Authored by John Fitterer
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CITC: By the Fundraising Numbers

July 15th, 2015 by John Fitterer

The numbers are counted, tabulated and recorded:  In its first year, the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) is a clear financial success for CDCs, the Commonwealth and, most importantly, Massachusetts residents.  As individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits from the outer beaches of the Cape to the rolling hills of the Berkshires learned about this new program, CDCs began to use the tax credit not simply to invite their historical supporters to increase their giving, but also welcomed hundreds of new donors to support their work. The Community Investment Tax Credit gathered speed through the second half of 2014, and concluded by generating $2.7 million from new donors. Overall, $4,709,998 was raised last year through the program. Critically, for every taxpayer dollar allocated toward the program, the Commonwealth realized $2.00 in community-directed donations, including $1.43 in totally new funding not previously available. While these are perhaps the biggest fundraising successes recorded for the first year of the CITC program, the details yield even more positive results worth sharing.

At first, MACDC staff were most concerned that CDCs with rural service areas would be the hardest pressed to execute effective fundraising strategies. After all, if the towns in which you work have no large corporations or foundations and just a few thousand people, it can be hard to raise money. But we were thrilled to be wrong. Hilltown CDC, for example, which has a service area sandwiched between the Pioneer Valley and the Berkshires had several donors step up to make contributions of $1,000 or more whereas in the past they had only donated a few hundred dollars. CDCs on the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard found incredible success too by reaching out to members of their community, even seasonal residents. This is not to overshadow the incredible fundraising efforts from CDCs in Boston and the Gateway cities, but the expectation, at first, was that urban communities, given the greater density of individuals, families and businesses, would find it easier to roll out a new fundraising initiative.

Patterns of how CDCs issued their credits are hard to identify as individuals, families, banks, businesses and nonprofits all participated. While one CDC had one donor consume all their credits and another had a handful of foundations use the tax credit to increase their grants, most CDCs found a balanced mix of individuals, financial institutions and local businesses, as 65% of all funds raised came from these two taxpayer categories. Sixty-seven percent of all new donations came from individuals and families, which raised 47% of all new revenue generated through the program in 2014. The average donation from individuals and families was $3,189.37. Of the 1,014 donations made last year, 610 were from individuals and families.  With this fundraising success, the CITC is achieving one of its fundamental goals of measurably diversifying the overall funding base of CDCs.

Additional highlights of the CITC program’s first year include the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley raising 23% of the total raised in 2014 or close to $1.1 million. We also estimate $250,000 came during the last week in December and that most donors made their donation in the 4th quarter of the year. This isn’t unusual, but it’s new to CDCs who are accustomed to budgeting their fundraising activities upon a grant and service contract schedule.

Notwithstanding all of this success, there is room for improvement. Not surprisingly, as a new program, the CITC got off to a slow start during the first half of 2014 and most donations did not arrive until the final quarter. A total of 79% of the credits available in 2014 were consumed. While these credits carry over to 2015, it means that CDCs will need to increase their collective fundraising by more than 200% in 2015.

If we were to draw a conclusion from the fundraising numbers for the first year, it would be that the tax credit is working and CDCs are stepping up to the opportunity that it brings. The public/private partnership model inherent in the CITC is poised to lift up new opportunities for neighborhoods and families across the Commonwealth.

Taxpayer Type # of donations % of donations $ donated % of Total raised % of $ from new donors
Construction 47 5% $220,240  5% 3%
Accounting Services 23 2% $61,200  1% 1%



3 0% $19,000  0% 0%
Wholesale/Retail Trade 20 2% $99,500  2% 1%
Finance Institution 89 9% $1,092,650  23% 14%
Insurance/Real Estate 41 4% $158,000  3% 2%
Business Services 22 2% $40,190  1% 0%
Health Services 8 1% $24,741  1% 0%
Legal Services 24 2% $64,950  1% 1%
Education Services 3 0% $8,000  0% 0%
Individuals 610 60% $1,945,518  41% 27%
Other 124 12% $976,009  21% 8%
Total 1014 100% $4,709,998 100% 58%

Mel King Institute Celebrates with 6th Anniversary Breakfast

June 30th, 2015 by John Fitterer

The Mel King Instiute had a wonderful annual breakfast complete with testimonials about their impact, a moving poem from Tufts students about race and the immigrant experience in America, and a insightful keynote speech by DHCD Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay on thinking about present problems with a mind towards future ones. The program ended with a recited poem by the Institute's namesake, Mel King. 

