The Community Foundation of Acadiana is open to the idea of taking over nonprofit or “external agency” funding from city-parish government. CFA Director Raymond Hebert says the organization has been in talks with several city officials about the idea over the past year. Councilmen William Theriot and Jared Bellard are introducing an ordinance at tonight’s council meeting to zero out LCG’s supplemental funding of local nonprofits. The ordinance would phase out funding for external agencies over the next three years; reducing it by 33.3 percent each year. The ordinance also redirects the remaining three years of funding to the Community Foundation of Acadiana, which would then decide how the funds get distributed among the agencies. The hope is that the Community Foundation may, after three years, be able to build up private donations to continue some funding for the nonprofits on an annual basis. LCG has a total of $452,000 budgeted this year for nonprofits. The money is spread among 23 local agencies, including Festival International ($72,000), the Lafayette Council on Aging ($38,722), the Lafayette Community Health Care Clinic ($31,461) and the Acadiana Arts Council ($69,409).
Hebert stopped short of endorsing the Theriot-Bellard ordinance, but says the CFA is open to assisting LCG. “We’re not endorsing or opposing this proposal,” he says. “There are a lot of different ideas out there. And this is not something we sought out. We’ve been called to the table.” Hebert acknowledged another idea being discussed is for LCG to continue funding nonprofits, but that the grants be awarded through the CFA, as a means of removing politics from the process. The CFA is itself a nonprofit, specializing in setting up donor-based grants that go to nonprofits, schools and faith-based organizations. The CFA currently distributes more than $3.5 million a year.
“We’re only promoting that if there’s an opportunity for us to enhance this process, if there’s an opportunity for us to enhance the good nonprofits that do such good work, then we want to participate somehow, someway,” Hebert says. “Ideally, we would like to be in a position to have discretionary dollars that we can grant on a competitive basis. We’re interested in enhancing quality of life in our community and if our experience, if our expertise can offer some value to the process, then we want to participate. If it can’t offer any value, we really don’t want to participate.”