Maddy Metzger-Utt, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, talked recently at the organization’s Everett offices about the mission of the nonprofit. The foundation that promotes charitable giving has changed its name to reflect a focus on the entire county. In 2001, eight local families made large donations to create the foundation, including the Nysether family seen in one of the photos on the wall behind Maddy. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Community Foundation: New name, same critical mission

This is part of The Daily Herald’s annual report on charity in Snohomish County. Complete list of stories

EVERETT — The change came nearly a year ago. It was last October when an organization that helps charitable people support area nonprofit groups announced its new name — the Community Foundation of Snohomish County.

While the name is new, the foundation’s mission has been decades in the making.

It was 1993 when the Everett Parks Foundation was started as a way for local donors to contribute to parks projects. Soon, generous families were looking beyond the parks for ways to help.

By 2001, a Founders’ Campaign had raised a $2 million operational endowment to start the Greater Everett Community Foundation. Contributing to the campaign were eight local families, the foundation’s founders. They were: the Newland Family Fund for Giving, Phil Johnson, John and Idamae Schack, the Bargreen family, the Nysether Family Foundation, the Don and Joyce Tisdel Family Fund, the Roy and Ann Thorsen family, and the Harry and Jeanne Metzger family.

Maddy Metzger-Utt, one of the Metzgers’ daughters, is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Snohomish County, formerly the Greater Everett Community Foundation. At the organization’s offices in downtown Everett last month, Metzger-Utt talked about the name change and new ways the foundation is helping.

From that $2 million beginning, the foundation now has more than $13 million in investments. Metzger-Utt said earnings from the diversified portfolio, which is overseen by investment managers, provide about $1 million in grants each year to arts organizations, schools, libraries, health and human services groups, and other nonprofit entities.

The amount available for annual grants is expected to grow with the investment earnings, Metzger-Utt said.

Today, the Community Foundation of Snohomish County acts as the umbrella for 110 charitable funds started by families, individuals, businesses and nonprofit groups. There are administrative and investment fees, about 2 percent depending on the types of funds started with the foundation, Metzger-Utt said.

“We don’t give out huge grants,” she said. Through the years, grants have helped homeless shelters, local arts organizations, writing programs in schools, and tree-planting projects.

Grant-making may be the foundation’s most visible goal, but Metzger-Utt said important work is also being done behind the scenes to strengthen local nonprofit groups.

The foundation provides consulting, training, and workshops including one helping nonprofits use Facebook for their benefit. Some nonprofits have been helped more by the training than by monetary grants, she said.

“We work with their volunteer board members and staff people. Not many nonprofit organizations have the luxury of that training,” Metzger-Utt said. “So there are two main focus areas. There are services to donors — managing their money for charitable purposes. The other side is support to nonprofits. We’re here to support people.”

The 2015 name change reflected the foundation’s goal of helping all over Snohomish County, not just in Everett.

“We were surprised that the old name was as big a barrier as it was,” Metzger-Utt said.

As part of the outreach, she has visited Rotary groups around the county to explain the organization’s efforts. “No one knows about us, but we’re trying to get the word out,” she said.

With the name change, the Community Foundation of Snohomish County also replaced an annual fund-raising breakfast in Everett with smaller gatherings in private homes. This year, gatherings of 30 to 40 people took place in Snohomish, Arlington, Lake Stevens and Everett. Next year, Metzger-Utt said, another four events are planned to tell the foundation’s story in other communities.

The foundation also has a “leader link” program that in essence plays matchmaker between nonprofits in need of board members and people interested in serving on boards, Metzger-Utt said.

“One of our big goals is to increase philanthropy in Snohomish County. Nonprofits touch so many people. They support families and the community,” Metzger-Utt said. She has heard people say they don’t have enough money to plan for charitable giving.

“They’ll say, ‘I don’t have a million dollars.’ But you don’t need a million dollars to help your community,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

Founding families

The Community Foundation of Snohomish County was created in 2001 as the Greater Everett Community Foundation. It grew from what started in 1993 as the Everett Parks Foundation. Eight local families donated to a Founders’ Campaign to raise a $2 million operational endowment to start the foundation:

The Newland Family Fund for Giving

Phil Johnson

John and Idamae Schack

The Bargreen family

The Nysether Family Foundation

The Don and Joyce Tisdel Family Fund

The Roy and Ann Thorsen family

The Harry and Jeanne Metzger family

Learn more about the foundation at:

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