At the Jan. 20 meeting of the Fallbrook Revitalization Council, representatives from local nonprofit organizations and clubs that serve the area heard about an innovative idea implemented in the North Lake Tahoe region that serves as a guiding (umbrella) organization over numerous charitable groups.
While there are also distinct differences, the Fallbrook area and North Lake Tahoe region have certain similarities and have faced some of the same challenges. Both communities are favored with a large number of nonprofit community-oriented organizations that provide valuable resources to enrich life for residents. However, with all those striving to make a positive impact, it’s easy for fundraising events to overlap, for certain causes to receive multiple support and other worthy ones to be overlooked. That was when Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation was formed in an effort to foster coordinated communication amongst the valuable individual organizations.
“At that time, we had 308 nonprofit organizations and nobody talked to each other,” explained Claudia Andersen, CEO of the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, when she addressed the Fallbrook group that day at Fallbrook Public Utility District.
Vince Ross, president of the Fallbrook Village Association, asked Andersen to make a trip to Fallbrook to share information about her experience with the umbrella organization endeavor.
“We have talked about more collaboration [between the Fallbrook groups] for years, but we need to get better at it,” said Ross. “We need to pay attention and take notes about this organizational model.”
Andersen explained that the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation was established in 1996 and the first order of business was to raise money for both a generous endowment fund and a separate capital resource fund.
After that, funds and grant money was used to build an operation center, within which nonprofit organizations could apply to be housed – under one roof. That was particularly advantageous, Andersen said, because while there were a large number of charitable organizations, there were very few facilities where people could meet.
“There was definitely a resource gap,” said Andersen. “And we were able to secure grant funds to help them with renting the space.”
Next on the agenda, Andersen said, was fostering communication between the organizations.
Individuals or families wishing to contribute to worthy causes in the community can make donations or establish an ongoing endowment fund to support certain endeavors.
“There are many ways people can make donations,” said Andersen. “They can make a single donation or set up their entire estate to go into it eventually.”
Andersen also said area businesses were besieged by numerous requests by the large number of organizations all requesting donations to their individual groups.
“Our businesses were getting hit for money from everyone,” she said, indicating that the new umbrella organization could handle business donations more effectively and in a time efficient manner to benefit different entities.
Donors can also set up an individual fund under the organization to benefit causes relating to a certain area of interest, which could include focuses such as youth scholarships, animal rescue causes, senior citizen needs, food pantry operations, and much more.
“Then, organizations that focus on those related areas or services can apply for grants available from the fund,” said Andersen.
Andersen said another benefit of the master organization was it serves as a great training resource.
“All volunteers get tired of carrying the torch and nonprofit organizations change officers all the time,” she said, explaining that guidance is provided by the umbrella organization for those needing some help from a mentor. One such individual was a new director for the North Lake Tahoe Trails Council.
“The [new] director was able to hit the ground running because of the network of help available through Parasol,” said Andersen.
However, there is certain reluctance by some organizations to engage in a collective organization.
“It’s all about cash,” said Andersen. “Some organizations’ officers say ‘I don’t want to give out our donor list to anyone else’”.
“We got over that,” she said. “The organizations realized pretty quickly that we could get them additional grants to help their causes and that we were able to raise more money with less work.”
Andersen said the Parasol organization has also helped the individual groups with manpower.
“We have been able to secure grants to hire college interns and place them throughout the organizations to provide them with help,” she explained. “Then, the interns work as a team to help facilitate communication. It’s of great benefit to everyone.”
Andersen said the Parasol organization has been so successful it has now expanded to include nonprofits in two states and six counties and larger strategic plans are underway.
“We are preparing to take it to the next level as we have been approached by others who want to partner with us and help with growth,” she said.
Roy Ansell, with Fallbrook’s Legacy… the Community Foundation, asked what size financial holdings Parasol had to date.
“We have $41 million in assets currently,” replied Andersen.
Jerri Patchett, affiliated with the Friends of the Fallbrook Library and the Fallbrook Beautification Alliance, asked what Parasol requires of affiliated nonprofits.
“A willing spirit regarding collaboration; that’s it,” said Andersen.
Anne Burdick, a member of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group and Keep Fallbrook Clean & Green, asked a key question – how the master organization was initially funded, since in Fallbrook dozens of charitable organizations bombard the same local business owners for donations.
“At the time we began Parasol, businesses were pretty flush with money to help get the endowment fund started,” admitted Andersen, “but we still focused on trying to raise a lot of funds from sources outside the area.”
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