Thank you again to all our sponsors including our presenting sponsor, Citizens Bank! Our work would not be possible without your support.  

Boston LISC Expands Services across Commonwealth

April 30th, 2015 by John Fitterer

With the launch of the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) last year, Boston LISC committed to expanding the range of their services beyond their traditional focus on greater Boston to the entire Commonwealth.  With just over a year following the initial allocation of tax credits through the CITC program, Boston LISC is actively reaching out to provide new programs and services to Community Development Corporations across Massachusetts.“Boston LISC is working to bring resources to community development corporations across Massachusetts as a Community Support Organization.  We are building on the work we have been doing with MACDC as cofounders of the Mel King Institute.”Some of the highlights from LISC’s expansion of services over the past year:

  • Issued first two loans of LISC’s Transit Oriented Development Accelerator fund in Salem, MA
  • Provided $120,000 in capacity building grants to eight CDCs outside of Boston, including:
    • North Shore CDC
    • ACT (Lawrence)
    • Twin Cities CDC
    • CEDC
    • HAP
    • Franklin County CDC
    • Hilltown CDC
    • CDC of South Berkshire
  • Served CDC affordable housing owners statewide through LISC’s Green Retrofit Initiative
  • Expanded LISC AmeriCorps program from 11 members to 16 members, with residents at CDCs such as South Berkshire CDC, CEDC in New Bedford and North Shore CDC.

“This is another excellent way the CITC program is expanding and strengthening the Community Development field in Massachusetts,” noted Joe Kriesberg, MACDC President.  “Boston LISC has an incredible track record providing programs, services and funding to CDCs in communities and neighborhoods in greater Boston.  Now they are expanding this geographical focus and within one year the impact is substantial.”Learn more about Boston LISC.

People and Places Conference: National Convening Fosters Unity & Highlights Incredible Work

March 16th, 2015 by John Fitterer

Earlier this month, over 30 representatives from Massachusetts, including 4 MACDC staff, converged on Washington D.C., bringing snow and a city shutdown with them, to join peers from across the country for the People and Places Conference.  With close to 500 participants and 150 speakers, the conference highlighted the role that local practitioners are playing in fostering long-term, positive and durable change for low-income people and places. The conference was a joint project of the National Association of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA), the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD) and the National Urban League.

The conference had four major themes that provided an overarching outline to addressing critical needs in low- and moderate-income communities:  community control, capital flow, neighborhood level economies and thriving people.  Dozens of workshops were included within each of these four themes – with several Massachusetts –based practitioners highlighting their work.  

“I was very pleased to see this conference achieve both of its core goals,” said MACDC President Joe Kriesberg, who is currently serving as chair of the NACEDA Board of Directors. “First, we wanted to foster greater unity within the community development field by bringing together diverse leaders from throughout the country. Second, we wanted to highlight the exciting work being done by local practitioners who are adapting and innovating to the changing times and creating a community development movement for the 21st Century.  We did both.”

Going forward, the conference organizers will seek to build on their emerging partnership to create a stronger voice for community development practitioners in Washington, DC.  There also appear to be some emerging opportunities for new collaborations across the sector in such diverse areas as pay-day lending and responding to gentrification and red-hot real estate markets.  Keep reading the MACDC Notebook to learn about these and other efforts as they unfold.

Say No To Crumbling Roads and Bridges

August 21st, 2014 by John Fitterer

On November 4th, Massachusetts voters will decide on a statewide ballot question that would eliminate a portion of the gas tax.  If Question 1 passes, it would be a step backwards, causing our roads, bridges, public transportation, bikeways and sidewalks to fall into further disrepair.  It will threaten the gains we’ve made towards a sustainable, healthy, and equitable transportation system.

We urgently need your help for NO on Question 1.

