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The Disruptors

The Hub Newsletter

June 11, 2020

In 1958, a Nebraska bookworm borrowed $4,000 from the local bank to print a series of literature study guides. His name was Clifton Hillegass. To his surprise, his little black and yellow books quickly became the hottest resource for studious, time-crunched, and (sometimes) lazy students tasked with reading the literary giants. Within 10 years, this somewhat boring basement venture became a million-dollar business: Cliff’s Notes. Today, CliffsNotes™ is part of the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt global learning company.  And it’s probably worth billions.

Now Cliff never wanted readers to substitute his guides for the real thing.  But we all know Homer’s Odyssey can be just that—an odyssey.  And, others might consider it a mere literary misdemeanor to read the CliffsNotes™ for Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment as opposed to its 545 punishing pages.

In fact, most huge works could benefit from a concise companion guideeven The Cape Cod Foundation. Because our story spans three decades, it’s like a thick, dogeared book you keep picking up and putting down. Over time, the story naturally loses context, continuity, meaning, and momentum. A CliffsNotes™ versionwith chapter-by-chapter plot summary, character descriptions, and structure and theme analysiswould be incredibly useful. 

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic is writing this succinct summary of foundation work for us. Right now, everything we are doing to help combat the current crisis illustrates what we have done on a daily basis for the last thirty years:  assess community needs; leverage partnerships; and mobilize, build, and deploy resources for maximum impact.  The huge, unprecedented need has accelerated the pace. However, there’s nothing knee-jerk about our strategy.  It’s 100% tried and true. All the pieces and principles are there. We are doing what community foundations are designed to do.

THE CAPE COD FOUNDATION: CLIFFSNOTES EDITION

CHAPTER SUMMARIES
MOBILIZING, BUILDING, AND DEPLOYING RESOURCES
In March, the Foundation donated a total of $10,000 to the Cape & Islands Major Crisis Relief Fund and Cape & Islands United Way to get immediate support to individuals impacted by the pandemic. Then, we allocated $100,000 in discretionary resources to create and seed fund The Cape Cod Foundation Strategic Emergency Response Fund. To date, we’ve raised nearly $1 million and distributed $580,000 in grants to 29 local nonprofit organizations providing critical services to thousands of Cape Cod residents. Fundraising continues. More grants are planned. 

ASSESSING COMMUNITY NEEDS
When the pandemic broke out and the state shut down, we opened up our network to assess community needs. As always, this powerful pipeline of community partners and nonprofit leaders across the sector has given us reliable, real-time information to make quick assessments and impactful grants.

LEVERAGING PARTNERSHIPS
Collective giving is the foundation of a Foundation. We work with individual donors, businesses, fundholders, and other funding partners toward shared goals during “ordinary times,” so we have been able to adapt and scale this philanthropic model during “extraordinary times.” 

In addition, because community foundations have in-depth knowledge of the nonprofit sector, long-standing relationships across the region, grantmaking expertise, and administrative mechanisms in place, corporations and private foundations look to them to deploy resources efficiently and effectively. We are fortunate that we have received support from a number of individuals, foundations, and corporate partners, as well as $350,000 to date from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to deploy on Cape Cod because we are a trusted and established community foundation.   

Finally, as a community resource, we are sharing what we’ve learned about community needs with other funders to increase the sphere of knowledge, influence, and assistance beyond the Foundation. 

STRUCTURE & THEME ANALYSIS
You’ll notice a strategic consistency in our grantmaking—before, during, and after the pandemic. 

  • Our grants support all aspects of community life.
  • We invest in organizations with strong leadership and solid infrastructures.
  • We have deep relationships with our grant recipients.
  • We award larger grants, sometimes multiple grants, to fewer organizations, those that have the largest reach and the ability to achieve the most impact.
  • We promote trust-based grantmaking. During the pandemic, community needs keep shifting and nonprofits keep adapting. It is important—now more than everfor everyone to remain flexible so nonprofits can maximize the resources they receive.
  • Our work is near- and far-sighted. Right now, we’ve deployed more than half of the funds we’ve raised to provide immediate relief from the impacts of the pandemic.   This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. We will need resources for the recovery and rebuilding phase. 

