Community Services Fund (CSF) has quietly been connecting donors with agencies they love for more than 30 years. And changes are brewing.
Created in 1981, CSF is a coalition of 37 diverse nonprofit organizations, some of which provide services statewide. CSF raises money for its nonprofit members through workplace campaigns, primarily payroll deduction.
CSF is a unique workplace giving fund because of its focus on quality of life organizations. Most workplace giving funds have a particular focus, like human services or health care. Member organizations in CSF include human service and health care, but also many others focused on the arts, environment, education or advocacy.
Kiersten Hill, executive director of CSF, explains the value in offering diversity to workplace donors.
“Say I join my friends to eat lunch at a Mexican food restaurant. Even though I really want a hamburger, I don’t order one unless it is on the menu,” she says. “Adding Community Services Fund to a workplace campaign expands the menu. Employees have more options and more opportunities to donate to the organizations they really care about. Donors embrace the Community Services Fund philosophy of donor designation.”
CSF provides a unique funding stream for member charities.
“Donors who give at work are often new donors for nonprofits, and sometimes workplace donors give only at work,” Hill explains. “Community Services Fund exposes donors to new organizations that they might be unfamiliar with and connects nonprofits to new donors.”
Restructuring its board and rewriting bylaws
In the past 30 years, CSF has grown from four to nearly 40 agencies. Its bylaws stated that its board be made up of a representative from each agency.
“Having one board member from every agency worked great when we had four, fourteen or even twenty-four agencies,” Hill says. “But, as Community Services Fund has continued to grow, that structure no longer works. We need a board of directors that is appropriately sized for governance and oversight.”
So for the past two years, Hill guided the larger board through restructure discussions. Professional consultant Suzanne Tyrell and attorney Julie Karavas helped to formalize the process and craft all new bylaws.
Leading the effort, in part, was Abbigail Swatsworth, representing the member agency CenterPointe, a nonprofit addressing addiction and mental illness. Swatsworth’s term as board president ends June 30 as the new board takes effect.
Swatsworth explains the new board structure.
“Community Services Fund has chosen to greatly increase the number of community members participating on our governing board,” Swatsworth says. “The board will now primarily be business and community leaders, with a smaller number of member agency representatives and a Member’s Council for all member agencies.”
Adds Hill: “We believe that our member agencies and our community will benefit more under a board of our community's top-notch thinkers. I am so impressed with the caliber of people coming onto this board. We have recruited smart, thoughtful leaders, and I can't wait to see how Community Services Fund grows in the next couple of years.”
One of the new board members is John Guenzel of First Nebraska Trust Company. Guenzel is actually returning to service with the organization.
“I was involved with Community Services Fund in the late eighties, when it was just four agencies and no paid staff,” Guenzel recalls. “At that time we would use every resource available, including begging and bartering for things such as pledge card printing. I'm looking forward to coming back in and learning about the growth in the last twenty years, and I’m excited to see where we can go in future years.”
By bringing in members of the community as well as representatives from participating businesses, the organization’s leaders hope to provide the most benefit to businesses and their employees.
“Employees who donate have the joy of being part of their company's culture of philanthropy,” Swatsworth says. “It feels good to be part of something bigger than yourself!”
Hill agrees. “An organization with no current workplace giving program would want to start one with Community Services Fund, because it is a great employee benefit and can even boost employee morale. Offering payroll deduction for employees to support their favorite charities helps employees be invested in the success of their community.”
‘Cost of a cup of coffee’ theme brewing
The changes to the board structure aren’t the only changes “brewing.” CSF is gearing up for a new workplace campaign with a coffee theme that encourages new donors to think about the power that their cup of coffee holds.
“Whether they spend a dollar on a cup of black coffee or five dollars on a fancy coffee drink,” Hill says, “we are encouraging employee donors to think about what that small amount per day or week or pay period can do to help change their community for the better.”
Community Services Fund will host a community celebration later this summer. The community, former board members, founders, current agencies, new board members, worksites and supporters are invited to celebrate this transition of leadership.
Learn more about Community Services Fund or this upcoming event by signing up for its e-newsletter at CommunityServicesFund.org or “Like” its Facebook page.