From the Editor

March 20, 2008




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From the Editor






From the Editor archives:



April 2008:


March 20, 2008: Small Deeds Matter


February 1, 2008: "Anticipating Super Tuesday"


January 20, 2008: "What's in a Name"


December 18, 2007:  "The Story of Stuff"


October 8, 2007:  Collaboration: Doing More with Less


September 7, 2007:  Winds of Change


August 1, 2007:  A Way to Collaborate


July 12, 2007: Laying a Foundation


June 4, 2007:  Let the Turf Wars Begin


May 1, 2007:  Building Lives


March 27, 2006: Opportunity Expo, May 1, 2006, Cape Cod Community College


March 14, 2006:  Ideas on Sustaining Cape Cod's Water and Open Space


February 23, 2005:  Sustaining a Volunteer Center


February 7, 2005: The Pulse of Progress at Cape Corps


December 2004:  Volunteering to Sustain Cape Cod


October 2004:  The World Series


May 2004:  The Cape Cod Center for Sustainability Brokers Successful Partnerships among the Cape's Nonprofits  


April 2004:  Building the Wealth of the Cape


August 2003:  A Knuckleball of an Idea





Main Street, Bourne, and Buzzards Bay

Small Deeds Matter

Small deeds matter, and, in their aggregation, significant accomplishments result. The history of the Cape Cod Community College Educational Foundation exemplifies this notion. It's a history that pertains not only to the college and its educational role but also to other priorities that relate to our quality of life on Cape Cod and the Islands. The establishment and subsequent development of the college's Educational Foundation are a wonderful example of how regional benefits accrue from individual contributions of time and resources. 

       Unique to this region as the only open-admission, post-secondary institution of higher learning, Cape Cod Community College's importance is greater than the educational and training services it provides. The college is a major employer. It hosts cultural and civic events that welcome any resident or visitor to the region. Its administrators, staff, and faculty reside throughout the Cape and connect the college directly with the concerns and priorities of each of our fifteen towns. Its board members reside both on the Cape and off. Their networks extend beyond the region and help link the college to the priorities and resources of the Massachusetts Commonwealth.

       And supplementing these efforts for the past twenty-five years is a separate foundation that was founded at a time when financial and other limitations constrained the college's ability to fulfill its educational mission. At that time, it was uncommon for a private foundation to raise funds for a public institution. Taxpayers perceived inaccurately that the state's tax revenues sufficiently funded its operations. Actually, the college derived nearly half of the revenue it needed then. Today the college generates 56 percent of the revenues it needs to fund its operations.

       In getting started, the foundation set some small, attainable goals. Its first campaign raised money to buy computers that the college needed to carry out its educational and job training purposes. Surprising as it may seem, although the computer age was well established by the early 1980s, equipment manufacturers had not made any effort to connect with community colleges as they had in the 1970s with four-year institutions.

       In the 1970s, Apple Inc. and other computer manufacturers made extensive "in-kind" donations to four-year colleges across the country as a calculated and essential component of their overall marketing plans. In overlooking community colleges as a part of this effort, they missed an opportunity to connect with students who, on average, were in their late twenties, working to earn a living, supporting a family, and returning to school to improve their job prospects and earnings potential. The students, predominantly female, worked in offices in clerical positions where they had every opportunity to influence the purchasing decisions of their employers about new innovations in the computer field. As this oversight related to the Educational Foundation, it had to raise money to buy equipment that computer manufacturers were giving away to four-year institutions.

       In addition to raising money to buy equipment, the new foundation solicited contributors to establish scholarships, and over these past twenty-five years, the level of scholarship giving has grown dramatically. The foundation has added each individual's small deed to those of others and now provides roughly $400,000 each year to support student scholarships. And because the college's students continue to work outside the school to support themselves, these funds effectively also benefit local employers as the skills of their employees expand and keep pace with technological innovations and developments.

       Compared to solicitations to fund scholarships, asking donors to fund administrative and operational costs is a tough sell. Yet these are the costs that are the quickest to change and the most difficult to predict. Fluctuating energy costs, rising health care costs, unforeseen emergencies, and even opportunities to retain or attract desirable employees are uses for which funding reserves would provide not only operational strength but also strategic advantage.

       Despite the inherent resistance of prospective donors to give for these purposes, the Educational Foundation successfully tackled these fund-raising challenges. Nantucket resident Grace Grossman headed a fund-raising campaign to support the college's faculty and staff when recessionary pressures in the late 1980s drastically reduced the state’s tax revenues and threatened extensive layoffs at the college. The "Save-Our-School" campaign not only raised funds; it also raised morale. And it raised morale not only within the college but also within the community as volunteers who participated in this campaign realized a "return value" separate from the dollar amount they raised in support of the college.

       Walter P. Pidgeon, author of The Universal Benefits of Volunteering: A Practical Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations, Volunteers, and Corporations (Wiley, 1997), defines "return value" by noting, “The benefit that volunteering provides has traditionally been thought of as the good works given by the individual to the nonprofit organization and the community. While this is and should remain the main reason for volunteering, there is another reward that is created—namely, that return value that the individual receives from the process. Return value has not been discussed a great deal, but most individuals who volunteer understand that they receive value in return for their volunteering, including the ‘great feeling’ that is received from helping others.”  

       “Return value” is not easy to quantify, but it's a concept of real worth that is reflected by the foundation's growth, especially in the expanding level of participation on its board and in its programs and events by individuals and companies across the Cape and Islands. The return value to these efforts includes team building, cohesion, employee pride, and the development of specific skills involved with the coordination and development of a fund-raising campaign.

       More recently, the foundation concluded a capital campaign that raised funds to build the Lyndon P. Lorusso Applied Technology Center. The small deeds and significant levels of commitment—represented by the donors, the foundation's board and staff members, the college's president Kathy Schatzberg, and the trustee chairperson Wendy Northcross—morphed into tangible bricks and mortar. This state-owned building is the first to receive certification for its Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design (LEEDS). This designation cemented the college's growing reputation not only as a national leader in “green” construction and the use of alternative energy, recycled materials, water conservation and “green” landscaping practices but also as an institution that embraces more broadly encompassing considerations of  "sustainability" that attend to improving the region's overall quality of life.

       And now, twenty-five years into its existence, the future possibilities and opportunities for the Cape Cod Community College Educational Foundation are ever increasing. This fall, it will sponsor an event that will look back on these and other small deeds. As it highlights many significant accomplishments, it will be easy to see that these expansive and far-reaching results were achieved one donation at a time. For each donor and every volunteer, Walter Pidgeon's concept of “return value” applies. No matter what capacity each of us has to contribute, each of us is fulfilled by the contributions we make.

       As we continue to support the foundation, or as we launch new efforts to address other regional priorities, the Cape Cod Community College Education Foundation is a good model to study and replicate. And as we do so, we should honor and recognize James Hall, the college's president in 1983 whose commitment to this college and to this region was the wellspring from which the Educational Foundation emerged. His action encouraged others to follow, and the cumulative total of the benefits derived is beyond measure. These are no small deeds.

Allen Larson

Editor of the Larson Report and president of the
Cape Cod Center for Sustainability