A solid foundation for New Mexico's charities - Albuquerque Journal

A solid foundation for New Mexico’s charities

A graduating class of Encuentro’s home health aide program at CNM, filling a critical need while collaborating with other nonprofits. (Courtesy of CNM)

New Mexico is home to thousands of nonprofit charities.

Some provide direct services, like food banks and homeless shelters, while others accumulate wealth to provide for New Mexicans through grants and cooperative efforts for the longer term, like the Albuquerque Community Foundation or the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

Some exist to provide private and corporate support for an institution, like the University of New Mexico Foundation.

They are all classified by the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3)s. The IRS further refines each charitable organization into groups by how they raise funds and how they distribute them.

The United Way of Central New Mexico through its Center for Nonprofit Excellence, centerfornonprofitexcellence.org, lists 2,604 nonprofit organizations that provide many kinds of community services from education, health, crisis intervention, family support and much more.

The United Way of Central New Mexico, which serves a four-county area – Bernalillo, Torrance, Sandoval and Valencia counties – is like an umbrella organization. It collects funds mostly through payroll contributions and then distributes most of those donations to community organizations that provide some kind of direct services, but they also have their own programs that support families and education.

“Of the 17,000 donors that we had last year, 16,000 of them were workplace donors,” said Randy Woodcock, UWCNM vice president and chief development officer. “We used to have a slogan, ‘You give once for all the good it can do,'” he said. “We make direct grants to 64 different community programs.”

More than 400 eighth-grade students participated in student-led tours of Rio Grande High School during the third annual Pride to Profession South Valley Career Fair at Rio Grande High School. (Courtesy of Rio Grande High School)

Donors can identify specific programs or leave their contribution for unrestricted use and UWCNM can use it to support its initiatives for families and education – Mission: Graduate and Mission: Families.

“Those are kind of a special case where we saw a need in the community, but there wasn’t a particular nonprofit that was addressing those needs,” said Jeanette Brahl, chief communications officer at UWCNM. The efforts succeed through collaborative community efforts.

Jeanette Brahl

Corporate donations from partners like Presbyterian Health Plan Inc., Lovelace Health System, PNM, Sandia National Laboratories and others also support the UWCNM efforts. About $1.6 million of last year’s donations came from corporations, Woodcock said.

The UNM Foundation fundraising supports all of UNM including the Health Sciences Center, UNM Hospital, UNM Children’s Hospital, UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center and all the branch campuses, said Jennifer Kemp, the foundation’s senior director for marketing and communication.

The $101 million raised last year comes from alumni, friends, corporations and foundations, she added. The foundation awarded more than 2,250 scholarships to students. Through a corporate donor, it created a position for a full-time teacher for the Children’s Hospital so young patients there miss as little of their education as possible. Those are two of the many highlights of the past year, she said.

The UNM Foundation also has a permanent endowment fund. During the past 30 years the fund has grown by about 7.1% annually to exceed $300 million. The fund distributed $16.5 million last year, she said.

William Smith, president and CEO at Santa Fe Community Foundation, said the foundation gives back about 12% of its assets annually.

The foundation, started in 1981, is classified as a tax-exempt public charity and shared about $10 million of its $78 million in assets last year, Smith said. People can leave money to the foundation in their wills, make ongoing gifts for specific purposes – donor-advised funds – or allow the foundation to distribute it. A gift of any amount is welcome.

The foundation’s current initiatives include community leadership, education and schools, incarceration diversion, health, LGBTQ, hunger, refugee and asylum seekers and more.

Of those, Smith said one example of the reach of the foundation was to work with people in Las Vegas, N.M., to support philanthropy in northern New Mexico. “They’ve done $15,000 in grant making this year and another $15,000 last year.”

The foundation provides seed money so communities can provide for their needs.

“We have similar work in Española and Chama,” he added.

The foundation also loaned money to a company that restored two historic hotels in Las Vegas.

“That was a no brainer for us,” Smith said. The projects created more than 100 construction jobs and 70-90 full-time jobs at the hotels. The loan allowed the company to leverage $4 million in historic restoration tax credits, he added.

“We think building a culture of philanthropy strengthens and empowers New Mexico,” he said.

While much of the work is done through grants to nonprofits, one of the foundation’s direct programs comes through donations to the Empty Stocking Fund. “A dollar in is a dollar out,” he said. “We have one-quarter of a million neighbors in need.” People can apply for help with rent, car repairs, groceries, help with utility bills and more.

At Albuquerque Community Foundation, endowments are grown over time and 4% of the assets are distributed annually, explained Joanna Colangelo, Community Impact Director.

The permanent endowment fund totals more than $100 million and the foundation distributes $4 million to $5 million in grants to local direct-service nonprofits every year. Field of interest grants stretch from arts and culture to education, the environment, health and more, Colangelo said.

The foundation began in 1980 with $200 in the bank, according to abqfoundation.org.

“The fund was started with the idea that it would last into perpetuity,” she said.

It has grown through the generosity of its donors who want to make Albuquerque the best it can be.

Some donors set up funds for specific good works, donor-advised funds, while other clarify their intentions in their wills and others support the work the foundation does through its competitive grant making.

“We want to honor the donor’s intent,” she said.

There are also future funds for those just starting their careers. The funds are effective because of advantages of combining resources.

“Anyone and everyone can be a philanthropist,” she said. “Every dollar has significance and can grow over time if it is combined.”

The foundation involves as many decision makers in the community as it can to make sure that the needs of the greater Albuquerque area are well understood.

“It’s our job to be in the community all day long,” she said.

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