“The generosity and forward thinking of many of our founding donors were the bedrock for the work and community investment we provide today and will continue to in the future. That these donors trusted the Foundation with their legacy is deeply meaningful to me personally and to the organization.” - Lori O'Keefe, President & CEO

Thus far in our 40 Years, 40 Stories initiative we have focused our donor stories primarily on individuals, but for this story we are doing something a bit different. For this story we are putting some focus on the important but sometimes unnamed champions of Triangle Community Foundation: those who have entrusted their legacies to us and, in turn, made a difference in their community during and long after their lives.

The Foundation offers many different opportunities for fundholders looking to make a direct impact on our community. One of those is Fund for the Triangle, which provides grant funding to nonprofits whose missions are aligned with our vision for a vibrant Triangle to ensure everyone thrives and one of our impact areas: Cultural Arts, Education & Youth, Capacity Building, and Sustainable Communities.

Another is through a Field-of-Interest fund, which allows a donor to establish support for organizations and programs doing work in a particular area of interest. In both cases the donor is putting their trust in the Foundation to make funding choices that provide the most impact in the community at a particular moment in time or for the long term, and generous donors have made an incredible difference in the community, even with relatively modest gifts. Here are two such examples.

A modest, unrestricted gift that transformed the Foundation’s Cultural Arts program

In 2019, the Foundation received an unrestricted gift of approximately $130,000 through the estate of a fundholder who had passed away. Because Foundation staff had personal and professional relationships with this individual and his family, they knew he was a passionate supporter of various local arts organizations. So, aligned with our policies for unrestricted gifts left to the Foundation, staff were charged with making a recommendation for how to allocate this generous gift in a way that honored the donor’s legacy, and made an impact in the Triangle.

Seeing an opportunity to catalyze philanthropy in support of local arts organizations, staff recommended investing most of the gift into a small grants program. Previously, Cultural Arts was the only impact area that did not have a public grants program. This serendipitous gift was an opportunity to build one and create sustainability for the program for the first few years. The first round of grants was made in the summer of 2020 to 20 arts organizations in the Triangle – a time when $7,500 in unrestricted funding was quite meaningful to the arts organizations selected whose funding streams had been interrupted by pandemic isolation.

Since then, we’ve awarded nearly $550,000 in 28 cultural arts organizations making art that reflects the rich diversity of the Triangle and is accessible to residents across our four-county area. We’re so honored this donor chose to leave the Foundation an unrestricted legacy gift and entrusted staff to use his resources to meet community needs in a way that honored his philanthropic interests during his life.

A perpetual commitment to environmental conservation through a Field-of-Interest Fund

In the last ten years, the Foundation has helped local land conservation organizations protect nearly 300 acres in Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake counties. In addition to conserving land from development, these projects have provided a suite of other community benefits to the Triangle region, from increased water quality and preservation to wildlife habitat to more public access to green spaces and agricultural land. We have also invested more than $2 million in several dozen organizations that are increasing awareness around the importance of conservation and the growing intersection between climate change and maintaining the integrity of our region’s natural environmental systems. These investments would not have been possible without a generous legacy donation by a family dedicated to the conservation of green space during their lifetimes.

During their lives, this family made important contributions to the field of environmental conservation globally, and helped preserve some of the watersheds that provide important quality of life and recreational benefits to the Triangle today. Through their estate they created a generous fund to “educate on the environment and the value of nature,” and provide for “the preservation and creation of green spaces” as well as “acquiring and protecting farms, wetlands, wildlife habitats, forests, watershed, trails, river corridors and lands” in the Triangle area. Thus far their legacy has made $1.67M in grants into the Triangle community and the Foundation has stewarded the fund to have a current balance greater than its initial principal.

Thanks to generous support from donors who are and were a part of our community, we will be able to continue investing in our community – through nonprofits that care about environmental and economic resilience, the education and leadership development of youth, and cultural arts that reflect the people and places of the Triangle.

We have set an important goal to raise $1 million for Fund for the Triangle by December 31, 2023. This funding will allow us to be more generous and grant more dollars to more nonprofits who are doing pressing work in the Triangle, make new grant programs sustainable, and allow us to make investments that align with our values.

For fundholders you can choose to make a gift to the campaign one of two ways, from your fund (log in to the Donor Portal) or make a direct contribution (Donate Button below). We invite non-fundholders to make a gift using the Donate Button. Thank you for your partnership in making the Triangle a thriving region for all!