Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Nonprofit Focus: MERIT & TFEC


Why do you feel it’s important for your business to support our area’s nonprofits?

At Merit, we believe nonprofits are vital in helping our community thrive by putting support and service above profit. Support and service that otherwise may not be available to those they serve. In 2020, we launched The Merit Foundation through a partnership with The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC). TFEC has been serving Central PA for over 100 years by focusing on equality and inclusion and supporting philanthropic interests of donors who want to effect change.

The Merit Foundation, a fund of TFEC, was created to help diversify the marketing and advertising industry. We recognize we can improve our industry by becoming more diverse and inclusive. The Merit Foundation will clear paths for individuals in lower-income areas and schools, regardless of skin color, gender or beliefs, to be able to pursue career options that are currently unattainable or achievable. Our industry has to do better at employing a more diverse workforce, and we believe The Merit Foundation can help.

Why do you support this particular nonprofit and what does your business do to benefit the organization?

We are grateful to be able to partner with TFEC to help us achieve our goal of providing pathways into an industry that we believe has the ability to change lives for the better. It’s an industry that has a very public platform and, we believe, a responsibility to raise awareness around topics, issues and causes that can help the greater good. 

The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC)

Describe your organization and the importance of corporate or foundation support to further your mission.

The Foundation for Enhancing Communities (TFEC) is a tax-exempt public charity serving thousands of people who share a common interest in improving the quality of life in the communities in which they live by creating charitable funds that help meet the ever-changing needs.

TFEC partners with individuals, families and businesses to achieve their charitable goals and strengthen the local communities by investing in them now and for future generations. TFEC has donors everywhere and serves the nonprofits in a six-county area of Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lebanon, Perry and the Dillsburg area of northern York.

Donald McCormick, president of Dauphin Deposit Bank, founded TFEC in 1920. The 18th oldest community foundation in the country, TFEC celebrated its centennial in 2020. TFEC administers a family of more than 900 charitable funds, which includes more than 125 scholarships to support the gift of education. Fifteen rounds of competitive grant-making are offered to the nonprofits within TFEC’s geographic footprint. Since 1920, TFEC has established more than 1,000 charitable funds and given out more than $154 million in charitable grants.

TFEC manages more than $120 million in assets and investments in charitable funds established by both companies and individuals, with an additional $50 million under management as part of contracted management services. These management services facilitate everything from managing back room services for nonprofits and foundations to the growth and distribution of charitable dollars in the local community. TFEC awarded 274 grants in 2020, totaling more than $6.5 million, of which more than $1 million were from the discretionary competitive grant program. 

For 2021, what is your greatest need for corporate or foundation support?

Corporate and individual foundation funding is vital to our mission because TFEC needs unrestricted funds to be able to meet the needs of our nonprofits through discretionary grantmaking. There are so many worthy nonprofits doing great work and never enough grant funding to meet all the needs. Especially in times like the world is in now with the COVID-19 virus, unrestricted funds allow TFEC to respond quickly to a large variety of needs.

TFEC has partnered with the United Way of the Capital Region to create the COVID-19 Community Response Fund to provide emergency funding for nonprofits affected by COVID-19.

Unrestricted funds are the most flexible type of gift. It allows TFEC to use them for any nonprofit need through our grant program overseen by volunteer community members who serve on the various grant committees.  Our unrestricted fund is called “The Fund for the Future,” and the funds in it permit TFEC to quickly respond to situations that arise that need immediate attention.

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