MACDC Release Report on Member Activity in the Creative Community Development

July 24th, 2015 by

MACDC set out earlier this year to learn more about what our members are doing to participate within and grow the creative economy here in Massachusetts. We knew our members were involved in a wide variety of activities, but what we learned surprised even us!

According to our newly released report, Creative Community Development in Massachusetts,  22 CDCs are actively engaged in fostering the creative economy, while 17 are involved in creative placemaking and 14 use arts and culture in their community organizing work (a total of 29 groups responded to our survey).  Clearly, CDCs across Massachusetts are investing significant time, energy and resources to stimulate and draw upon creative enterprises and expression to further their organization’s mission and goals.

Some of MACDC’s members have been engaged in these efforts for decades, while others are new to exploring methods where an emphasis on creative engagement through arts, literature and music, can further transform their work. Their activities may add renewed vitality to their communities and further transform neighborhoods and towns across Massachusetts. An emphasis on local culture and geography is a way for people to celebrate their communities, connect with a transcendent history – through art, music and storytelling – and reimagine a vibrant future view of a community that connects seamlessly with its past.  And the trend line is clear – more and more groups are incorporating the arts into their work in exciting and creative ways.

Learn more about what CDCs are doing to develop and support the creative economy in their regions through our report:  “Creative Community Development in Massachusetts.”

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MACDC members meet with Boston 2024 leaders

July 24th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

Members of MACDC met with leaders from Boston 2024 on July 24 to learn more about the proposed Olympic bid and to discuss how the games will ensure an equitable legacy in terms of housing, displacement, jobs, parks and transportation. The meeting was in response to an earlier letter that MACDC had sent back in February. Boston 2024 outlined impressive plans for 8,000 new housing units, new roads and infrastructure and expanded green space and parks. At the same time, MACDC urged Boston 2024 to increase the proposed amount of affordable housing at Midtown and Columbia Point and to develop a strategy for minimizing displacement during the summer of 2024 when millions of out of visitors could displace low income tenants. MACDC members also raised concerns about the loss of local jobs and the need to make sure that business and employment opportunities generated by the Olympics are shared broadly and fairly across the City.

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Legislature Provides $2 Million for Small Business T.A.

July 16th, 2015 by David Bryant & John Fitterer

Last year, the Commonwealth’s Small Business Technical Assistance program helped create 299 businesses, and created or preserved 1,584 jobs in the Massachusetts.  Thanks to the Massachusetts’ Legislature, small businesses will continue to turn to CDCs, and other recipients of this funding, to receive the assistance they need to develop, grow and sustain their operations.  This program, administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, has been a top priority for MACDC since 2006, and FY 2016 marks the second consecutive year that the program has received $2 million.

MACDC was also excited to see the Legislature provide an additional $2 million for the Baker Administration’s Urban Economic Agenda program, which will work with urban entrepreneurs, promote small businesses, and create new jobs. MACDC is thrilled that the Massachusetts Legislature and the Baker Administration are allocating significant financial resources to further drive and stimulate the Commonwealth’s local economies.

“Small businesses across Massachusetts are central to our economy’s strength and vitality.  Every business, no matter how large it may be today, started with just a few people, an idea and an abundance of passion,” Joe Kriesberg, MACDC’s President, noted.  “What a small business needs is the knowledge, networks and capital to mature and develop into a sustainable business. The Small Business Technical Assistance program ensures that these services reach underserved markets, lower-income communities, immigrants, women and other people of color.”

The bill now sits on Governor Baker’s desk and he has until Saturday, July 18, to review, sign, or veto the whole bill or discreet line items, after which time, the legislature could act to override any such vetoes.  MACDC fully expects both of these programs to be signed into law by the Governor. 

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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%
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GOALs Survey Results: MACDC Members Help More Than 72,000 Families in 2014

July 13th, 2015 by Don Bianchi

In 2014, MACDC Members helped over 72,000 families statewide obtain housing and job training, start or grow a small business, or receive a variety of services. Equally impressive, MACDC Members collectively generated investment of over $615 million in their communities in 2014. 