FINAL THOUGHTS
During the early days of his business, Mr. Hillegass personally fulfilled orders for his study guides and included a note to readers with each one: ”A thorough appreciation of literature allows no shortcuts.”  In other words, “Read the entire book.”

I hope you will continue to follow and support the Foundation during this chapter of its life. Our work during the COVID-19 pandemic helps illustrate what we do, how we do it, and why it’s important to do at all. It provides a succinct, linear story about the power of a shared vision, the impact of collective giving, the necessity of planning for the unforeseen, and the ability to react quickly and strategically when your community is in dire need.

It also explains why this community, every community, needs a community foundation. And why you should be part of it. The next chapter is about reviewing, re-imagining, rebuilding. This is another opportunity for us to stick together, work together, and drive social change together.

 

BECOME A CAPE COD FOUNDATION COMMUNITY PARTNER
Your gift supports the stewardship of The Cape Cod Foundation Strategic Emergency Response Fund and our ongoing Civic Leadership initiatives throughout the region.  In addition to strategic grantmaking, we invest in nonprofit education and leadership development opportunities, partnerships with broad regional impact, and projects that bring vital, shared resources to our nonprofit community. Follow our initiatives and achievements in our newsletter. 

SUPPORT THE CAPE COD FOUNDATION STRATEGIC EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND
Your gift supports the continued operation of local nonprofit organizations as they address the immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health, economy, and vitality of Cape Cod.  For updates on this initiative, CLICK HERE.

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Previous Columns

THE DISRUPTORS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Every year, CNBC releases a list of 50 private companies who are revolutionizing their industries, unseating corporate giants, and banking billions. These feisty, forward-thinking startups—like Airbnb, Peloton, Rent the Runway, and Door Dash—have seriously shaken things up. They’ve made it possible for us to vacation in private castles, live-stream boot camp workouts, rent $1200 Christian Siriano dresses for $150, and have steamy little cases of White Castle burgers delivered right to our front doors. They’re called the Disruptors. By making waves, these companies are making a difference. By changing the rules, they’re changing the way we think, the way we act, and the way we live. They’re creating a new frenzy of followers across every single industry. Including ours. READ

GHOST IN THE GRAVEYARD
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I grew up playing Ghost in the Graveyard. Think of it as a giant game of tag with dozens of neighborhood kids. Keep in mind, this wasn’t a Halloween thing. It was a daily-never-get-tired-of thing. And, because the boundaries for the game crossed multiple blocks (Remember the good old days when kids could roam?), the moms had trouble keeping track of us. So, they developed a calling tree. When my mom was looking for me, she’d push-button her way down the phone list until she found a mom who knew where we had all drifted to tag me to come home. READ

THE MIX MASTER
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I’m a Mixmaster. Have been since the ‘80s. And lately, my “Country-Boy-Road-Warrior” mix is the only thing blasting through the car speakers: Life is a Highway, Every Mile a Memory, Red Dirt Road and Dirt Road Anthem. I know every skip, crackle, and pause on this well-used mix, because after a quick daily touch-down at the office, Willy and I are inevitably On the Road Again. And, by the time October rolls around every year, I’m feeling a lot like a Johnny Cash song: I’ve Been Everywhere. While Foundation work hasn’t taken me to Fond du Lac, Little Rock, or any of the other 91 places fired off in rapid succession in this name-dropping ditty, it has taken me all over the Cape for Road Warrior Recon, reconnaissance missions with the movers and shakers in the region. READ

THE OPPORTUNISTS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Dear Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist,
–The Opportunist
While you were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it. 

