Grays Harbor Community Foundation – Hoquiam
Eric Potts is the executive director of the Grays Harbor Community Foundation which works to improve the quality of life in all communities throughout Grays Harbor County. Here, he shares how community connection has sustained their work.
2020 is coming to a close. How are you feeling?
Well, 2020 has been an interesting year but with all of the obstacles 2020 has presented, the Foundation invested over $3M into our community- our most ever in a single year. We saw a rise in giving through our donor advised funds as our donors had a strong desire to help where help was needed most. Our community is small, but mighty and passionate about working together for the common good. We feel confident in our role as community connectors, connecting people to causes they care about and having a strong idea of where the community pulse and needs are.
How are you taking care of yourself and your staff right now?
In 2020, we started to split our time between working from home and working in the office. We are a staff of 3.5 FTE’s that manages close to $80M in assets and several programs including grants, scholarships and early learning. The staff has adapted to a changing work atmosphere and has been able to balance it all very well. We were able to keep everything running smoothly as a unit while also quickly responding to the emerging pandemic needs in our community.
What do you hope for 2021?
With our donor advised funds being very active in 2020, we hope to continue to grow that program and offer an easy way for individuals and businesses to get engaged in philanthropy at a local level. Our donors are the heart of our work and it was great to see them accomplish their philanthropic goals and be a part of that process.
What support do you or your organization need in 2021?
Throughout 2020, we have appreciated the connection to what other community foundations are doing and learning more on the overall best industry practices. Our hope is that this will continue into 2021.
What are you most proud of this year?
Our collaboration with the community has been amazing and our board has supported all of our ideas and initiatives throughout the year. We were able to award close to $300,000 for pandemic related needs from emergency requests, childcare and food assistance, grants for loss of fundraising revenue and overall just connecting orgs with additional resources and support. We are a small, but mighty community that steps up in times of need and 2020 has shown us that when we work together, more can get done.
What message or advice do you have for other community foundations in Washington?
Engage with your donors. So many want to give, but no longer live in the community and don’t have a strong sense of community needs. That is a foundation’s strong suit and it makes donors feel good to give to specific causes that align with their passions. So often they just need to be presented with the idea and from there, so much good can be done.
What questions do you have for the nonprofit community?
How can we continue to help them into 2021 and the future and bring the best training and resources directly into our community?