Inside Foundant – the Blog

How One Community Foundation Quadrupled Their Activity without Increasing Staff

Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF) is located in a small, but very active community in the northwest corner of Washington State. In 2011, with assets of $4 million spread across 70+ funds, they had outgrown their “off the shelf” bookkeeping software. Over half their limited staff time was spent on accounting, but they struggled with finding a technology solution that was the right fit.

Existing programs at the time just didn’t fit, some products were too cumbersome, too complicated and far too expensive while the less expensive solutions did not have the right tools. Not a recipe for growth.

~Hilary Canty, Executive Director Orcas Island Community Foundation

Fortunately, the OICF Finance Administrator happened to be married to a software engineer, Chris Sutton, who had created enterprise resource planning systems for multinational companies. The complexities of community foundations were tame in comparison. Chris was able to build a solution for OICF, their board gave the blessing to move forward in late 2011, and the foundation went live with CommunitySuite in June of 2012. “The system fully integrates our financials, grants, donors, and more. It has freed up our staff time to do the real work of our Foundation — building philanthropy to meet community need,” noted Hilary.

The growth in distributions has been impressive — from $300,000 in 2012 to over $1.8 million currently. Assets have also grown and they now have over 95 funds, all managed with the same small staff. OICF is currently ranked among the top 10 grant makers per capita nationally (cf INSIGHTS FY 2015 Top 100 Rankings).

Having a fully integrated financial software program has allowed OICF to launch a grants catalog which expands annual grantmaking to the entire community and leverages discretionary grant dollars significantly. Contributions can be made easily and are tracked automatically. Hilary states, “It has been a great way to engage the community in the process.”

Since switching to the CommunitySuite platform four and a half years ago, our grantmaking has grown from $300,000 to over $1.8 million, the number of donors has increased by threefold with nearly 10% of the local island community participating, and we now run two annual online grant programs, all while maintaining the foundation staff size!

~Jennifer Wallace, Director of Financial Administration Orcas Island Community Foundation

To learn more about the Orcas Island and CommunitySuite story, click here.