For many years the idea of a Community Foundation had surfaced among community leaders throughout the San Luis Valley. In January 2015, a group of valley-wide community leaders participated in a facilitated meeting to discuss community wealth-building and the possibility of a regional Community Foundation. One of the outcomes of the facilitated session was a decision to conduct a feasibility study to determine the viability of such a concept.
Some of the valley-wide leaders involved in the initial meeting, along with Valley Community Fund board members, begin meeting with a San Luis Valley-based consulting firm to discuss the scope of work and obtain a proposal. In June 2015, Valley Community Fund engaged Smoyer & Associates to conduct the feasibility study. The study was financed with a portion of an anonymous donation to VCF and through a grant from the SLV Regional Council of El Pomar Foundation.
Results of the study showed that San Luis Valley community, business, and nonprofit leaders thought the concept of a valley-wide Community Foundation was a good one, based primarily on the level of need that exists in the region. However, they had limited understanding about the philanthropic purpose and importance of a community foundation, and were more focused on the beneficiary perspective than on a donor's point of view.
Most of the community leaders interviewed perceived that there is little wealth and financial capacity in the valley; and that there are more weaknesses than strengths in fundraising. The vague nature of the organizational structure, infrastructure and leadership of the Community Foundation concept would eventually limit fundraising success, they thought. Another strong perception that would limit fundraising success included the view that this effort would compete with regional nonprofits for funds.
To overcome these weaknesses, the Steering Committee hired an experienced nonprofit leader to be the Executive Director. The new Executive Director had successfully run and grown a community foundation, and also had extensive fundraising experience. Thus, the Community Foundation of the San Luis Valley was born in 2017.