Community Foundation of Greater Flint - Learning more about their BRIDGE journey

Tereza Litsa
Digital Engagement Manager
16 Sep 2022

We talked to Chakara Wheeler from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint to find out more about her work and her experience being part of the BRIDGE programme.

With funding from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we partnered with Women’s Funding Network and United Philanthropy Forum to form a BRIDGE cohort of 200 organisations working on racial equity and gender justice.

Let’s learn more about the organisation and their experience with the BRIDGE programme.

An introduction to the organisation

The Community Foundation of Greater Flint is a charity enabling people with philanthropic interests to easily and effectively support the issues they care about - immediately or through their will.

Established in 1988 through the merger of The Flint Public Trust, founded in 1950, and the Flint Area Health Foundation, created in 1978, the resulting Community Foundation combined the strengths of these two Flint institutions to position itself for future growth and giving. Since the merger, assets have grown from $10.6 million to more than $290 million. Over 10,000 contributors ranging from modest to magnificent means have enabled the Community Foundation to award more than $701,507 in grants to the greater Flint area from over 450 charitable funds.

The Community Foundation continues to help individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofit organisations achieve their charitable and financial goals by providing tools and resources that make giving easy, flexible and effective. Their goal is to connect people who care to the causes that matter to them and the community.

How do you currently use digital?

We currently use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We have good engagement for where we are –we are consistently gaining followers per week on our social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram). We typically get more likes and shares on posts than we get engagement through comments from our viewers. We have learned that our audience is viewing our posts and watching the videos we post from start to finish.

We also tend to get pretty good engagement and many shares when our audience recognises someone in the video, which is great because we weren’t getting it before I was in the BRIDGE programme so we’re still learning.

Your participation in the BRIDGE programme is ending soon. How was the experience for you?

I found the e-learning sessions very easy to access and I enjoyed the fact that I can learn at my own pace. There were times when I kind of slowed down, but I got back on track. I loved the digital drop-ins because they were always informative, resourceful, and with a lot of knowledge to be gained. I feel like you all put a lot of thought and intentionality into the sessions.

I also found the handouts and documents provided for sessions pretty useful, everything was easily accessible. I like the structure and layout of them; the boxes are easy to fill, you know where to go and how to get to what you need. I also enjoyed having a slide deck or some type of handout that I could always go back to, save, and use as a future reference. I truly enjoyed the Bridge Program and all the sessions included!

What are you taking away from the programme?

I think BRIDGE came at the perfect time for me because I was about a year in this role when I started the programme. I was managing various projects along with our social media platforms and developing and expanding our partnerships within the community.

One of the best resources provided by BRIDGE was the social media content calendar template. I'm a very organised person so it helped me a ton and I use it every single month with my communications team. I just love it and I love the setup of it. We didn't always use the social media breakdowns that you all had in the template so we kind of changed it around and made it fit for us.

Another major learning experience was during Black History Month. We started forming relationships and building partnerships with people we highlighted from the community throughout the month. This way, we hope to continue to deepen our relationships with them in hopes they become supporters and gift the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. This was great for us, and we are planning to have different moments that we can interact with our community in the future.

Any specific feedback you’d like to share with us?

I like how when I started slowing down in completing and attending sessions, I would receive an email from one of you checking in, I really enjoyed that.

I also enjoyed the digital drop-in sessions, masterclasses, and one-on-one meetings as they don’t take up a lot of time and they are usually during work hours. I like how BRIDGE was intentional with such things, that was helpful and considerate.

I truly enjoyed this experience and I learned a lot with this programme. I feel like it's been two years, I don't know why I feel like it's been longer but in a good way as I've gained a lot throughout this time.

One last thing, I like how you all adapt to what's happening around us. I like the session on crypto and philanthropy. I didn’t know anything about those topics, and it was really cool just to see that you can include crypto in philanthropy. I loved how you all adapted to what’s happening.

Find out more about the Community Foundation of Greater Flint on their website and Facebook page.

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