Experts on New York CitySlutsky says that through the NYCT, she and her team create something that is greater than the sum of individual donors' causes. "Our goal is to focus on the community," she says, and points out that this focus on the Greater Metropolitan Area of New York is accomplished by providing donors with a skilled, consistent staff and board to ensure their donations are spent wisely. Slutsky says that the foundation has about 2,700 individual charitable trusts that aggregate to the foundation's endowment, of which there are about 2,000 living donors.
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Collaborating across the city
That collaboration extends to donors of all kinds, teamwork that's rare in the philanthropic world. Because of the "deeper bench of staff," the NYCT can be "a great partner for small family foundations, individual donors, even large national foundations who don’t have a strong local presence in our community," says Slutsky. "We can collectively come together, garner more resources than any of us individually could." One example of such a partnership is the Donors’ Education Collaborative, a joint grantmaking effort of a number of New York funders that Slutsky says was created in the 1990s to collectively address public education. Since its creation, a number of foundations have come together to invest more than $14 million in projects that "combine constituency building, policy research and development, advocacy, media campaigns, negotiation, and organizing to achieve reform," according to the NYCT website.
Tackling unpopular issuesPhilanthropists are often in the position to tackle change what others can't—or won't. Such is the case for The New York Community Trust. While some organizations rely on "on the spot" generosity to fund work, the NYCT can rely on its endowment to focus on what matters most—even when that focus is unpopular. For example, when AIDS was still considered a disease that did not have mainstream relevance, the NYCT applied funds that had been entrusted in the 1940s to work on cures for blood diseases. "And AIDS," says Slutsky, "is fundamentally a blood disease."
"You can't be an effective community foundation trying to respond to community problems if you only respond to the ones that everyone agrees are OK," says Slutsky.