A message from El Pomar Foundation:
How does an organization that gives out approximately $20 million in grants each year ensure that the funds are used properly? Grantmakers answer that question in different ways. With recent news reports that include allegations that some of the funds the Foundation allocated to the city of Colorado Springs to retain the United States Olympic Committee headquarters might have been misused, we thought it would be an appropriate time to go into some detail about how the trustees and staff of El Pomar work to safeguard the legacy of Spencer and Julie Penrose.
El Pomar Foundation’s Community Impact Visit (CIV) program allows the trustees to take the final step in a complex grantmaking process: true oversight. All grantees are required to submit a final report, typically no later than one year after receiving a grant from the Foundation. This form details exactly how the funds were used by the organization and is a first step in ensuring that the grant dollars were allocated appropriately and effectively. This is a common practice among grantmakers.
What sets El Pomar apart, however, is the fact that this is merely a jumping off point for the oversight and compliance process. Once final reports are received from organizations receiving grants of $5,000 or more, an even more thorough compliance review process ensues. Each trustee is given the opportunity to review the final report and pose questions. Following this final report review, the organization is scheduled for a CIV, which is a personal, on-site visit with the organization’s leadership to discuss details of the grant.
During the compliance visit, at least one member of El Pomar’s leadership team meets to discuss grant particulars and learn even more about how the funds were used. While the ultimate goal is to gauge compliance, it is also an opportunity for El Pomar to learn firsthand about the organization’s structure, successes and challenges. And in most instances, this is also an exciting chance for the grantee and El Pomar staff members to see the impact of the Penrose legacy come to life.
Since 1995, more than 1,970 on-site Community Impact Visits have been conducted in over 200 different locations across Colorado. The compliance program is emblematic of the importance the trustees place on accountability and impact.
Once the visit is complete, the assigned staff member writes a thorough summary that is delivered to the senior executive team and each trustee. In the vast majority of instances the visit confirms that the organization has complied with the terms of the grant. In instances where this is not the case, El Pomar takes steps to understand why and rectify the situation. All grantees sign contracts when receiving funding and know that the binding agreement could result in forfeiture of funds if the grant is not allocated according to the terms of the contract.