To our friends
We are happy to report that 2012 was Sonoma Valley Fund’s most successful year ever! The Fund’s sponsorship of Endow Sonoma Valley Month, our partnerships with Valley non-profits, our grantmaking (along with parent, Community Foundation Sonoma County) to organizations benefiting the Valley, and our support of legacy giving were all at record levels this year.
Endow Sonoma Valley month… a great Success
In October of 2012 Sonoma Valley Fund launched the first ever Endow Sonoma Valley Month. The goals of this month-long series of events were to increase awareness of legacy giving in the Valley and to encourage more people to make a charitable legacy gift commitment. We succeeded on both counts. As a part of Endow Sonoma Valley Month, Sonoma Valley Fund sponsored six events aimed at increasing awareness, education and action. Some events were open to the general public, others targeted capacity building of our non-profit partners, and still others were directed at fostering awareness amongst influential donors. More than 500 people attended these events and the number of legacy donors doubled over the year. We are extremely pleased with the results of this effort and hope to continue to build on the concept in the years to come.
Grant making increases dramatically
Grant making from Sonoma Valley Fund, and its parent Community Foundation Sonoma County, into the Valley increased dramatically in 2012. Over $414,000 was granted to non- profits serving Sonoma Valley. This amount represents the single largest year for grant making to Sonoma Valley in our history – a 200 percent increase over 2011! Since Sonoma Valley Fund’s inception in 2007, Community Foundation Sonoma County and Sonoma Valley Fund have directed a combined total of more than $1.65M in grants to the Valley.
Our grants to non-profit organizations serving Sonoma Valley during 2012 came in all sizes, from $1,000 to $100,000. Recipients included community organizations dedicated to educational and environmental improvements in the Valley; increased access to basic human services; and arts and culture. Among the largest grants were $71,000 to La Luz Bilingual Center’s “English as a Second Language” (ESL) classes following the closure last year of the School District’s ESL program; $35,000 to the Sonoma Ecology Center to help create a community garden in Larson Park; $42,300 to the United Way of the Wine Country to help Sonoma Valley third grade students meet reading standards through the Schools of Hope program; and $40,000 to Pets Lifeline’s Wellness and Spay/Neuter Clinics in the Valley.
The money behind these grants derives from a variety of funds managed by Community Foundation Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley Fund’s parent organization. Almost $300,000 represented initial grants from the Todd Trust, an $8.5 million bequest from Roland and Hazel Todd left to benefit non-profit organizations primarily in Sonoma Valley (see back panel). Another $120,000 was distributed to Sonoma Valley non-profit organizations based on Community Foundation Sonoma County’s overall discretionary grantmaking processes. Some $29,000 represented final grants from the Ellman Fund, a gift from Phyllis and George Ellman awarded over five years and targeted at Valley non-profits (see back panel).
At Sonoma Valley Fund, we are dedicated to helping sustain and improve the overall quality of life in the Valley. It is gratifying to see that our efforts to endow the Valley have begun to contribute significantly toward this worthy goal.
Non-Profit Partnerships Continues to grow
Sonoma Valley Fund brings area non-profit organizations together around the common goal of long-term financial health. We help them develop endowment and legacy giving programs that keep them resilient in changing economic times and provide access to professional advisors. If they invest through Community Foundation Sonoma County, organizations also gain effective fund management and expert fulfillment of many fiduciary requirements. Our non-profit partnerships now number a record 22, and their managed investments now exceed $2.3 million.
This year, as a part of the Endow Sonoma Valley Month activities, special attention was given to supporting our non-profit partners as they seek to grow their legacy giving programs. In addition to working with Valley non-profits to include their donors and prospective donors in all of our celebrations and activities, Sonoma Valley Fund sponsored a workshop for all Valley non-profits, providing information and tools designed to help grow legacy-giving programs. The workshop featured Tom Horton, Director of Legacy Giving at Guide Dogs for the Blind, an international philanthropic organization with one of the most successful legacy giving programs in the country.
Legacy gifts increase by 95%
In 2012, Sonoma Valley Fund set a goal of dramatically increasing the number of known legacy gift commitments to non-profits in the Valley. Working alongside our non-profit partners, we saw an increase of 95% in the number of known charitable legacy commitments to Valley non-profits.
At Sonoma Valley Fund we focused both on increasing our own legacy donor roster, which more than doubled to almost 40 known gift commitments, and on supporting our non-profit partners to expand their own legacy giving programs. Several of our non-profit partners made significant strides this year toward growing their legacy donor base. In fact, one non-profit organization increased the number of legacy donors to their organization from less than 10 to almost 40, a four-fold increase!
Sonoma Valley Fund can work with donors to enable them to direct their charitable contributions to their favorite organizations, to donate now or later, within Sonoma Valley or beyond. In 2011, we inaugurated the Sonoma Valley Legacy Circle to recognize those who choose to support the community through their estate plans. In June 2012, Sonoma Valley Fund hosted the first ever Sonoma Valley Legacy Circle Reception. Over 100 donors and non-profit staff were honored at the event. We look forward to hosting the 2nd Annual Sonoma Valley Legacy Circle Reception in 2013.
Sonoma Valley Fund is still young and our mission is clear: to promote and facilitate local philanthropy and legacy giving by serving as a bridge between nonprofits, estate-planning professionals and donors. No other organization unites all constituencies around the purpose of endowing the Sonoma Valley community as a whole. Thanks to the passionate commitment and tireless work of our volunteer board members, advisors, and committees, our accomplishments belie our age.
The results in 2012 represent only the beginning of our efforts to help sustain and improve the valley’s unique socioeconomic, environmental, and cultural qualities for generations to come. We especially thank our donors and supporters, and we invite you, if you haven’t already, to join us in working to secure a bright future for the community we love.
Sonoma Valley Fund Board President, 2012-2013