As you read this, more than half our bridges are deficient, unsafe or even closed from the Cape to the Berkshires.  Recent reforms and revenues have finally put us on the right track - but Question 1 would derail us, hurting our economy and compromising our safety.

Question 1 would eliminate a law that links the state gas tax to inflation. This transportation funding from gas tax indexing is constitutionally protected for transportation.  

To help grow the campaign to defeat Question 1, please do these things today:

1. Spread the Word.  Please share this information with your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues.

2. Sign up for updates.  Visit

3. Follow this campaign on Twitter @VoteNoOnQ1 and  #NoOnQ1MA.

We urge you to join us and vote NO on Question 1 on November 4th!

MACDC Interviews Governor Patrick

July 24th, 2014 by John Fitterer

On Wednesday, July 23rd, MACDC's President Joe Kriesberg sat down for an interview with Govenor Deval Patrick to talk about the Community Investment Tax Credit, why he signed into law this program and why CDCs are so important to all communities across the Commonwealth.  Check out the complete interview below!


CLICK HERE to view video.

$15 Million for Brownfields Redevelopment Fund

February 18th, 2014 by John Fitterer

Last week, the Massachusetts Legislature voted to allocate $15 million for the Brownfields Redevelopment Fund in the Commonwealth’s Supplemental Budget.

“The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is a vital resource for communities across Massachusetts as residents seek to clean up polluted sites in their neighborhoods and transform them into places where people can live, work and play,” commented MACDC’s President Joe Kriesberg. “$15 million is a strong start toward fully recapitalizing the Fund. We look forward to working with the legislature over the coming months to secure additional funding to keep cleaning up the Commonwealth.”

The Brownfields Redevelopment Fund is designed to support the cleanup of vacant or underutilized properties where environmental contamination prevents development or reuse, by providing both interest-free financing for environmental assessments and flexible loans for the environmental cleanup. Since the Fund was created by the Legislature in 1998, it has made 630 individual awards, totaling over $78 million. Over the past five years alone, the Fund supported the creation of 2,551 homes, 2,242 construction jobs, and an additional 2,191 jobs, expected to be created by fund borrowers. The fund was fully depleted in June, 2013.

As of April 2013, MassDevelopment had 26 projects that will receive funding only if the Fund is recapitalized. MACDC and its allies seek a total of $60 million to fully recapitalize the fund, even if it takes more than one year to achieve this level.

CITC NOFA Released

November 11th, 2013 by John Fitterer

MACDC members,

Here it is!  The first ever NOFA for the Community Investment Tax Credit.

Please note that DHCD will be holding an informational session at our annual meeting in Worcester on Friday, November 15.  If you have not yet registered please do so on our website.

PS - If you are not yet a DHCD-certified CDC you still have time. DHCD has generously given you until December 10 to submit your certification application.

PPS - Don't forget to check out MACDC's CITC resources.

Is Your Nonprofit A Jack of All Trades and Master of None?

October 17th, 2013 by John Fitterer

Have you ever tried explaining what your organization does only to sound like you’re listing items on a menu?  “We have this program and that service….”  “Oh, and did I mention we run a loan fund for small businesses and provide supportive housing for the elderly?”  If you’re not careful you can sound like the “Jack of All Trades, Master of None."  If you don’t have a cohesive narrative, anyone listening to you will just become confused and tune out.  The question you need to answer before you respond to any question about what your organization does is – “What is the constant central theme that defines why I’m here?”  Once you can answer that in a sentence, you’re on the road to clear engagement.

Start with the people that you’re directly working with and don’t go too far astray.  For example, you can say, “Our organization was founded by the area’s residents to help lead the community’s revitalization.  We focus on building homes, commercial space and helping the residents with job opportunities and career advancement.”  That sentence might not fit your organization exactly, but I’m not saying “We provide services ranging from x, y and z.”  I start and end my statement with what’s most important to us: How we work with and champion a community and its residents.

