In the world of private foundations, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) is rather unique. When studying and working in this space, you’ll often hear the words, “If you know one foundation, you know one foundation.” That is especially accurate for TPF.

For one, TPF doesn’t have a grantmaking cycle. Instead, it invests long-term in people, organizations, and communities in ways that foster wide participation. TPF creates initiatives focused on an “all are welcome” approach where discovering shared aspirations is combined with best practices. Change happens at the speed of trust, CEO Debra Jacobs explains.

One organization that has bought into TPF’s model and way of working is Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity (CCHH). Led by CEO Mike Mansfield, CCHH’s vision is a world where everyone has a place to live, and they work diligently to make that happen in Charlotte County. As the need grows in different ways, CCHH has learned to adapt, change, and innovate through its own ingenuity. It has also participated in nearly all TPF initiatives relevant to its own work over the past eight years.

The partnership between CCHH and TPF began with an Encore Fellow in 2013, only three years after TPF was created., the national organization, coordinates Encore Fellows who are retirees from for-profit companies (many come from Intel) looking for a next step in the nonprofit sector. They spend 1,000 hours in one year working with a nonprofit and contribute their many years of skills and expertise to the nonprofit’s work. The nonprofit provides the Fellow a way to give back to community. Some retire fully after their year, and some continue to work in the nonprofit sector. As part of TPF’s Collaborative Partnering initiative, led by then TPF consultant Pam Truitt, several Encore Fellows were connected and placed in the Suncoast region. One of the first Suncoast Encore Fellows was matched with CCHH, where he worked to strengthen CCHH’s building process.

Soon after, CCHH participated in the Legacy of Valor initiative, which brought people together across the region to honor veterans and their service by helping local veterans through a veterans home repair program. They also participated in the Harwood Institute’s Public Innovators Lab and explored collaborative partnerships with other Habitats in the region.

Eventually, the second Encore Fellow was matched with CCHH and worked on marketing, distribution, and shipping and receiving. After that, CCHH participated in Margin & Mission Ignition (MMI) in 2015 and 2016, which helped them to build and strengthen their resale stores. Then a third Encore Fellow joined the team to develop processes, procedures, and logistics to expand the stores based on what they learned from MMI.

In 2020, CCHH volunteered to participate in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Electives course, “The Future of the Philanthropic Sector: Experiential Learning with The Patterson Foundation,” to discuss earned-income possibilities, and was paired with No Margin, No Mission (NMNM) consultant Larry Clark and one student – none other than incoming TPF Fellow Connor LaGrange!

Following that was participation with NMNM consultant Mike Oxman and TPF Fellow John Ferguson in Advancing Mission Thrivability, which helped CCHH brainstorm new ways to supplement event revenue during COVID-19.

Then, Mansfield reached out to TPF about securitizing CCHH mortgages. Through a partnership with CCHH, TPF, and Northern Trust, TPF bought $1 million in CCHH mortgages to provide liquidity to boost affordable homes for people in Charlotte County.

And now, in 2021, CCHH has participated in HundredX, and grown the capacity of its marketing work while earning money. It has welcomed its fourth Encore Fellow, who will help manage projects and logistics, and source important supply materials to continue building affordable housing. CCHH also has participated in every focus group and information session about new and possible TPF initiatives and projects, adding its clear voice and candid thoughts to discussions.

So why share this? Well, it has to do with finding fresh opportunities of operating. Mansfield and his team creatively and innovatively think of new ways to reach and serve more people and grow new and existing programs. For example, when CCHH wanted to institute a Cleanout and Removal program, it recognized that MMI and comprehensive business planning could help it do so. When their team wanted to brainstorm creative ways to address loss of event revenue, they participated in the Advancing Mission Thrivability consulting sprint. Now that they want to grow the number of houses they build this year from 30 to 35 (and sustain that number over the coming years), they have connected with TPF to securitize the mortgages and earn more revenue through HundredX. Mansfield explained that the next Encore Fellow will focus on supply chain and logistical management, necessary for finding sustainable solutions when housing supply costs increase and an organization wants to build more houses.

So, this is an extensive background. But I wanted to explain the “what” and “when” behind Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity’s collaboration with The Patterson Foundation. In the next post, I’ll dive into the “why” and “what it takes.” A hint at what’s to come – it involves two essential qualities necessary for any strong relationship between a traditional nonprofit and a foundation: leadership and trust.

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