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Thought Leadership Philanthropy

Filling empty stockings and empty backpacks

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By Lauren Jeong, program associate, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Each holiday season, Empty Stocking Fund sets up “Santa’s Village,” where Atlanta families that qualify for public assistance can shop for toys for their children. But what some may not realize is that Empty Stocking Fund works all year to help children and families. 

Recognizing that it had unutilized capacity in the non-holiday months, the organization began looking for ways to use its capabilities for greater impact year-round. In 2017, Empty Stocking Fund began subleasing the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s Kids In Need program space, which functioned as free school supply store for teachers. Both organizations saw the potential for greater collaboration. 

The organizations received a grant from the Community Foundation’s Strategic Restructuring Fund to assess partnership feasibility in 2018. The Strategic Restructuring Fund provides funds and/or management consulting services to support nonprofits as they assess, negotiate, design and/or implement restructuring efforts that promote more effective operations and high-performing programs. In some cases that could mean partnering with another organization for mutual benefit and more powerful impact. 

The assessment process highlighted the win-win benefits for both organizations of transferring the Kids In Need program to the Empty Stocking Fund. In July 2019, Empty Stocking Fund officially absorbed the Kids In Need program with generous support from the Atlanta Community Food Bank through the transition process and a second grant from the Foundation’s Strategic Restructuring Fund. 

With its expanded services, Empty Stocking Fund distributed 3,500 class kits and 6,000 backpacks to Atlanta Public School students this year and will provide 40,000 holiday gift packages this holiday season. 

If your nonprofit organization is considering a strategic partnership or an operational shift, learn more about how a Strategic Restructuring Grant could help guide those efforts on our website

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