A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

How a Small Foundation Leverages State and County Expertise

Before becoming executive director of a small foundation in Binghamton, NY, Catherine Schwoeffermann worked in a museum as a cultural anthropologist and curator of folk arts. While at the museum, she also served on grants panels at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in Washington, DC, and at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in New York City.

When Catherine joined the Stewart W. and Willma C. Hoyt Foundation in Binghamton as executive director 14 years ago, she maintained her relationships with NEA, NYSCA, and the arts field in general. And, given that the Hoyt Foundation’s mission and vision included serving the arts community in Broome County, NY, Catherine and the Hoyt Foundation board of directors began to assess arts activities in the region served by the Hoyt Foundation. They also began to consider potential partnerships that could help to build the capacity of the local arts scene while also building the Hoyt Foundation’s capacity to serve the community.

Over time, Catherine and the Hoyt Foundation developed two very effective collaborative partnerships that leverage both funding and knowledge and expertise on all sides: one with NYSCA’s Decentralization Program and its regional Decentralization partner, the Chenango Arts Council; and one with the Broome County Arts Council and its annual United Cultural Fund Campaign.

“All parties involved in the collaborative partnership with the Hoyt Foundation, says Catherine, “including the New York State Council on the Arts, the two County Arts Councils, the numerous large and small local arts organizations, and the community at large, are thrilled with the outcomes. These partnerships build Hoyt’s own capacity exponentially, to better serve our community more effectively and efficiently, and to expand the reach of our funding.

It is all about leveraging one’s capital in a positive way.”

Both partnerships make use of the funding redistribution structures that have long been in place at each arts council. The Hoyt Foundation annually gives funds to each local arts council, and it, in turn, redistributes those funds, along with decentralization funds from NYSCA and other funders, to arts organizations through a well-vetted and effective grants panel process and procedure.

The collaborative partnership between the Hoyt Foundation, the NYSCA Decentralization Program, and the Chenango Arts Council has enabled the Hoyt Foundation to indirectly support small and emerging Broome County arts organizations through the vehicle of umbrella funding given annually to the Chenango Arts Council, which, in effect, matches NYSCA’s Decentralization funding. Likewise, the collaborative partnership between the Hoyt Foundation and the Broome County Arts Council’s United Cultural Fund Campaign has enabled the Hoyt Foundation to indirectly support the major Broome County arts organizations through umbrella funding given annually.

Senior Program Director Andy Carroll writes resources, designs workshops, and facilitates seminars for funders. Andy has 25 years of experience in nonprofit organizations, and he enjoys talking with funders about their questions, interests, passions, and plans for making a difference.  

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