That ranges from dozens of in-need students at the Davis Applied Technology College who receive scholarships, to Davis School District students who receive coats and other necessities, thanks to funds raised by the Davis Education Foundation.
There are dozens of such foundations in the county and across the state – some started by family organizations to schools.
The Utah Community Foundation (UCF) was formed a couple of years ago to serve as a public foundation and pools resources of small foundations.
“We create one big foundation. You get a better return on your investment. All funds are held in trust,” explained UCF executive director Fraser Nelson.
Overseen by a board of trustees and a volunteer group of investment advisers, gifts can be awarded from those individual trusts “at the advice of the donors that created them,” she said.
“This in essence is a charitable organization rainy day fund. That was one of the things that was driving us to create this,” Fraser said.
“We were the only state that didn’t have a savings plan for nonprofits.”
State Community Foundations were started in the early 1900s. The Idaho Community Foundation, for example, has divided the state into various regions, with boards representing each area.
Funds are allocated to applying agencies for everything from library programs to new roofs for public facilities on a regular basis. But that foundation has been operating for more than 60 years.
“In middle Tennessee, where there were big floods, the community foundation was the first money in,” Fraser said. “If there was three feet of mud in the streets, a town would be hurt. The chamber of commerce didn’t have money.
“Thank goodness for the community foundation that could commit money right away,” she said.
There are many organizations and foundations that can and do help, locally, she emphasized.
“In the case of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, when it hits, we are going to be going to the Red Cross, Eccles, United Way, LDS Church. These organizations are obviously heavily tapped already. They’re private,” Fraser said.
“I’m sure the Eccles Family will not turn its back on downtown Salt Lake, or the church won’t, but what about all of us. Don’t we all have responsibility for the health of our communities?”
A community foundation serves as a central source where nonprofit agencies, in particular, can turn for help.
“Utah has a ton of private family foundations. The problem with that is in Utah, you have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off to find all of these small foundations,” she said.
It may mean a $500 donation here, $1,000 there. But it can translate almost into more time and energy expended in search of those sources than its worth, Fraser said.
“Imagine trying to build a car. One foundation would build the windshield, another the right wheel, but no one would pay for operating it,” she said as an example.
“It’s really hard to find which organizations are doing well,” and which groups are credible, she continued.
“No one is spending the time to tell the public who is good. We help donors (at UCF). We help people make good philanthropic decisions. We can also help nonprofits get in front of donors” with their message, Fraser added.
“If you are building the new performing arts center in Davis County, we can help get the word out,” assist in finding donations, she said.
The UCF can hold endowments in trust for various small foundations, as well.
Fraser sees the UCF as particularly vital right now as many nonprofit organizations are struggling, due to the down economy and donations typically down.
She emphasized the UCF has donor advisers throughout the state, attuned to needs and concerns in local regions, including Davis County. The group is also on the lookout for volunteers from all of those local regions to help get the word out.
For more information about the foundation, visit www.utahcf.org/ or call 801-559-3005.