Looking back, the 35th anniversary year at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation was exceptionally strong. Record levels of giving fueled increased grantmaking, amplifying our ongoing work in support of communities and nonprofits.
In 2022, BTCF granted more than $20 million to our region’s nonprofit organizations, aligning our work around the strategic priorities of educational attainment, community engagement, and economic opportunity — a figure that exceeds 2021 totals by 74 percent.
“These numbers are tangible evidence of investments in our communities and nonprofits that are changing lives,” said Maeve O’Dea, BTCF program director, pointing to grants that ensure students are connected to college and careers; residents have access to art, music, and creativity; and vulnerable families can remain in their homes, feed their children, and receive life-saving medical care.
Among the total funds disbursed into the community last year, $700,000 was awarded through scholarships; $300,000 fueled education and educational enrichment programs; over $600,000 provided emergency relief for those in need; more than $850,000 was directed by local area funds; and an impressive $7.3 million in grants were awarded to essential nonprofits — none of which would be possible without the continued support of donors throughout the region.
Since 1987, BTCF has granted over $225 million to local organizations. In the past five years alone, more than $76 million has been granted in support of a wide range of organizations and activities, including those addressing health and human services, education, arts, and civic engagement.
In 2022, gifts to and through the foundation were higher than in any prior year, totaling more than $26 million and representing a 45 percent increase in giving.
“Our gratitude for the generosity of donors runs deep,” said Chief Philanthropy Officer Kara Mikulich of individuals like Joan Osofsky, whose gift to BTCF's Jane Lloyd Fund helps support families living with cancer in northwest Litchfield County by providing day-to-day living expenses.
“Jane was a special young woman who I met through our common interest in knitting,” says Osofsky, who was touched by how Lloyd’s family and community rallied in support during her time of need. “The Jane Lloyd Fund represents her legacy and I give in her honor so others have the chance to be given the dignity and support they need to fight their battle with cancer. It's pure kindness, and that is what Jane would have wanted.”
Each year, BTCF also relies on gifts to the foundation’s Community Fund, our primary source of discretionary resources, to enable our staff to advance community leadership and respond to pressing issues. Additionally, donor advised funds allow individuals and families to make grants to their favorite nonprofit organizations. Last year, a new donor advised fund, the NFP Little Rest Fund, was established through a generous $10 million bequest from a longtime anonymous donor. In 2022 alone, that fund made grants of $6.25 million back into the community, via local nonprofits — continuing the donor’s legacy of generosity to initiatives such as BTCF’s Northeast Dutchess Fund and a scholarship fund that grew significantly as a result of the donor's philanthropy over time.
“BTCF fund holders are vital partners in our work,” says Mikulich of a banner year at BTCF — one that included the establishment of a record 25 new funds. Among those funds is the Peter W. Foote Memorial Scholarship, created in part by Joseph Ames to honor his best friend, a North Adams native and Vietnam Veteran who died in the line of duty in January 1968.
The annual award, given to an outstanding student-athlete, was handled by Drury High School for the first 55 years until Ames made a shift. “Every once in a while I’d have to do a fundraiser, and I didn’t want to bother folks for donations anymore,” he said, citing the biggest benefit to date of partnering with BTCF to manage the fund. “I was investing thousands, BTCF invests millions — giving us access to a professionally managed portfolio,” Ames said of the scholarship that will now be awarded in perpetuity.
Financial investments are another critical element of BTCF’s service to the community. Strong investment performance amid changing economic times is a hallmark of our program. Our long-term goal is to deliver returns that outperform the market in both up and down markets.
During 2022, the BTCF's endowment model Managed Pool outperformed industry and peer benchmarks, declining by 9.5%, compared to our policy benchmark, down 11.7%, and performing above the top quartile of US community foundations our size. By preserving assets during down markets, BTCF positions funds with more assets to grow when markets recover.
“The foundation’s collective success in 2022 reflects the generosity of our donors and the inspired leadership of our nonprofit community that works tirelessly to strengthen our communities, advance equity and economic opportunity, and meet the pressing needs of our neighbors,” said BTCF President Peter Taylor.
For more information about making an impact in your local community or opening a fund at BTCF, contact Chief Philanthropy Officer Kara Mikulich at firstname.lastname@example.org.