The El Dorado Community Foundation is moving up in the world — both figuratively and physically. The foundation which began in 1990 to help community members make the most of their charitable giving is the recipient of a commercial building at 312 Main St. in Placerville that houses seven commercial businesses, including Zia’s Gelateria and Dedrick’s Cheese.
“Two incredibly generous donors who want to remain anonymous gifted us with the building,” said EDCF Executive Director Bill Roby. “It comes with responsibilities though — now we’re landlords.”
The foundation plans to sell the 900-square-foot house on Cedar Ravine where it has been located for 22 years. The income from the commercial rentals in the new building are in the range of $80,00 and will put the foundation in a position of self-sustainability for the first time.
“We’re defying all the odds in this economy by growing. We’re like the ‘Little Foundation that Could,’” said Pam Hagen, the foundation’s community relations coordinator. “Moving from a little house to a commercial building is like the way the foundation has grown, from starting with nothing to being established community leaders.”
“We started with a vision of what this foundation could achieve and with the full partnership of our present and past board of directors and our donors, we’re grateful that we’ve achieved and even exceeded many of our goals,” said Roby. “We’ve evolved as the county has evolved. We’ve been able to anticipate the needs and put into place resources, people and services to meet them. While other foundations and non-profits are struggling in this economy, we are actually growing because of the generosity of our donors.”
The EDCF is a permanent endowment foundation that gives charitable donors the opportunity to pool resources to support charitable causes and organizations. Since 2008 the foundation has put more than $2 million back into the community through grants throughout the entire county, including South Lake Tahoe.
“Probably every person in the county has been affected by EDCF without even knowing it,” said Roby.
The list includes: scholarships to school field trips, art projects, literacy programs, senior peer counseling, the Veterans Memorial, theater performances to youth programs, the Women’s Fund El Dorado which does grants of its own, Endowment El Dorado, Field of Interest grants, Individual Donor Advice Funds and Endowment South Lake Tahoe.
“Rather than open their own foundation, which is complicated and expensive, donors can get more bang for their buck by pooling resources,” said Hagen. “When they endow here, the principal stays in place and we use the income from it for the grants. With the low interest rates, some people aren’t seeing anything happening in their savings accounts, so if they give to the community they can see results and have an impact now.”