These are just two of the findings from the 2015 MACDC GOALs Survey.  These results are now available online in two publications: the first is our GOALs Report, which provides aggregated data on the work of our members and highlights stories from six CDCs that illustrate the impact our members have. Second, our 300+ page GOALs Appendix details the accomplishments of each individual MACDC Member in a wide range of activities and includes information on every real estate project completed in 2014 or in the pipeline as of December 31, 2014.  The Appendix includes a convenient table of contents to enable readers to quickly find the information that they need.

Since 2003, MACDC and its Members have collaborated on a collective effort to revitalize and stabilize communities across the state. The MACDC GOALs Initiative – Growing Opportunities, Assets, and Leaders across the Commonwealth – measures our annual progress in six areas of community development. Each year, we conduct a detailed online survey of our members to learn precisely what they have accomplished.  Over the twelve years of the GOALs Initiative, our members have helped to create or preserve over 15,000 homes and almost 33,000 jobs, and generated over $3.7 billion in economic investment in our communities.

This report highlights the terrific progress that MACDC Members have made over the past year. 

During 2014:

  • 2,569 volunteer community leaders were engaged in CDC activities;
  • 1,459 homes were built or preserved;
  • 6,161 job opportunities were created or preserved;
  • 1,304 locally-owned businesses received technical and financial support;
  • 72,046 families received housing, jobs, training or other services; and
  • $615 million in private and public funding was invested in our communities.


In this year’s GOALS Survey, for the first time, we ask CDCs who received Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) to report on the program's impact; detailed results are included in the Goals Appendix, starting on page 139.  CITC is designed to enable local residents and stakeholders to work with and through CDCs to partner with nonprofit, public, and private entities to improve economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income households and other residents in urban, rural, and suburban communities across the Commonwealth. CDCs accomplish this through adoption of community investment plans to undertake community development programs and activities.

Of the 36 CDCs who received a CITC award, 30 reported an increase in operational capacity, and 29 expanded their activities as a result of the award.  Additionally, 32 of these CDCs increased their level of community engagement through increased use of volunteers, more intensive engagement from their Boards of Directors, and increasing resident participation in organizational events.


For more information on the results of the MACDC GOALs Survey, contact Don Bianchi at

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Fair Housing in the News

July 13th, 2015 by Joe Kriesberg

America’s long standing effort to end housing discrimination and reduce racial segregation has been back in the news lately.  The Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding Disparate Impact Claims was a partial victory for Fair Housing Advocates.  However, the language in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Opinion puts so many limitations on these claims that they may be hard to win in future cases, as described in this Article in Atlantic Magazine.  Fair Housing Advocates generally applauded the decision and community developers like Enterprise Communities and Bart Mitchell from the Community Builders saw the court trying to balance the need to both expand opportunities in upper income communities while also investing to revitalize lower income neighborhoods.  The Supreme Court seems to indicate that finding this balance is the job of local and state government – not the courts. Time will tell if that interpretation is correct.

A few days later, HUD issued its long awaited new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that seeks to break down long standing patterns of segregation and fully implement the law’s mandate for local and state government to take pro-active steps to promote integration.  One key benefit of the new rule is that it will compel local jurisdictions to think pro-actively about how to advance fair housing and to engage the larger community in that discussion and planning.  And the Opportunity Agenda has published a useful guidebook to help them do it.   At the same time, as this article in the Huffington Post makes clear, simply having the discussion and creating a plan is unlikely to end the debate over the future of our neighborhoods.  While most fair housing and community development practitioners would strongly agree on the need to break down barriers for families and people of color in upper income communities, the implications for lower income communities, gentrifying neighborhoods and rural areas are not nearly as clear cut.  Moreover, the tension between investing dollars in building affordable housing in upper income communities and building it in lower income communities will continue so long as there is such a large mismatch between the need for affordable housing and the financial resources available to build it.