While opportunists usually get a bad rap; this one got the last laugh. And that got me thinking. There’s nothing wrong with seizing opportunities. Carpe diem, so they say. It’s what Foundation work is all about—in a more altruistic kind of way. Our mission is to bring resources to our community. Period. End of story. Well, not really. We just added a new chapter. READ

THE GRIT FACTOR
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
It was my Junior year of high school, the Brown Invitational cross-country meet. I was never the fastest runner–usually number 7 or 8–so I straddled the JV and Varsity team. This time, the coach put me in the JV race, counting on me to place. The pressure was on. In the first quarter mile loop of these races, hundreds of runners are jam-packed together. At the start, one of them stepped on the back of my sneaker—and off it went. I was out in front, where I wanted to be, had to be. If I stopped for my shoe, I would fall back in the pack. So, I just kept running without it.  READ

ON TREND
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Most kids fall into whatever fashion trend comes along.  As a child in the 80’s, I fell hard for my Madonna “Lucky Star” look: ripped sweatshirt, lacy fingerless gloves, an armful of jelly bracelets and a head full of hairspray. In middle school, I jumped permed-head first into pegged pants, rugby shirts and high-top Reeboks. And in high school, comfort was key: nothing but baggy flannel shirts, overalls, and a pair of Adidas slides. Today, I really couldn’t tell you if I’m fashion-forward or fashion-backward. Being “on-trend” isn’t high on my radar anymore.  At least fashion-wise.  Today, I follow philanthropic trends and can’t get enough of what businesses are doing.  For good.  READ

FRIDGE WORTHY
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
When I was in third grade, I had absolutely no idea how to spell scholarship, but I somehow managed to win one.  Everyone in my class had to write an essay, “Why I Love My Mother.”  I can’t remember what I wrote, but it was definitely fridge-worthy.  Back then, I’d do anything to earn a spot on the harvest gold door of our trusted, old Whirlpool.  It was the magnetized, centralized, optimized place for all kids’ achievements (and the weekly grocery list). READ

OUR ROARING TWENTIES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
When they were in their twenties, Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, Thomas Edison made the first phone call, and a young Dane named Bohr published a theory of the atom which rocked the physics world.  When I was in my twenties, I started drinking coffee. I also learned that if you push hard enough, you really can get a sleeper sofa up the 5 narrow flights of stairs of a Beacon Hill apartment building.  The coffee probably helped.  READ

WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I’ve always loved the expression, “Where the rubber meets the road.” Until recently, I had no idea how or when that phrase originated. So, I did what all curious minds do. I googled it. Surprise. The idiom trail leads back to the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and a TV commercial jingle from the mid-1960s.  READ

SUPERHEROES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Things my six-year-old has taught me: 1) Every song has a danceable beat; 2) the “H” on the Montreal Canadians uniforms stands for Hockey not Habitants–that stumped us; 3) Not all super heroes have superpowers.  I supposed I knew that one. Superman has super-human everything, and Batman without the suit is just Bruce Wayne.READ

SMART HOMES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
Over the past 30 years, Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod has built 127 homes throughout the Cape. By the end of this year, 430 people will live in a Habitat Home. Thirty-four more homes are under construction or on the drawing board. Find out why we’re calling these “smart homes.”READ

THE HEART OF THE MATTER
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
In my last column, Beam me up, Scotty, I talked about the Foundation’s commitment to capacity-building. This isn’t just a passive buzz word. It’s an action verb. It’s a way to make our community stronger.  Find out how we’ve supported Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod​ and hear how this organization is making a big impact in our community.  READ

BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

Full disclosure.  I’m not really a Trekkie or Trekker (whatever most Star Trek fans prefer to be called). But, I do admire Scotty (Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott), the chief engineer and “miracle worker” of the USS Enterprise.  It’s purely professional.  Let me explain. READ

THE HOUSE THAT BILL BUILT
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

The house that Bill built took seven years to complete and cost $63 million. It has six kitchens, 24 bathrooms, and garage space for 23 cars. The pool house is bigger than my entire house. So is the gym (probably because of the trampoline). And, the reception hall is the perfect place for a plated dinner if you keep the guest list to 150. READ

