Interview with W. W. “Buck” Duncan, President of Mid-Shore Community Foundation (MSCF)

Interview with W. W. “Buck” Duncan, President of Mid-Shore Community Foundation (MSCF)

Few people are as familiar to the challenges faced by not for profits in our area during the COVID-19 crisis as the president of Mid-Shore Community Foundation (MSCF), W. W. “Buck” Duncan. Easton Economic Development spoke to him about the COVID-19 Response Fund initiative, which was set up to deploy resources to community-based organizations at the frontline of the pandemic.

EEDC: So how did the idea to support the nonprofits with this funding come about

Buck Duncan: About two weeks ago, we received a request from Talbot Hospice to help fund some PPEs (masks).  We said we’d absolutely do it, and we took the funding out of a particular donor fund. I started to think this was just the tip of the iceberg. I sat down with the folks I work with and asked, ‘how do we expand this notion?’ We first made a proposal to our executive committee who approved it unanimously very quickly, and we set up the initial fund with $100,000. I then went to some businesses that I consider really good corporate citizens, and almost immediately, I got a response back from four of them: Avon-Dixon Insurance Agency, Choptank Transport, Preston Automotive Group, and Shore Bancshares. Today the fund is almost $205,000.

 EEDC: How has the response been from applicants?

Buck Duncan: We have 44 grant requests that are pending. We will begin to process those grants this week. And the grants committee, which are all volunteers, by the way, will be put into teams. And I will try to find geographic representation because we cover the five counties and one member on each team from each County. We will start to divide those grant requests, and we’ll ask our volunteers to prioritize and make the decisions as to who gets funded and for how much (note maximum amount is ($5,000). Once approved, we’ll kick out the checks immediately.

EEDC: What recommendation would you give to an organization not chosen to receive a grant

Buck Duncan: If an organization does not get funded the first time, it is not one and done. Because where we’re going to bring them back again as we get more funding. I can’t tell you how long it can go on, but as long as we got money, we’re going to continue it, I can assure you.

EEDC: Can all nonprofits apply?

Buck Duncan: No, they must be previous grantees of MSCF, and I dare say we’ve probably had relationships with most of not for profits in the five County area in some way, shape, or form.

Buck also had a word for advice for all nonprofits in this time of COVID-19. Without fundraising campaigns, many agencies are facing financial hardship while attempting to maintain their mission

Buck Duncan: I am very concerned about what the not-for-profit landscape is going to look like when we hit the new normal, whatever that is. I could tell you that it is under severe stress. There are an awful lot of not for profits that do an awful lot of really good things, and they may not be around, or certainly, they won’t be around in the state they were a month ago. We’re all about quality of life here in the mid-shore area. And quality of life is a lot of things. It’s dogs, cats, it’s hospices, CASA, it’s the Academy of Arts, it’s the Maritime Museum. It’s a lot of things. And we’re getting to the point now where we’re down to the bare essentials of feeding them, clothing them, sheltering them, getting them health care. There is just not going to be a lot of extra around.

Our checks, they’re just not even going to scratch the surface. I mean, we’re going to have such huge needs out there. In just one week, we got 44 requests. We’re going to give it our absolute best effort and we’re going to do what we can. But the not for profits have got to do a lot themselves. They need to apply for programs they qualify for, such as PPP and SBA loans, and they need to do it pronto. Don’t wait. The SBA already started to take applications, which means those that applied early, they’ve got a loan number, they’re going to get the first loan.

Information about grant funding is available on the Foundation’s website.

Donations can be made online at MSCF.org/donate-online or checks can be mailed to Mid-Shore Community Foundation, 102 East Dover Street, Easton, Maryland 21601. Please indicate that your gift should be directed to the COVID-19 Response Fund.