Eleven months into her tenure as the new leader of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Anne Scott reached a major milestone Wednesday when she shared a new vision for the organization’s approach to philanthropy.
At an annual luncheon held at the Boar’s Head Inn, Scott said that as a newcomer to the community she has spent much of the past year listening. More than 250 people were engaged in the foundation’s community conversations.
“My goal was to invite people here today who had been a part of our community conversations,” Scott said in an interview. “I wanted them to know the Community Foundation was listening and that we were working hard as we go forward to be responsive to what the community would like to see its Community Foundation doing and to share a little bit about what we heard and how we are thinking to tailor our approach.”
Scott was named president and chief executive officer of the foundation in September 2013. She succeeded John Redick, who retired after 28 years with the foundation.
Scott said she was struck by three “fundamentally important” insights from the foundation’s self-assessment — the need for the community to work better together; to make more headway on longstanding challenges at a larger scale; and to provide leadership for reaching goals with bigger outcomes.
“People said that they struggle sometimes to come together across different groups,” said Scott. “I think people get very active in their zone or in their group and they said we need to work on that and to try to come together.”
“‘Fragmentation’ is too strong a word, but there was a sense there are a lot of different active groups, and that was important to me, because when people said they wanted to get bigger impacts, you can’t keep doing that, you have to come together across those groups,” she said.
In her remarks at the luncheon, which included video testimonials by several of the community conversation participants, Scott said the foundation also heard it should continue doing what it does well.
“On this point, I can reassure you: We have directly provided $600,000 in grants to 50 local area nonprofit organizations. We have further facilitated an additional $7.5 million in contributions through our 214 donor and other advised funds benefiting 486 different organizations.”
“Supporting a wide range of community activities and needs through our many funds will always be a huge part of what CACF does,” Scott added.
Scott said any change in funding priorities would come only after further input.
“We were further advised that CACF does not have to choose right away any one outcome or aspirational goal to tackle,” said Scott. “Instead, what we want to turn to next is to work with our partners to build a robust communitywide dialogue so that whatever we take on is of the community’s choosing.”
When that happens, Scott sees an expanded opportunity for the foundation to provide coordinated leadership and to “exercise its capabilities in some new ways.”
“People feel that they would like more help in taking on these bigger things,” she said.
“We must have 30 nonprofits here working on early-childhood education or education, but there is no format where they can come together and commit to mutual success goals, and know there is a resource flow to achieve that goal and know what their role in that success is and bring it together in a much more coordinated way,” Scott said. “That I think is holding us back.”
Fundamentally, Scott said the foundation would focus on four major things: being a convener, being a grant-maker, being a fund manager for its donors and serving as a clearinghouse for community resources.
“We want to be a good partner, and we want to partner widely,” she said. “My hope is that increasingly over time, you will be able to find CACF, your community foundation, up there alongside others, at the forefront of some really big and positive changes that are happening in the community.”
Charlottesville Tomorrow is a past recipient of grants from the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.