Clemmons Community Foundation routinely uses the terms “smart” and “transformational” in its focus for giving and community impact. What does that mean and why do we care? It is a natural human characteristic to have compassion for others and to want to remove conditions that cause physical or emotional pain, the lack of provision in basic needs, social injustice limiting opportunity and access. This compassion has prompted generous programs and charitable giving to meet immediate needs… but even after decades of tremendous financial and programmatic investment, too little change has occurred in academic and career progress, the prevalence of poverty, and the individual and community conditions that result.
Transformation suggests change — a change in our thinking and questions, a change in our expectations, a change in our approach to philanthropy… and a focus upstream to the root causes of the issues and needs that seem unshakable. We now routinely ask, what sustainable difference are we making in the needs and issues, our communities and the residents therein… and how can we influence and deploy philanthropy to address the nagging issues that can slowly erode the community fabric? Of course, we respect and carry out the philanthropic goals and dreams of our donors — sometimes rooted in a compassionate, immediate response to emergency needs. Yet, we also ask questions, examine program outcomes, and explore best and new practices locally and around the country. We strive to find and recommend effective, long-term, and sustainable solutions to recurring issues of basic needs, education, behavioral health, environmental challenges, community engagement, creativity and innovation, and every other focus commonly supported by the generous donors who want to make a difference.
For all of us, making a difference ideally means solving a current problem once-and-for-all with a long-term solution… and such solutions are transformative; transforming the circumstances, approach, or culture in a way that residents thrive and live into their greatest potential. Transformational solutions to community needs also transform us as donors because we see a lasting return on our philanthropic investment… and we then become eager to take on the next challenge and even to increase our philanthropic investment knowing, without question, that our resources were so wisely invested and stewarded for lasting good, for our communities, forever.
None of us can accomplish such transformations alone. Communities are complex with many players of differing roles, systems, and priorities shaping some aspect of the lives of each resident. Personal philanthropy may address an immediate need, but long-standing solutions require deeper, broader work with all the multi-dimensional challenges that influence the complex challenges. Transformation, therefore invites all organizations to seek and embrace a shared understanding and a vibrant vision of what can be accomplished when we work together in the broader, multi-dimensional nature of lasting solutions. Such is the strategy and role we embrace for the Clemmons Community Foundations and we invite you to join us and become a partner in transformational philanthropy.