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By David Little

Happy New Year. Hopefully you are enjoying a peaceful day with few demands, because it’s a perfect day for contemplation. There’s likely no other day of the year when people do so much thinking, reminiscing about the year just passed and wondering about the year to come.

In fact, the entire week after Christmas is like that for me. The gridlock on the streets ends. People chill out. Nights are cold, quiet and long. There is plenty of time to think.

At work last week, I pondered the year we had. It was busy. It was fulfilling. It was harried but never uncomfortably so, because the work is so important.

We entered our fourth year of approving Camp Fire grants and are approaching $50 million in grants awarded. We closed out our grants for the Bear Fire by earmarking the rest of the money for survivors in the case management system. At the same time, we opened another fund and grant program for the Dixie Fire, which wracked Plumas and Lassen counties.

We provided help for nonprofit organizations, public agencies and businesses for COVID-19 response. Then Aaron Rodgers ramped that up considerably when he opened a fund here to help small businesses hamstrung by the pandemic. Soon he was making donations to NVCF on “Jeopardy!” and made-for-TV golf matches with Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.

We started a teenage suicide prevention and mental health initiative and, as part of it, launched the CARE Team to connect young people who need help with professionals who can provide it.

We teamed with Glenn County to help provide water for those whose wells have gone dry in the drought.

The more we take on, always in the interest of helping, the more I hear people in the community say, “I didn’t realize you do so much.”

So as we start another trip around the sun, we know the year will be predictably unpredictable. We also know that we will jump in to help and we’ll feel fortunate we’re in a position to do so, all thanks to generous donors who make it all possible.

North Valley Week of Giving helps
people donate to dozens of local causes

The second annual North Valley Week of Giving was a success on many levels, starting with the bottom line: Nearly $100,000 was raised by 78 community philanthropic organizations.

North Valley Week of Giving, organized by North Valley Community Foundation, is a collaborative effort of local charitable organizations and projects. It starts on Giving Tuesday, which is a nationwide online fundraising effort on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. North Valley Week of Giving is an NVCF invention that starts on Giving Tuesday, lasts a week and pools the fundraising efforts of organizations in Butte, Glenn, Tehama and Colusa Counties.

North Valley residents were again in a giving mood. A total of $91,671 was raised during the week.

Logan Todd, vice president of grant programs and client services at NVCF, said the success of the second annual event was largely due to continuity. More than half of the participating organizations also signed up for the first North Valley Week of Giving, so they weren’t starting from scratch.

A new feature this year for participants was NVCF’s partnership with Classy, an online fundraising platform for nonprofits.

“It made for more sophisticated donation pages and allowed participants to do more online storytelling,” said Todd. “That can especially help small nonprofits that don’t have large followings on social media learn to connect with a larger audience and learn effective ways to tell their stories to perhaps new people.”

NVCF staff members hosted eight webinars before, during and after the event to train participants in how to use Classy and to share ideas on reaching donors, especially through social media.

“We got positive reviews from participants and donors,” said Todd. “The first North Valley Week of Giving was a success, but this was a different kind of success. I think it did surpass our expectations in year two. 

“This gives us a lot of hope and encouragement that North Valley Week of Giving provides a valuable service to the community. We introduced some new tools this year to make it better, and hopefully it’ll get better every year.”

The Week of Giving team is already thinking of the third annual event. The first internal planning meeting of the NVCF team for Week of Giving 2022 is later this month.
Jennifer Dye of Center for Healthy Communities picks up a check at NVCF for money raised by the organization during North Valley Week of Giving.


Each month, we interview a member of the NVCF family. This month’s interview is with Carolyn Engstrom, our client care manager.

NVCF has nearly 500 funds and you work with them all. Is there a common thread that connects the funds?

The funds cover a variety of types including charitable impact funds, scholarship funds, donor-advised funds, nonprofit marketing funds, and there is absolutely a common thread or theme amongst them: Hope. There is an idea that something can be born, or supported, or remedied, or even eradicated. There is a trust and a belief that something can be made different. An individual or a group figures out what they can't stand in the world and stands there. One of my favorite memories is the day that one of our fund advisors signed the contract agreement for their new fund and asked to have their picture taken. She said, "I never want to forget the day that my dream of helping others came true!” Yep. I cried. 

