by Nancy Anthony
When John Kirkpatrick created the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 1969, he spelled community with a capital C because he wanted it to involve everyone. To him, it didn’t matter whether donations were large or small. What mattered was that the entire community was united in their support because those are the communities that are strongest.
We’ve accomplished many things during my 38-year tenure at the OCCF, but when I step down as president at the end of June, I will take the greatest pride in the fulfillment of our founder’s vision.
An average of 3,000 donors give to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation every year. Those donations vary in size, and they even vary in shape. In addition to monetary gifts, donations come in the form of stocks, bonds, real estate and even oil wells from time to time.
We love the fact that so many are participating in the OCCF’s commitment to making a difference in so many ways. The OCCF supports more than 370 charitable organizations, ranging from the Mary Abbot Children’s House to the El Reno Blessing Basket and Oklahoma FCA. Our funds support the arts, medical research, public parks, wellness initiatives and many other interests.
Through our charitable organization endowment funds, we generate a combined $12 million annually. Each fall, money is disbursed to these organizations with no strings attached or fundraising campaigns required. They just stop by the Community Foundation and can pick up their checks. That’s the power of community.
OCCF’s scholarship program has had an equally dramatic impact. Each year the Community Foundation provides more than 200 scholarships worth nearly $3 million to some 800 students from a variety of backgrounds. This program has gained momentum over the past 53 years, driven by donors who value higher education and want to pass the gift of learning to the next generations. Their generosity has resulted in the largest collection of private scholarships in the state.
There is truly something for everyone, but if a donor has an interest that is not already on our list, they can establish a new fund, and we’ll manage it for them.
When I arrived at the OCCF in 1985, we had $19 million in assets, and I honestly believed that if we could reach $100 million, that would be an accomplishment. Today, the Community Foundation’s holdings have grown to more than $1.5 billion, which proves Mr. Kirkpatrick’s vision.
But our founder had a challenge on his hands in 1969. Traditional foundations were established for the wealthy, and most weren’t aware of how community foundations worked, but after some years of persistence, people began to realize the OCCF is not a typical foundation. To contribute, all you need is a vision for how you want to help the community. After that, any gift makes a difference, and if you don’t believe it – just look at how far we’ve come.