Doing Good Right Here Giving to Brooklyn — Getting Results

When we started the Brooklyn Community Foundation late last year, we recognized that the economy was in dire straits and that the top priority for Brooklynites would not be opening their checkbooks to a new charity. But nine months later, the Brooklyn Community Foundation has made significant inroads in showing how philanthropy, large and small, can be effective — particularly during difficult times.

Thanks to the generosity of donors who have added to our existing funds from the historic Independence Community Bank, we have been able to reinvest nearly $3 million back to Brooklyn’s non-profit community. Ranging from investments in small local neighborhood projects to ambitious undertakings by larger, long-established Brooklyn organizations, our grants will assist more than 170 non-profits serving thousands of Brooklynites.

We recognize that the difficult economy means we all need to find new ways to survive and help others, so in addition to direct service grants, we have made it our goal to help our non-profit partners move from good to great through capacity building and technical assistance grants as well.

For example, our grant to the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Services has helped improve this historic human services organization's ability to track results for clients and help establish an outcome-oriented culture. Our funding to the Heights and Hill Community Council — an experienced non-profit taking on an expanded geographic and service role to Brooklyn’s seniors — helped the organization hire its first-ever development director.

And our gift to Green Guerillas, an organization that helps grassroots groups establish and maintain community gardens, helped provide technical assistance to community gardeners in Central Brooklyn to increase the quantity of their produce and to help garden leaders network more effectively.

It's one thing for us as a foundation to help great organizations build internal capacity. But how can the larger Brooklyn community get involved?

At a time when libraries are threatened financially, our grant to the Brooklyn Public Library matched dollar for dollar all contributions that seven southern Brooklyn branches got from the local community as part of their Save our Shelves campaign. Our grant to 826NYC, a volunteer-based after-school tutoring and creative arts program in Park Slope, challenged the organization to use our funding to increase its volunteer base and hours of volunteer service. Similarly, as the bike riding public in Brooklyn continues to expand, our grant to Transportation Alternatives’ Biking Rules safety campaign in Brooklyn challenges this vibrant organization not only to educate, but also to recruit and sign up 300 new Brooklyn members.

Hard times or not, we are eternally hopeful about the spirit of Brooklyn and in the tenacity of its community members. We want Brooklynites to recognize that by giving to the Brooklyn Community Foundation, anyone can tap into the power to do good in a large scale. By pooling our resources and choosing wisely, we can all be effective philanthropists. We can all do good.

To that end, as we gear up to celebrate the first anniversary of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, we are launching a borough-wide initiative to identify and give recognition to Brooklyn's most generous “Do Gooders” — those who have donated their time, their talent, their charity to Brooklyn. We will be searching the borough near and far for those exceptional individuals who are doing incredible things to make Brooklyn better, stronger and more livable.

We hope you'll join us and your fellow Brooklynites on the campaign to nominate and vote for your favorite “Do Gooder” in Brooklyn. Stay tuned to www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org for more details on how to join our campaign to “Do Good Right Here.”