Community Foundation of Central Georgia Helps Philanthropy Thrive

Barbara Kieker

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

People choose to give to their community through the Community Foundation of Central Georgia (CFCG) because the foundation makes the process easy, convenient and flexible.  Each donor sets the parameters for how their funds are to be used either generally or specifically.  For example, if a donor is interested generally in animal welfare, CFCG staff will proactively look for projects in that field of interest.  All donors have separate accounts. 

"Most people open a fund with us because they feel blessed and want to give back," Dennis said. 

"Many are looking to create a family legacy by endowing a fund that their children and grandchildren can guide in the future."

Most of the funds at CFCG are for perpetuity, which means a portion is given to the community each year and the remainder is invested.  Over the long term, this approach leads to higher annual giving supported by a growing endowment. 

"Community Foundation of Central Georgia started 21 years ago.  It took 15 years to award the first $25 million in grants and scholarships, and then just five years to award the next $25 million," Dennis said. 

"That's the power of an endowment.  It's exponential." 

CFCG works with individuals, families, corporations, private foundations and not-for-profit organizations to carry out their charitable objectives and address emerging community issues. One of more than 700 community foundations in the country, CFCG was founded in 1993 by a group of citizens interested in encouraging philanthropy and strengthening communities. Since then, CFCG has awarded more than $61 million in grants through its donor-advised, unrestricted, designated, field-of-interest, scholarship and organizational endowment funds.

Helping citizens work toward common goals

In August, the Barnesville-Lamar Community Foundation, a CFCG affiliate, launched LamarGives365 to bring people together to improve the community. Each person gives $365 per year—just one dollar a day—to make the community a better place. Donations are pooled, with half of the money used to give grants this year and the other half placed in an endowment for the future. Donors also help choose which organizations receive grants. 

"Our goal is to engage a more diverse group of people so that we can grow the total pie of philanthropic dollars available to our community," said CFCG President Kathryn Dennis. 

"People can join LamarGives365 online and help with the grant research by visiting nonprofits and voting on grant requests.  It's very social." 

Barnesville-Lamar is the pilot community for the "dollar a day" project.  The goal for the project is 164 members or approximately $60,000 in funds.  If the project succeeds, then CFCG expects to take the idea to other communities. 

"It provides unrestricted money to support the community and it's a way to build an endowment to support sustainable giving over the long term," Dennis said. 

Building strong neighborhoods

Five years ago, CFCG received a $3 million grant from the Knight Foundation to administer the Knight Neighborhood Challenge, which is a grant program to fund the best ideas to improve the College Hill neighborhood.  After working with local citizens and groups at a grassroots level, CFCG realized the power that people can have in transforming their own neighborhoods.  As a result, CFCG will commit some of the Foundation's unrestricted dollars to continue a focus on improving neighborhoods using a similar grassroots approach. 

"We know that working grassroots up is the best way to make neighborhoods stronger," Dennis said. 

"The Knight program provided the capital to implement the College Hill corridor master plan." 

CFCG makes these types of giving programs accessible to people and businesses in Central Georgia.  By endowing a fund at CFCG, families and businesses can ensure their giving occurs consistently in good years and bad.  More information on Community Foundation of Central Georgia is available at

About Barbara Kieker

Barbara Kieker is a freelance writer who writes on business-related topics for a number of web-based properties. She also provides communications services to Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.