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Annual Report 1997

by Hellmut Golde, President

1997 was another extraordinary year for the NW Fund. In spite of the gyrations of the stock market in the fourth quarter of the year, the assets of the fund grew by about $1 million. And this growth was accomplished in spite of a significant increase in giving.

After the growth of the fund assets in 1996, the board decided in early 1997 to increase its charitable activity well beyond the 5% required by the IRS. Based on the asset value at the beginning of the year, the fund distributed about 8.3% of its value. Our awards grew from $198,900 in 1995, $268,148 in 1996, to $496,627 in 1997. This distribution percentage is, of course, not guaranteed for the future. It will be reviewed every year and will depend on the performance of the Fund’s investments.

Perhaps even more remarkable was the high proportion of successful grant applications in 1997. Over 82% of the applications were funded with an average grant amount of $8,713. This increase in the percentage of successful applications can partially be explained by our distribution decision mentioned above. In addition, our trustees, who are all actively involved in reviewing proposals, remarked about the increased quality of grant applications compared to 1995.

Three environmental concerns received 10 grants each in 1997: Constituency building, forestry and related issues, and water quality, quantity, and wetlands. Land use , including support of the Growth Management Act, received 8 grants, with smaller numbers going to other areas.

Environmental issues were addressed by many different methods. Multiple methods were used in 13 grants, closely followed by educational methods (12 grants) negotiation and regulatory oversight (11), and litigation (10). The relatively large number of grants using a predominantly educational methodology is somewhat surprising in view of the exclusion of purely educational grants stated in our guidelines. The board may wish to review this phenomenon in the coming months.

Geographically, grant applications with a statewide impact received about 40% of the grants and funding. The Puget Sound/Northwest and the Northeast regions of the state received about 17% of the funding each, with the remainder going to the other two regions, Southeast and Southwest. In general, the distribution across the regions of the state has somewhat evened out in 1997.

What are the challenges for 1998? As I look at the distribution of grant funds among issues and organizations I am wondering whether we could be more effective in targeting some of our grantmaking into specific issues with larger grants. Should we consider setting aside a fraction, say one-third, of our grant funds each year for a specific issue, e.g., water quality or toxic pollution at Hanford, and award one grant to one organization which could make a real impact on that issue?

Another, and ever-present challenge is to be more effective in our operation, to improve the review of applications, to find better ways to evaluate completed grants.

In closing, I thank our trustees for their dedication to the NW Fund and I would like to express my specific appreciation to our Fund Administrator for her thorough and patient way of running the day-to-day affairs of the Fund.

Financial Highlights -1997

Total Assets $6,662,635
Operatng Expenses $ 69,500
Actual Grant Awards [57] $ 496,627