You’ll have a chance to learn more and discuss these important developments at the upcoming Fair Housing Forum to be hosted by CHAPA and the Mel King Institute on August 6 at Boston Private Bank

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People I Ask for a Gift Win

July 6th, 2015 by Rita Fuerst Adams

A great volunteer, George, once told me and a group of young volunteers why he loved to ask people to give. He said when he asks for a gift the organization wins because it can serve more people. The people we are serving win because we can provide better services. Most importantly the people I ask for a gift win because they have an opportunity to participate in their community.

People want to participate in and improve their communities and community development corporations are in an ideal position to provide citizens such opportunities. While fundraising may seem like a foreign skill to learn, you actually already know everything you need to know to solicit contributions.  It is all about communications, human relations, and good manners.


Think of a circle; once you get on you keep going around.  You want to have a circle of communications with your contributors, so your contributors stay with you from first gift, to thank you, to you keeping your promises, and to their giving again.

From the beginning be clear in your request, whether it is for volunteer time or for a gift.  Let your potential contributors know:

  • What problem are you addressing? 
  • Why are you the organization to address these problems and needs? 
  • What successes can you point to that gives them confidence in your capabilities?
  • How will gifts make this happen? 
  • Will gifts pave the way for other funding?
  • What are all the ways they can be involved? Give them a clear description of volunteer, sponsorship, and giving opportunities, including giving levels. 

Then keep this circle of connection, involvement, and giving intact.  Acknowledge every gift promptly.  Regularly communicate with contributors and prospective contributors to inform them of your accomplishments, new opportunities to participate, and how others are involved as volunteers and contributors.

When I was working with volunteers to solicit gifts for the music program at a church, we established one rule about who to solicit. If the family had an interest in the music program, one of us met with them.  This proved successful when a young couple with very young children came forward and gave the lead gift for the campaign in response to one of our volunteers meeting with them. We would not have asked them for that amount, but graciously accepted their gift. Follow the interest!

Human Relations

It all begins with building relationships with people. You want to make connections and build relationships for the life of your organization.   People like to participate with organizations - as volunteers and contributors - where they feel involved and where they relate well with others involved.  More and more people give to where they volunteer and where they spend their time.  The first steps to the gift and the solicitation are getting people involved in your events and your meetings.

Volunteers are vitally important to cultivating and soliciting prospective contributors. Organizations can expand their reach by encouraging their volunteers to connect with people in their network of friends, neighbors, family, and business. The best cultivation and solicitation calls are made by volunteers; followed by an employee with a volunteer; followed by an employee going solo.

When you meet with prospective contributors, here are a few thoughts to get your discussion started and to lead the conversation as to how they will participate with their gift.

  • What is your connection to our work?
  • How do you typically decide which organizations to contribute to?
  • What do you expect from the organizations you give to?
  • Do you have suggestions on how we could improve the information we provide you? 
  • Would you encourage others to give to us? 
  • What is the greatest joy you have had from a gift you made?  Why?

Good Manners

Do what it takes to make the other person comfortable. Good manners answer all the detail questions we have.  From how many times do I need to meet someone before I ask for a gift? Do I write, call, or meet in person?  Remember, simple courtesies go a long way.  When in doubt ask if this is a good time to speak with the potential contributor about a gift and about getting more involved with your organization.   

And always, always acknowledge every gift.  It is the beginning of a long-term relationship and the next gift.


Rita Fuerst Adams transforms charitable and philanthropic organizations at the heart of social change into professionally run, better funded, effective organizations.  For more than three decades, and throughout the U.S., Rita has served charitable and philanthropic organizations with operating budgets of $1 million to $1.5 billion and resulting campaigns ranging from $1 million to $450 million.  Her experience includes working with causes in education, youth, the arts, community and economic development, historic preservation, health care, international relations, and professional and civic affairs.

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Mel King Institute Releases Video Highlighting Impact

July 1st, 2015 by

Learn about the Mel King Institute's mission to help organizations better serve their communities and their six years of impact. Featured stories include North Shore CDC's YouthBuild program that grew from a Mel King Institute scholarship and Angela Kelly's story of going from a LISC AmeriCorps Member to Director of Resident Leadership and Services at Madison Park DC, participating in our trainings and programs along the way. VIEW VIDEO

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