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A letter from NGCF Board Chair, Rob Fowler: NGCF 2020 Highlights

NGCF 2020 Highlights
Rob Fowler, NGCF Board Chair

At the first NGCF board meeting of the year, I had the honor of welcoming the members of the 2020 NGCF Board of Directors. I looked around the boardroom filled with dedicated community men and women, as well as the NGCF team, and issued them a challenge: “We must ensure that our recently completed, robust 5-year strategic plan does not collect dust on a shelf. I encourage you to support our community foundation by whatever means possible.”
Additionally, I asked them these questions:

  • How will our community be better because of what
    we do?
  • Are we really making a difference?
  • Are we doing enough?

Little did I know that after that initial board meeting it would be several months before I would see those board members again in person. However, the challenge that I issued and questions I asked were still met in resounding ways above and beyond what I could have ever imagined.

As COVID-19 spread quickly, our once busy streets, businesses, schools, and restaurants became eerily quiet. At this time, however, NGCF stepped up with a loud and clear voice of leadership and community support. Michelle Prater, the NGCF President & CEO, guided the foundation with a steady hand and a visionary outlook through one of the most challenging times the foundation and our community have ever faced.

Living through this historic year and from the view of the NGCF Board Chair, I grew increasingly proud of the fact that NGCF never missed a beat amidst the chaos. Out of concern for the team, building tenants, and fundholders, Michelle moved everyone to a remote working environment. The NGCF team quickly adapted and created innovative ways to continue their work. With remarkable agility, they also began a crisis response to meet the growing needs of the people of North Georgia. Now, reflecting on 2020, especially the months since March, I am awed by what our Foundation has accomplished:

  • In mid-March, NGCF established the NGCF COVID-19 Relief Fund. This fund provided (and continues to provide) financial support to nonprofit organizations serving on the frontlines and meeting the critical needs of people in our community. NGCF allocated our available grant funding to this initiative and received additional contributions from NGCF fundholders, organizations, and individuals. As of December 3, 2020, NGCF has awarded over $1,000,000 in COVID-19 relief grants!
  • As our world and community became divided around issues of inequality, diversity, and inclusion, NGCF took another leadership stance. Michelle and I wrote a Statement on Racial Justice: Standing in Solidarity, Leading with Empathy, on behalf of the Foundation. We will continue to stand by this statement and pursue avenues to actively address injustice in our community.
  • Our scholarship process is very labor-intensive, which was amplified this year by the pandemic. I am proud to share that our Foundation awarded $385,000 in scholarships to students across North Georgia.
  • Michelle made sure that the board and team never lost sight of the importance of the 47 year-one objectives created from the Foundation’s Strategic Plan. Impressively, they were all completed to NGCF’s usual superior standards.
  • Through phone calls, Zoom meetings, emails, social media, or the occasional masked meeting (when appropriate) this year, NGCF has continued to develop and nurture lifelong relationships. These special bonds pay dividends not only today but also well into the future.

The North Georgia Community Foundation was instrumental in bringing together opportunities to support and strengthen our community. Our work is not finished and there are ways for you to be involved: share the good news of NGCF with your friends and family, become a fundholder, add to your existing fund, or simply start by having a conversation with Michelle and her team about how they can help you create your own legacy of giving.

As everyone prepares for Christmas and small gatherings, I challenge you—the reader—to have conversations about legacy building and community around your tables or Zoom get-togethers. Remembering that the word philanthropy derives from Greek roots meaning “love of mankind.” Remind your family and friends that NGCF is the embodiment of the best of humanity, performing acts of service for the common good and enabling others to participate. Let your conversations reflect your passions and dreams that can be fulfilled by becoming part of the North Georgia Community Foundation family.

My greatest hope is that we can take what we have learned this year and continue to stay observant, kind, and open to the needs of others. In closing, let us all keep in mind this quote from Lee Brower: “Gratitude when joined with consistent action, fills the heart with kindness, the mind with understanding and the soul with peace and love.” I hope we never take for granted this amazing community that we are blessed to call our home.

Stay Informed.