PJC In The News

Kreiger Fund and Fund For Change Give $750,000 Multi-Year Unrestricted Donation to the PJC

All money’s good, but some is even better

February 17, 2006
Special to The Daily Record

Betsy Nelson, executive director of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers
Any monetary donation is a welcome gift to a charitable organization, but most will tell you that receiving large operational contributions is like hitting the jackpot, and receiving them is as rare as winning the lottery.

When an organization does receive significant funds for operational support, those dollars are usually restricted to a particular project for a limited amount of time.
Though this model maximizes donor control of the project, it does little to strengthen the organization. Sadly, short-term, restricted funding may encourage short-term, restricted planning.

Organizations that rely too much on such funding often find themselves in a boom-and-bust cycle, sometimes losing experienced management and staff, and ultimately lessening organizational effectiveness.

Another model of giving emphasizes longer-term, unrestricted support of an organization. It empowers the organization to determine the best way to effect the social changes the donors want to see. This is demonstrated in a recent combined gift from the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund and the Fund for Change to the Public Justice Center. The multi-year, general operating grant of $750,000 is of historic proportions for both foundations and the PJC. The unrestricted nature of the gift offers the organization the flexibility to pursue its mission.

A gift of unrestricted money is larger than the cash value of the contribution. It is a donor’s vote of confidence in its partner organization’s demonstrated ability to pursue a shared goal.

The Fund for Change and the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund aim to enrich the lives of Baltimore citizens, and realize that the center is a crucial partner in making progress. The Public Justice Center has built a strong local and national reputation as it has demonstrated its ability to get results on behalf of groups of disadvantaged people such as homeless children, battered spouses, low-income tenants and prisoners.

They are widely recognized as a leader and coalition builder among peer organizations, an educator in the legislative arena, and a premier legal advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in the state and federal court systems.

“The real strength of the Public Justice Center is in its ability to engage in long-term systemic advocacy,” reflects John Nethercut, the organization’s executive director. “Our cases and projects often require lead time to investigate, develop, and implement an advocacy strategy. General operating gifts mean we can thoroughly develop winning strategies, and that we can sustain our work as long it takes to accomplish our goal.”
Foundation trustees had supported the work of the Public Justice Center with smaller, restricted project grants for a number of years and were pleased with the results. Because of this, they upped the ante.

“Real social change does not come overnight,” said Karen Kreisberg, executive director of both foundations. “As donors, we knew that we shared a vision of social change with the Public Justice Center, and just as importantly, we began to trust in them as a strong and effective partner in remedying the social issues that concern us,” Kreisberg continued. “This general operating gift tells the Public Justice Center that we believe they have what it takes to make an impact, and we will be there with them.”

Betsy Nelson, the executive director of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes this column, Charitable Giving, every other week for The Daily Record. The opinions expressed are her own. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or by e-mail.

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