Once a fund is opened, how much does the client care manager work with each fund and fund advisor?

Once a fund is opened, a process that involves collaboration between several folks, the fun part really begins! I work alongside the fund advisors, who are almost always those original dreamers, to help them along the path of their work. Often I act as a liaison between them and our digital content creators — ensuring that this new fund has a presence on our website to gather donations and an opportunity to have its origin story told on our social media  — or our finance team members, who actually do the work of recording donations and distributions. The advisors learn how to use our online Client Portal, where they can keep an eye on their fund's financial activity in real time. I will also assist them as they prepare for fundraising activities, by keeping tabs on everything from making sure proper insurance is in place for their venue, and that everything is handled within the scope of the legal and tax guidelines established for nonprofits. 

Some of these funds have been in existence for a long time, and many of them sponsor events. Can you give an example of a successful event that has been going on for a long time?

A very popular way for funds to both get their story told in our community and raise much-needed money to do that very real work involved in their cause is to host an event. One of the longest-running events held by one of our funds is Walk, Woof, Wag, a benefit for the Chico Animal Shelter. This fall event is wildly popular with those with two or four legs. NVCF tends to attract a number of funds dedicated to the health and care of animals, especially as they can't help themselves. Pleasant Valley High School Safe and Sober Grad night's event is run through us as well — and you would be hard put to find a group of more dedicated parents than the ones that show up year after year to celebrate one of the milestones in their children's lives. 

Are there trends among the types of new funds that people want to open?

Our community has faced, and continues to work through, a variety of disaster-related issues these past three years. Understandably, many of the funds opened here at NVCF have been related to this vital recovery work. What is really kind of cool to see, however, is that “hope” concept popping up, again. We've had to tuck our heads down and take care of essential needs, and will absolutely continue to do so, but are now seeing the cycle coming back to tending to all of the parts that make us human. I really think this next year, especially, will find us circling back to rediscovering how we can each support what is going on with the arts, with education, with our outdoors, with each other. And how best we can join together to take good care of each other.

Butte Strong Fund approves $460,000
for community development projects

The Butte Strong Fund awarded 10 grants totaling $460,000 for organizations doing community development projects in the Camp Fire burn area.

The grants, between $25,000 and $50,000 apiece, are designed to augment efforts to help build or rebuild community landmarks and gathering places. The grants will boost such venues as the Honey Run Covered Bridge, Paradise Performing Arts Center, Paradise Community Center, Concow Pool and the Paradise Branch Library.

Read more about the 10 grants here.

New funds at NVCF

Michael Smith Salmon Water Endowment Fund: The primary purpose of the fund is to establish a permanently endowed fund that provides an ongoing 5% annual distribution of the fund balance at June 30 each year to Friends of Butte Creek for as long as the fund and organization exists. All fund distributions shall first be utilized for annual Water Master fees charged by the California Department of Water Resources. Any distribution amount that exceeds the fees may be utilized for the general operations of Friends of Butte Creek. Learn more or donate.

Getting social

Each month we highlight our post on social media that was viewed by the most people. This post announcing a grant to the Butte County Library that will allow the Paradise Branch to expand its hours of operation was seen by 3,583 people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Hot links

Here are a few of our favorite news stories last month that cover what we do. Click the headlines to read the stories:

Beloved welcome sign returns to Paradise (Action News Now) 
Foundation grants remaining funds for North Complex Fire (Plumas News)
Concow nonprofit receives $23K from North Valley Community Foundation to expand its tool shed for survivors (Action News Now)
Butte Strong Fund grants $460K toward Camp Fire recovery (Chico E-R) 

Community Center on its way back in Paradise after being awarded a $40,000 grant (Action News Now)

Volunteer organizations put on holly jolly Christmas event for fire survivors (Chico E-R)
Tiny Pine warehouse offers discounts for fire survivors (Chico E-R)
New community park coming soon to Magalia (KRCR)


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Parting shot

Sometimes we all need a reminder of the beauty around us. This is upper Bidwell Park, after a December rainstorm added some greenery to the parched hills. (Photo by Patrice Berry)
Copyright © 2022 North Valley Community Foundation, All rights reserved.

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