CFO Stories

Affiliate Appreciation Conference offers opportunity to learn, recognize and grow

First post-pandemic gathering celebrates accomplishments of the CFO's 53 affiliate foundations and recognizes remarkable leadership to promote philanthropy across the region.

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Affiliate Appreciation Conference lived up to its name as a way to recognize its 53 affiliates, but also expressed how it felt to gather for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I love the Charles Dickens’ line: ‘It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times,’ because we have been through a lot as a region, as a country, as a world in these past two years,” said Brian Fogle, CFO President, in a welcome to affiliate representatives at the event on April 25. “But in the midst of a pandemic, we have done – you have done – all of us together, some amazing things.”

The work is evident in stories and lives affected throughout the region, but also through data: In 2021, the CFO crossed the half-billion-dollar mark in grants back out to the Ozarks.

“In one year, our assets grew 26 percent, and we went and surpassed the $400 million mark in total assets,” said Fogle. “Reflecting what you're doing each and every day – that’s an amazing thing, and thank you for that. We did it together.”

Those benchmarks are moments for celebration, but there is also much work still left to do.

Tools to help reach those goals were shared throughout the conference, starting with a keynote address from Kathryn Miree, below, a planned giving, endowment, and foundation management leader.

Her suggestions focused on how to have conversations that focus on meeting donors where they are. For her, a key realization – that it starts with truly listening to thoughts, needs and desires of donors – hit years ago when she began as a volunteer with United Way and made calls with the organization’s president.

“I love these conversations because I think they’re magic,” she said. “The donors are the ones who have taught me more about what I do than anybody else. What they want to accomplish, what motivates them, and where they are.”

The rest of the day focused on a number of opportunities to learn, share and compare notes, as well as more celebration of the good things happening throughout the region.

Alice Wingo, CFO vice president of affiliates, shared that 97 new Affiliate Foundation funds were opened from July 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022, and $16.9 million in grants have been awarded with two months left to go in the fiscal year.

She also noted a bigger number: Affiliate assets now total more than $141.8 million.

“We never take for granted that you all have the relationships in your communities,” Wingo said. “You know your folks there. You know the needs in your communities, and we are so appreciative of this model that the CFO put in place 29 years ago where we’re able to help you bring philanthropic resources into your communities.”

Wingo and Laurie Edmondson, CFO Board vice-chair, had the honor of recognizing affiliate milestones, which was followed by table-talk sessions featuring Innovative Community Collaboration, Transfer of Wealth/Legacy, Partnering with Schools, and Making the Most of Your Grantmaking.

Similar themes were expanded upon in the afternoon, when participants rotated through break-out sessions to learn about:

  • Communications/Social Media, focusing on the importance of having clear goals and a plan to meet them based on social media, a local media strategy, and utilizing resources from the CFO.
  • Leadership Recruitment/Retention, about being proactive to grow the next generation of leaders in a community.
  • Development & Legacy Giving, which reinforced working with professional advisors to open funds and to focus on planned gifts.
  • Inclusive Excellence, offering reminders of the importance of ongoing, evolving consideration of all stakeholders; appropriate use of clarity in language; equity mindedness; equitable practices and policies; and pervasive system-wide principles.

The afternoon concluded with an awards presentation for CFO Board Members of Excellence, as well as the Stanley Ball Award and the Fred Lemons Achievement Award.

The Stanley Ball Award was presented to Ross Richardson, below, president of the Houston Community Foundation, by Patty Johns, vice president & senior relationship manager with Central Trust, which manages the Stanley Ball Foundation. Ball was the first president of the CFO’s first affiliate foundation in Nixa.

The Fred Lemons Achievement Award went to Jack Muench, below, a longtime board member and past president of the Aurora Area Community Foundation. The award was created to honor outstanding leadership modeled by Fred Lemons, the 15-year president of the Lockwood Community Foundation.

Five Affiliate leaders were honored as CFO Board Members of Excellence:

  • Deanna Hendrich, Truman Lake Community Foundation
  • Greg Hoffman, Nevada/Vernon County Community Foundation
  • Ron Kraettli, Community Foundation of the Hermann Area, Inc.
  • Stacy Pyrtle, Community Foundation of the Lake
  • Frank Robinson, Perry County Community Foundation

    By Kaitlyn McConnell, writer in residence for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

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