Drubin, South Africa

Project Spotlight

A Case Study in the Creation of a New Philanthropic Organization

A group of Jefferson County, WA residents came together in 2004 interested in filling a vital community need, but none of them had much experience in philanthropy. They did, however know enough about community foundations to know it was a good idea for their community. Kristina accepted their offer to take charge of the project, and within two years, the Jefferson County Community Foundation had nonprofit status, a working board, educational outreach programs, a plan for developing long-term fundraising, and investment strategies. By early 2012, the Jefferson County Community Foundation had received national certification from the Council on Foundation as meeting National Standards, and had reached $1M in assets.

First Steps to Incorporation
Kristina began by facilitating the founding group's meetings, developing agendas and making sure the fledgling organization was on track with the legal steps to becoming a public charity. She presented them with research on other community foundations, and facilitated the writing of a comprehensive business plan. Kristina used concept mapping as a tool to facilitate decision making and capacity building and wrote basic fact sheets to use as marketing tools.

Creating a successful board is one of the most important elements of any foundation. Kristina began by educating the founding group on what makes good board members and how to recruit them. She then guided the careful selection of what has become a successful working board. She also shepherded the organization through the minutiae of nonprofit incorporation: writing of bylaws, tax exemption work, and developing a set of foundation policies.

Early Successes
Community foundations generate their funding through an endowment, or a large fund of donations that are wisely invested but never spent. Only the interest from the endowment goes to fund programs. Kristina facilitated the development of a volunteer investment team to create the foundation's investment strategy, headed by a local investment manager she recruited. The next step was helping the board create decision-making policies and practices to guide their grant-giving. The first grant from the community endowment was awarded in May 2007, to a Waldorf-inspired farm school teaching low-income residents of Jefferson County to grow and prepare their own organic food.

After cultivating the Jefferson County Community Foundation from its early seeds to fruition, Kristina became the founding director. She worked with the foundation's legal team in Seattle, organizing outreach events, and coaching board members approaching key funders. Responding to express needs from the local nonprofit community, the board took Kristina's suggestion to form the Jefferson County Nonprofit Alliance as the "educational arm" of the community foundation. This broadened the foundation's impact by offering capacity-building workshops and forums for the very organizations it may someday fund.

Powerful Potential
By studying areas of unmet need and using the power of its endorsement to meet community goals, The Jefferson County Community Foundation can be a catalyst to action. It can also be a neutral community entity to tackle community challenges by helping people realize their desire to create healthy, viable communities.

"This is the second nonprofit I've pretty much created from scratch," Kristina says (the first being the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession). "The most important – and most interesting – part of my work is the philanthropic part. It's really inspiring to help create a foundation for charitable purposes that will have a significant and long-lasting effect on the community."


KLMayer facilitated the launch of The Fund for Women and Girls as a component of the Jefferson County Community Foundation. The Fund’s mission is to empower women and girls by engaging lead donors and inspiring legacy giving. The fund empowers women and girls in the local community by seeking out and identifying emerging programs, creating grantmaking recommendations for local nonprofits and collaborating with local agencies. The mission of the fund is to create a society where women and girls are supported in pursuing life, education and opportunity in an environment that is safe and economically secure and without prejudice and discrimination.

“I would like to publicly thank Kris Mayer for her vision, leadership, and tenacity in helping to establish the Jefferson County Community Foundation. Her background in philanthropy and work with private foundations was instrumental in getting JCCF off the ground, and her guidance and leadership was invaluable… ”
- Carol McGrough

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