The Blame Game
October 25th, 2008I found myself this past week wondering why Congress, the media and others are playing the blame game to find who is at fault for the credit and financial global meltdown. Okay - I understand we need to learn why the economic crisis is occurring so it won't happen again. Frankly that line of thinking would be good IF our collective memory would kick in occasionally but that doesn't seem to happen. We don't seem to learn from past lessons and it seems that these lessons aren't heeded decades later and are wiped clean from our memory!
It is necessary to find out if there has been any culpability of the part of the folks who have brought us to our knees. I understand that BUT . . .
. . .we seem to be consumed by the finger pointing that is playing out on the world stage! Alan Greenspan testified earlier this week admitting that he was surprised at the severity of the current global economic crisis. While our Congressional leaders and others are bound and determined to find the "culprit" and are taking the time to do just that, I trust that attention is also being paid to figuring out how to get us out of this deep hole!
I received an email from a colleague of mine who posted a question on one of the community foundation listservs asking if any of our investment consultants predicted this economic crisis as one of his Finance Committee volunteers wondered why the consultant community didn't read the signs better. I am taking some license on that as I am only assuming that was going through the person's mind.
Hmmm - perhaps that person should have asked that of our financial leaders two years ago - or four years ago - or . . . or . . . or! While there have been signs of this crisis, frankly I don't think many people thought it was going to be this severe. Our investment consultant did advise us that the credit and housing situation would continue to impact investments some time ago.
But I still don't understand why it is important to take precious time and energy right now to point fingers. I want to move forward and provide funds for projects that will help grow this community like the $500,000 investment we made in InnovationWorks a program of The Right Place, Inc! Like the investment we made in the building we bought and renovated over the past 10 months that is our new home. In this Heartside area, we believe in building the core of our city - investing for the future, and moving forward to strengthen the lives of all people in our grand community!
Philanthropy is always important and now it is especially important. I have faith that our community is up to the challenge to continue its support our area nonprofit community and the people served!
Long-term investment strategy of the GRCF
October 19th, 2008
The following message was sent out last week to our various fund holders and I share it as an open letter to all: Since becoming the President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation 21 years ago, there have been a few national events that have shaken the financial market. The current economic crisis is yet another event that we must weather and persevere through. We are all in the market for the long haul, and the "long haul" of a Community Foundation is much longer than any of us can really comprehend. The 5 or 10 or 20 years that each of us think about until we retire, does not exist for a community foundation, we are in the market literally, forever. The Community Foundation invests assets in order to maximize the long-term return while assuming a reasonable level of risk and providing for current grantmaking. Our Investment Review Committee and our Board of Trustees know that these assets have been entrusted to the Foundation to respond to the many needs in our community and they exercise this role very responsibly and view it as most important. Our investment counsel for the past decade, Colonial Consulting, LLC, has been guiding us in developing an effective investment policy while working with our fund managers to follow the strategies set forth in our policy. Charlie Georgalas, the firm's Managing Director works closely with us. As you can imagine, we have been in contact with him regularly in the past three weeks. Colonial has a number of community foundations and nonprofit endowment clients and they are wise stewards of "charitable capital" and understand the important role that our type of capital plays when times are tough across our community, our country and indeed on a global scale. Here is an excerpt of Mr. Georgalas' advice to us: "As stewards of charitable capital, we are faced with the challenge of how best to react to the turmoil which has emerged. While it may seem "safe" or prudent to move to a more defensive posture until conditions improve, this is likely to do more harm than good for it is during difficult periods that we must remain focused on a coherent philosophy geared to achieving investment goals: Therefore, our fundamental view of how best to invest charitable capital has not changed despite all that is happening today. While we have no ability to foresee how much worse the current crisis may become, we can definitively state that the future, much like the past, will bring forth both good days and bad as markets swing between the extreme ends of optimism and pessimism. Ironically, our emotions and the balance between risk and opportunity typically move in opposite directions as great optimism breeds risk while pessimism creates opportunity." Our investments are made for long-term growth and can weather this storm better due to that orientation. We are guided by a spending policy that takes into account fluctuations in the market and is set at a five percent of a 16-quarter rolling average market value. Our primary role is to provide the needed financial resources to keep this community strong and healthy. As you know, building endowment is building a cushion for the future to mitigate the stress of future economic cycles. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is this community's permanent endowment and, as always, we are diligently working to support critical needs in this community.
October 10th, 2008The Foundation's new home is so close to being completed! The signage is all up, the artwork, including our wonderful ArtWorks mobile has been installed and the donor recognition stabile is in place. We officially move in on Friday, October 17, but on the Monday evening October 13, we are hosting a private reception for our Michigan community foundation colleagues who are here for the Council of Michigan Foundations fall conference. We are excited to give a sneak preview to these special people.
The global financial crisis and charitable giving
October 9th, 2008The impact of the global financial and credit crisis on philanthropy remains to be seen. I'm giving a brief presentation tomorrow to the current group of participants of the "Inside Grand Rapids" series sponsored by the Center for Community Leadership previously known as Leadership Grand Rapids on giving trends and all things relating to philanthropy.
What an interesting spot to be in! So I was pleased to see this reference this morning in my scan of newspapers and thought I'd pass it along. I'm an optimist but no Pollyanna and thought this was important to pass along.
Check Out the New Signage
October 7th, 2008New signage has been installed at the building. The corner sign, which displays the logo of the Community Foundation, has a copper patina finish that beautifully compliments the building's exterior. Logo decals have been added to the front entrance to give it more of a presence. Also, a sandstone-like sign was installed on the Oakes Street side of the building naming it the Tom and Mickie Fox Family Building. This is in honor of the generous gift Tom and Mickie Fox gave to get this project started. Please enjoy the photos below and tell us how you like the new look.