Inclusive City—A Plan That Will Inspire Others to Make Positive Change
How many times have you tried to research foundations, corporations, organizations, associations and individuals only to find out that these entities are not accepting new proposals? In fact, they have not accepted new proposals for quite some time. These entities set the amount of funds they give to charities and determine the same recipients of funds as a matter of course. It is frustrating when you attempt to seek funds, especially when you feel your mission is a perfect match to a funder that is “closed” to you.
To my pleasant surprise, I was recently invited to an event at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home of the Indiana Pacers NBA Team. I was invited by the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) to hear about its new operational plans. I assumed several hundred nonprofit representatives would be in attendance. To my surprise, several thousand people attended. According to CICF, teams at CICF, The Indianapolis Foundation and Hamilton County Community Foundation have studied a growing body of research that tells a dismaying story about the American Dream for some time.
The research pointed out three important findings:
- There is a growing gap between the affluent and the poor in Central Indiana.
- The chances of making it out of poverty are slim, and the chances of doing better than your parents are declining.
- Race has a profound impact on opportunity.
CICF leadership decided it was time to change and re-evaluate the major focus of their organization. They truly wanted to meet community needs as these needs are presented in 2019. So CICF created a new mission: “to mobilize people, ideas and investments to make this a community where all individuals have equitable opportunity to reach their full potential no matter place, race or identity.”
According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the CICF’s new five-year plan focuses on making Indianapolis a more inclusive city. A goal of this plan is to train 5,000 community leaders and residents about institutional racism. The foundation, which controls $800 million in charitable assets, changed its mission to reflect its new focus on equity tackling racism.
The new strategic plan called “Inclusive City,” which CICF announced at the function I attended, outlined what actions it would take to put the new mission into practice. The foundation will direct about $17.5 million over the next five years to fund initiatives related to five goals. In Marion County Indiana, the major goals will be family stabilization, economic mobility, criminal justice reform, neighborhood empowerment and place making, plus dismantling of systemic racism. In Hamilton County, the key focus areas include mental health, family and youth empowerment, plus inclusive economic growth.
This enhanced direction of the mission, vision and focus by CICF should serve as an example to other funders across the country to understand your changing community, create or modify your strategic plan with input from all stakeholders in the communities you serve and seek to do something about long standing community issues. I applaud the CICF for making this paradigm shift.
I gleaned a major takeaway from sitting in the audience. I felt that my organization should focus on obtaining new partners with similar objectives in the future that can assist CICF in meeting community challenges. Many of our organizations have segments of our services that potentially overlap. This CICF challenge will help our organization and others rethink what we are doing and how we are doing it. Ironically, my organization is also beginning to go through a strategic planning process. I am certain this process and end result will sharpen our fundraising focus in the future.
I am blessed to live and work in such a caring community that is constantly seeking solutions to meet timely community issues. I wish CICF and its dynamic leader, CEO Brian Payne, much future success in achieving their new plan, which Payne says “will be a generational commitment.”
On a broader scale, I hope that funding organizations across the country attempt to move from the status quo to seek new missions, visions and operational areas of focus. This process will allow new requests from fund seekers that can and will make a difference in the changing communities they serve.
I am convinced if embraced, new funders will succeed if given a chance.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.