Oftentimes, I also like to engage people by talking expressly about why CDCs, for example, are so different from each other.  CDCs should be instruments of redevelopment for each community in which they’re working.  Communities have different needs from each other, or at the very least have different emphasis on similar needs.  While one community may be continuing to address the foreclosure crisis, another community may have large vacant factory spaces.  These two organizations could be working within adjoining communities and still have significant differences in focus.  Use this to stand out a bit and talk about how you’re responding to the needs of your community specifically.

Finally, a cohesive message is only as good as the messenger.  Make sure that ALL staff, ranging from property managers to accountants, know how to present the organization.  It is not good enough if only the executive director or communications director can effectively talk about the organization  

Nonprofits, in general, and CDCs, specifically, can be tough organizations to define and to explain.  A CDC grant writer will tell you that it can seem like well-crafted butchery fitting an organization’s purpose into a 2,000 character text box in an online application.  Take the time to really think about how you can concisely present an accurate description of your organization that doesn’t sound like a list of items on a menu.  Be engaging, direct and to the point.  At the beginning and end it should be about people and how your organization helps make change happen by being a central resource that local people use to transform their community.

To read more about this topic, check out Joe Kriesberg's post "Is there a common theme that unites the CDC sector?"

Stop saying you work at a CDC!

September 27th, 2013 by John Fitterer

CDCs are leaders in tearing down walls, literally and figuratively, and creating communities where ALL people can live with dignity while participating in and benefiting from our economy.  This is the ideal vision of what CDCs are striving to achieve.  But most people don’t have the faintest clue who we are or what the acronym CDC means.  The general public’s understanding of a CDC, if they have one at all, most likely is centered on affordable housing.  We, as a field, aren’t very good at telling the public what we do.  Why we do it. What we’re doing and what we’ve done.

Let’s start with acronyms. What is a CDC?  Well, of course, it’s the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.  So are we handling Ebola strains in super-hermitically sealed labs?  No. If you search Google with the term “CDC,” we’re not even a Wiki entry on the first page, or the second, or the third.  The CDC acronym for our field doesn’t work by itself.  This means that you have to KNOW what CDC means in order to begin to get the results in Google relevant to our field.  The problem is worse than this one acronym because we have multiple acronyms just in our names:  NDC, NHS and CED.

Next is the statement “affordable housing” and how it applies to our field.  Do CDCs get involved and lead significant affordable housing projects in their community?  Sure.  But we aren’t affordable housing groups exclusively.  There are many organizations that are producing and preserving affordable housing. The term by itself is inaccurate to describe a CDC. It also can paint an ugly picture in people’s minds about what we do.  Affordable Housing often is associated with big government and gray tenements.  We don’t want to define our field with negative mental associations.  Finally, no one should talk to someone outside of our field or real estate development in general of housing units.  It’s a term that’s cold and used for budgeting and planning purposes.  Leave it there.

Then how do we explain to people what it is that we do effectively, clearly, concisely?  Obviously, this is a hard and complicated question to answer, but we must change the way the general public relates to our work if we want to attract new people to it. I’m not going to answer the question completely in one post, but we can start with the power of a quick defining statement and how it can effectively be used to tell our story a bit more clearly.

MACDC is a big acronym that says what we want to say to elected officials and people involved in our work, but absolutely nothing to anyone else.  It’s why we have adopted a statement that captures what we do without any acronyms and without talking about affordable housing:  “MACDC is an association of mission-driven community development organizations dedicated to creating places of opportunity where ALL people can live with dignity while participating in and benefiting from our Commonwealth's economy.” I can start a conversation off with someone who doesn’t know the field and not get stuck with stereotyping, negative connotations and perplexing acronyms.  This easily leads me into giving examples just about everyone can immediately grasp:  supporting fisherman on the Cape, cleaning up Brownfield sites, creating thousands of new homes across the state and helping families of all backgrounds compete in our economy.  People like hearing about all of this.  AND people relate to what I’m saying immediately.

CDCs are leaders in tearing down walls, except when it comes to sharing with the general public what we do and why. Let’s free ourselves from these language puzzle boxes and get out there and let people know what we do and why.


I want to hear from you and what your CDC or nonprofit is doing to overcome these communications challenges.  We’re always looking for better ways to express what it is we’re up to as a field.  Post comments here and let’s get the conversation going!


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