March 4, 2014
Faith Boettger
Growing up in Northern Virginia, my parents consistently reinforced that it was our responsibility and great honor to help others in our community. I have tried to live true to their example, make a difference wherever my travels took me, and pass this lesson along to my own children.

Recently I was asked to draw on my philanthropic passion to participate on the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s 2014 grant review committee. Having managed charity projects with volunteers and no money from the benefitting organization, I thought this process would be “easy”. We have money. 138 organizations have asked for money. How hard could this be?

“To give away money is an easy matter in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.” — Aristotle (Ethics, 360 BCE)

Diverse Perspectives: The men and women of the Health, Mental Health and Aging Committee represented a broad range of experience and expertise. I was surrounded by experts in healthcare issues, Northern Virginia not-for-profits, grant writers, and donors. With my background in financial services and projects to benefit children, was I on the right committee?

Engaged Discussion: In a perfect world, a problem would be analyzed by a variety of people with different ideas all working together to reach a conclusion. Washington should take note on our process! We were facilitated by knowledgeable staff and worked together to debate and discuss, assign limited resources and solve problems – all in the course of a few hours.

Community Needs: Our committee evaluated a wide range of proposals serving the health, mental health and aging needs of Northern Virginia. I wish we could fund them all. Our mission was to ensure that recommended projects made an impact. As a former banker, identifying the highest return on investment was easy – break out the old HP12C! Evaluating grant requests relied on an analysis of need, expected outcomes, existing and proposed collaborations, management qualifications, legislative changes,and more. The committee’s different perspectives and opinions allowed us to live true to the Community Foundation's mission and ensured we covered the full range of health, mental health and aging issues in our community.

Make a Difference: At the end of day, I truly believe that the decisions our grant review committee made will make a difference. We not only provided funding to the organizations approved for grants but also provided feedback to all who participated in the process.

I look forward to seeing the difference our grants will make in my community.

For a list of all the 2013-2014 Community Investment Fund grants, click here.