During the nine years that Mr. Christ served at the Battle Creek Community Foundation, he worked to considerably improve the organization’s financial standing. Assets increased from $13 million to over $55 million, and the number of donors doubled. He initiated a charitable gift annuity program to enhance the sustainability of the foundation. Mr. Christ also deeply valued and strove to add to the diversity of the board, staff, and volunteers of the organization. Mr. Christ believes that collaboration between foundations and grantmakers is key to empowering individuals and communities in creating change that is impactful and lasting.
While serving as the CEO of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Mr. Christ was integral in the efforts to develop a common computer software accounting system that would meet the needs of all community foundations in Michigan. Up until that point, Michigan foundations used a variety of different systems, which created a range of problems and inconsistencies. The Council of Michigan Foundations facilitated meetings of community foundations to discuss the possibility of developing a common system, and after extensive meetings, the collective approached the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with a proposal.
The collective worked with Kellogg Foundation Program Director for Philanthropy and Volunteerism Joel J. Orosz, resulting in the development of a system called the Foundation Information Management System (FIMS), which was fully-integrated and created especially for community foundations. NPO Solutions, Inc., the company that developed FIMS, was very small at the time and computerization of community foundation processes was limited. The Michigan contract helped grow the company into a national vendor, while affording Michigan community foundations the opportunity to shape the development of the software to meet their common needs. Given the differences in size and complexity of Michigan’s community foundations, two related systems were developed; FIMS for mature foundations, and FIMS-light for newer foundations. FIMS is still used by most community foundations in the country. In 2001, NPO Solutions, Inc. was acquired by MicroEdge, LLC.
During his tenure at the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Mr. Christ met regularly with a small group of his peers at CMF in order to discuss new initiatives and to provide overall leadership to the development of the community foundation field in Michigan.
The list of organizations that Mr. Christ served as a board member, chairman, volunteer, or consultant over the last 50 years is staggering. He greatly contributed to a significant number and wide variety of philanthropic organizations that focus on education, health, and community development in Battle Creek and the southern Michigan area. Currently, Mr. Christ is affiliated with the Battle Creek Rotary Club, Battle Creek Area Educators’ Task Force, NorthPointe Woods, First Presbyterian Church, and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.