NOTHING BUT BLUE SKIES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

New Year. New Resolution. I’m swearing off buzz words. Sunsetting them. Sending them straight over the bleeding edge. No more drilling down, reaching out or circling back.  No more pivoting, piggybacking or peeling back the layers of the onion. Our board is not the S.W.A.T. team, you are not stakeholders, and today’s agenda is not Mission Critical.  READ

END-OF-THE-YEAR APPEAL (AND  CONFESSION)
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

I’ve had a serious crush since the 1980s. His name is Pac-Man. That neon-yellow, dot-gobbling character stole my heart the minute I powered up my first Commodore 64 computer. Pac and I spent hours together in his video maze, devouring dots and evading four murderous monsters: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. Together, we relentlessly pursued those flashing Power Pellets. These power-ups made us temporarily invulnerable so we could swallow up the enemy, earn bonus points, and advance to the next level of play. What a guy! WHAT. A. CONCEPT!  READ

WHAT’S YOUR GIVING STORY?
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

My children are five and seven.  They already know I’m not a chef, an artist or an editor. Right now, I’m known for burnt pots, stick figure drawings and long, rambling life lessons. Some legacy, huh?  In time, though, what I hope they’ll remember me for is teaching them the value of giving. READ

MY HOME TOWN
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

Some people think you can’t go home again. I don’t.  I grew up in Dennis. (Ok, I know.  It’s a very short trip, but that’s not the point of the story.) See, whenever I hang out in my home town, I get those warm and fuzzy feelings of childhood.  Although many things have definitely changed there over the years, my feelings haven’t.  Going home still gives me goosebumps. READ

GIFT GIVERS ANONYMOUS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO

We’ve all had shocking self-revelations.  Mine came in my early thirties when I finally had to concede: I am a lousy gift-giver.  That long-delayed admission came one chilly Christmas Day when the presents I put under the tree received (yet again) an even chillier reception from my family members. When my mother said, “Really, honey, you shouldn’t have,” I finally heard it.  Really.  You.  Shouldn’t. Have. Ever. Again. READ

THE BLUE JEANS BLUES
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO
I have a serious love/hate relationship with blue jeans. LOVE wearing them. HATE shopping for them. But, when I had worn my Lucky Brand dark-washed, gently-whiskered, 5-pocket, zipper-fly, boot-cut besties way beyond respectability, I had no choice but to hit the mall. No biggie. Dash in. Dash out. A new pair of these made-for-me blues was a quick credit-card swipe away. Right? Wrong. READ

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
Recently, I had a surreal experience. It made me feel like I had walked out of my ordinary life and onto a television set. Not Game of Thrones or House of Cards. That might have been cool. No, I had landed on Sesame Street, PBS’s perky place for preschoolers. There was Bob (the affable music teacher who lives in an apartment above Hooper’s Store) and a handful of Muppets (no pun intended).  READ

WHAT I LEARNED FROM PRINCESS POPPY
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
I’m reluctant to admit it–and half-hoping you won’t believe it. One of my mentors is a troll–not one of those provocative-posting cyber trolls who purposefully disrupts online discussion groups. My superhero is a spunky little pink-haired, pink-skinned do-gooder named Princess Poppy. What’s more this pink paragon (who’s cooler than a pack of peppermints) sings! READ

YOU CAN’T PLAY HOCKEY IN HIGH HEELS
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
Last winter, I became a new mom: a hockey mom. Every week I raced out of the office to pick up my 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter for practice.  To be honest, I looked totally out of place in full business attire and seriously hoped there would never be a parental duty requiring me to skitter across the ice in 3-inch high heels.  READ

POWERING UP
KRISTIN O’MALLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO
I’m a runner. Not a fast runner. I like taking my time, going the distance. I run a few miles most mornings, step it up on the weekends and work in a half marathon every chance I get. Like most runners, I have a ritual. Breathe. Stretch. Repeat. I close my eyes, run the course in my mind, then release slowly, purposefully. READ

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