Three years ago, another funder said to me, “You guys are worthless. You’re trying to satisfy so many people with such disparate charitable interests that your impact is diluted. Your grants don’t make a significant impact on anybody. Rather than give grants of $12,000 to 1,000 different organizations, you should be giving 100 grants of $120,000 – or better yet, give grants of $1.2 million to 10 organizations. You’re a pathetic example of the good that philanthropy can do.
We absolutely know for sure that small grants can make a big difference. There are thousands of examples, but how about this one? In 2006, when Elizabeth Tarrant Anderson was 17, she recommended a grant of $500 to underwrite a website for a new non-profit organization hardly anyone had heard of back then – Pattison’s Academy – now acclaimed as one of the most valuable programs in the Lowcountry for children with multiple disabilities, and recently approved as a Charter School.
The Board and staff of Coastal Community Foundation decide how to spend our time, but recommendations for how we spend our money comes from the community we serve – from our donors who have their own charitable agendas and want us to help them to achieve them, and from volunteer grant review committees whose combined wisdom has never let us down. Every grant we make, whether it’s for $500 or $500,000, is the result of deep thought by a donor or by a Committee charged with honoring donors’ charitable priorities.
Whether it’s a gift in a box with a bow or a charitable gift, its value is usually directly proportional not to the dollar value, but to the thought that went into it.