BCF was founded in 1953 by visionaries dedicated to helping children in Benton County, Oregon. Robert Johnson, then owner and publisher of the Corvallis Times, donated $1,000 to the newly minted charity. Mr. Johnson’s gift of $1,000 together with a gift from the Corvallis Rotary Club of $1,500 allowed the foundation to begin operating in 1954.
For the first sixty years, BCF was known as The Benton County Foundation. In 2014, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the foundation to Benton Community Foundation to better reflect the foundation’s role.
What is a community foundation?
Community foundations are grantmaking public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, clubs, secular and non-secular associations, and businesses to support effective charitable activities in their communities.
As a community foundation, BCF has four primary responsibilities:
1. Build and steward permanent community resources
From our humble beginning asset base of $2,500 in 1954, we now have net assets in excess of $21 million. About 63% of our net assets are endowed, meaning that only the income of the gift is expended for charitable purposes; the principal remains intact in perpetuity.
The Benton Community Foundation is also the only nationally accredited community foundation in the state of Oregon, which means we conform to the highest standard of financial responsibility, transparency, and sound governance.
2. Strive for excellence in donor service
BCF is your partner in philanthropy. We are always available to help you shape your giving strategy, learn more about issues facing our region, or simply to help you become more familiar with our local charities. By partnering with us, you have the opportunity to:
- Learn about emerging issues, trends, and best practices
- Closely examine the charities you wish to support
- Develop a plan to maximize the impact of your charitable giving
- Involve your family, friends, or co-workers
- Connect with fellow donors
- Enjoy simple, flexible, high-impact grant making without administrative responsibilities
- Grow your charitable funds through our pooled investment account
3. Increase our capacity as a convener, catalyst, and collaborator
BCF’s Board and staff are taking a more active role in in the leadership of collaborative, community-wide projects. In 2017, we launched the Homeless to Housing Community Initiative, which seeks to provide for the basic needs of children and families experiencing homelessness, as well as for the comprenhensive services that can move them up and out of poverty.
In June 2018, we brought four additional funders—The Collins Foundation, The Oregon Community Foundation, the Philomath Community Foundation, and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund—to Philomath High School, and along with representatives from 37 area nonprofits, we discussed how best we can collaborate on projects across Benton County.
4. Make an impact with community grants and scholarships
Since 1953, the Benton Community Foundation has invested more than $9 million in Benton County. In 2017, we disbursed more than $783,000 in grants and scholarships. So far in 2018, we have distributed more than $700,000. Our goal is to increase our annual grants to one million dollars by the year 2020.
For more information about who we are and what we do take a look at our Board of Directors and Staff pages. Explore Our Funds to learn more about the history of the funds and who they benefit in our community. If you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to stop by our office, give us a call at (541) 753-1603, or reach us by email!