Orcas Island Community foundation set to double grant amounts; conducts needs assessment

The Orcas Island Community Foundation is on target to double the amount of grants it facilitates this year.

So far in 2011, more than $550,000 in grants have been made, an 80 percent increase over the $310,000 distributed in 2010.

"During these stormy economic times, our island community has done what we always do, stepped up and pitched in, supporting neighbors in need by contributing to programs and projects such as the Food Bank building campaign, the School Building fund, and many more," said OICF director Hilary Canty. "In a recent survey of Washington State Community Foundations, OICF ranked first in both grants and in assets on an individual basis.  Our tradition of caring for each other is thriving.

This growth in funding inspired the Board of the Community Foundation to take a fresh look at grant-making opportunities.  The OICF Board also recognized that in order for the growing needs of the community to be met, current and thorough information on issues facing the community was needed.  The foundation’s goal is to develop a better understanding of what OICF can do and should be doing to help nonprofits and other organizations most effectively address those needs.

Over the past 18 months, OICF conducted a Community Needs Assessment, bringing together over 100 nonprofit and community leaders in eight sectors: arts and culture, early childhood, economy and transportation, education, environment, health, housing, and social services. Each group was asked to identify what was working well within their sector and which areas needed more attention. The meetings focused on reviewing accomplishments and voicing concerns rather than developing solutions. The discussions were lively and fruitful, says Canty.

"The information gathered will be used to identify ways in which our nonprofits, and possibly other organizations, can work together more efficiently and effectively to address our community’s most critical needs and best direct OICF’s, donors’ and community resources," she said.

Early on in the process, it became apparent that every sector felt communication could be strengthened.  In response, OICF has developed an island wide nonprofit and service directory, which is now online at This resource contains contact information for more than 109 service providers and programs working to support the island community, providing ready access to the full range of services in each sector.

The final needs assessment report will be presented at the upcoming Report to Community.   The OICF Board is reviewing the report as a key resource to focus future funding and programs. OICF recognizes that the needs assessment was a first step in an ongoing dialog on how to sustain a healthy and vibrant community.

The public is invited to attend The Report to Community luncheon on Friday, Sept. 23 at 11:30 a.m. at Rosario Resort’s Discovery House. A donation of $35 is requested to offset the cost of providing lunch. Contact OICF at 376-6423 to join the luncheon.

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