annual budget: $1.7 million in income to distribute $3.3 million in funding and scholarships.

Funding: From individual, business and corporate donations, plus grants, estate gifts and several fundraising events throughout the year.

Recent major project: Raising more than $6 million to help build the college’s new Music and Arts Center.

Contact: 682-6410, wvc.edu (see WVC foundation)

— compiled by Mike Irwin, Business World staff