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Driving Change in Northern Cincinnati

Erin Satzger and the Northern Cincinnati Foundation eye sustainability and long-term vision for good.

by Sarah M. Mullins

The Northern Cincinnati Foundation (NCF), which uses philanthropy to connect people and causes to create positive change, was founded in 1999 by a group of women known as the Kitchen Table Board. Initial efforts focused on fundraising for cancer research and donating to various causes in northern Cincinnati communities.

After evolving into the grassroots organization it is today, NCF is a testament to the power of community engagement and the ripple effect of giving, says Executive Director Erin Satzger. Her journey with the foundation has been more than a career—it’s a lifelong commitment that started when her mother was on the original Kitchen Table Board. “I grew up helping and volunteering for the foundation when it was first started,” says Satzger. “I still remember there was this really bad fire in the community around Christmas time. I was very young, and mom put me in the car to go help get toys and furniture in a warehouse. And I remember thinking that was so profound—I was happy to help, and so was my sister. We were just born into philanthropy.”

Knowing that nearly half of all nonprofits fail within their first 10 years, Satzger’s goal is to help NCF beneficiaries focus on sustainability. The total charitable assets under its management has grown 71 percent since 2018 to nearly $25 million, with 75 percent of those assets endowed and available in perpetuity. “We really want to help make other nonprofits sustainable,” she says. “We make sure we’re good stewards by showing them how to thrive not only today but 100 years from now, so they can serve the same cause and have the same impact.”

NCF is also focused on addressing critical need areas identified through a needs assessment; the top areas include leading literacy for kids kindergarten through third grade, workforce development, and transportation. Two of the foundation’s many success stories are the EDGE Teen Center, which helps children engage in positive activities and behaviors, and Reach Out Lakota, serving families in need. “It’s important that every community has some access to a food pantry because people fall on hard times and need help,” says Satzger. “We’re really proud of them. They’re building quite a robust endowment and working on their long-term plan.”

The foundation also launched a podcast called What Gives, featuring conversations with business leaders and community builders discussing how business and philanthropy work hand-in-hand. Well-known guests include Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini and Josh Heuser, owner of AGAR marketing firm and Ghost Baby bar in Over-the-Rhine.

Satzger says NCF will continue to build endowments for area nonprofits and to help northern communities in need. “I find that the Cincinnati community is so generous with so many causes,” says Satzger. “We’re blessed at Northern Cincinnati Foundation to be working with so many great business owners, families, individual fund holders, and nonprofits that want to do good.”