Archive for the ‘Community Foundations’ Category

The shootings in Newtown, prison overcrowding, disproportionate minority confinement and Attorney General Holder’s recent advocacy for increased judicial discretion for “low level” offenders have placed increased pressure on community foundations to respond to new community and policy realities. Three leading foundation executives and the director of San Diego’s Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention will [...]

As a part of the staff of CF Insights, I have had the pleasure to work with the community foundation field for almost 4 years now and still I’m amazed at the ways the field as a whole contributes to the success of individual community foundations by sharing insights, data and support. [...]

In June, I had the pleasure of introducing four recent graduates of the Cleveland School District at the Cleveland Foundation’s annual meeting. We wanted to showcase top achievers to put a human face on the investment we’ve made in the future of Cleveland’s young people. These college-bound students are a fitting example of why philanthropy [...]

The Northern Virginia region includes Loudoun County, a traditionally rural area that has seen drastic suburbanization and growth in the past two decades. The shift in its focus and population caused those of us at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia to ask an age-old question: How do we engage donors in this area to [...]

Two years ago, Endeavor Foundation’s board of directors challenged staff to think beyond providing fund services and facilitated grantmaking by expanding our mission. Through a strategic planning process, we determined Endeavor should be a long-term advocate for Northwest Arkansas. Many refer to that as “community leadership.” Many in our region of 500,000 believe we’ve already [...]

This year, Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is celebrating its 10th anniversary operating as a community foundation serving “Indian Country”—generally defined as the land and communities within American Indian reservation boundaries as well as off-reservation trust lands. Since 2002, ILTF has invested nearly $20 million in grants and programs that support efforts to return control [...]

I first started working in the community foundation field more than 15 years ago. It goes without saying that I’m a big fan. I believe in this democratic model of philanthropy where the collective power of many creates powerful change. I’m also a fan because most community foundations understand that our work is constantly changing [...]

It’s Community Foundation Week, a time to focus on philanthropy as the giving season warms up and the temperature outside cools down. Many of us look forward to evenings spent snuggled up under a warm blanket, sipping a hot drink, and settling in to catch up on some reading. Any chance your reading list includes [...]

This past January, awards season wasn’t just in Hollywood. In west-central Minnesota, West Central Initiative (WCI) awarded a share of $75,000 to 15 of its component funds for successfully meeting WCI’s 25th Anniversary Endowment Challenge.
In the spring of 2011, WCI—a regional community foundation that serves nine Minnesota counties—launched the challenge to encourage its component [...]

The city of Charleston, W.Va., is embarking on a new beginning as it molds a revolutionary program for young professionals: Early Dynamic Guided Engagement (EDGE). The three-year program offers recent college graduates the opportunity to live in the heart of downtown Charleston for a subsidized cost while they participate in charitable activities, meet current leaders [...]

In the early 1990s, I spent a year living and working in Uganda. One day I was with some friends driving back from a trip to one of the beautiful game parks there. It was late afternoon and not long before darkness would set in. We decided to pitch our tents by the side of [...]

The Knight Digital Media Center is expanding its reach to help community foundations shape their strategies to inform and engage communities in the digital age.
To reflect this new emphasis, we have redesigned and refocused the KDMC website as a learning resource for community foundations and others seeking to develop and sustain local news and information.
On [...]

There are 717 community foundations in the United States making grants of about $4.6 billion in their communities. I know because it’s on the cover of a publication about community foundations.
What I don’t know is why anyone would care.
It’s not just that we should be talking about the impact that we have in our communities, [...]

As a young professional and a newcomer to the field of philanthropy, the sessions at the Council on Foundations Fall Conference in New Orleans earlier this month offered a lot in the way of introduction. Not only an introduction to new colleagues from all over the map, but also to variations of the story of [...]

It’s a continuing debate with foundation management: What are we going to do with our donor-advised funds (DAF)?
Do you grow this area with time and resources? And if so, are the risks finally being offset by a greater return at the foundation level?
There is no denying that DAF programs are popular and donors [...]

In my last job, the learning curve seemed to remain vertical for much of my tenure, occasionally even tipping backwards. As is often the case in nonprofit organizations, the person I replaced had left somewhat suddenly and with much of the information about the position, although probably neatly organized, still in her brain. With no [...]

Though the scalding heat of summer is likely to last for at least another month in Arkansas, the summer season is ending for many students as they prepare to return to school. As these students soon will do, funders and government staff recently gathered with sharpened pencils to learn together at Foundations 101.

Cosponsored by the [...]

What do Texas preschooler Owen Hernandez and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have in common?  As you’ll see during the Learning Lab, “Business Champions for Young Children,” at next month’s Fall Conference for Community Foundations in New Orleans, they both believe in the power of quality early learning to help children succeed in school and [...]

This fall’s CCFE public policy seminar for community foundations will be hosted in New Mexico. The seminar is intended to provide community foundation leaders with the necessary skills and tools to advocate and engage in public policy on behalf of the philanthropic sector. As a faculty member facilitating the CCFE course, it will be my [...]

In recent years, I’ve witnessed two interesting trends in philanthropy that are particularly resonant with community foundations. First, there has been a backlash against “strategic philanthropy” and accusations that foundations have become too focused on measurement and planning, using top-down approaches instead of nimbly responding to emergent and changing community needs. I wrote about this [...]

Twelve years ago, the Baton Rouge Area Foundation tried what it thought was an unconventional move. Anxious to jump-start the downtown area, the foundation convened community and political leaders to devise a strategy for reclaiming the area where our city was born.
More than $2 billion has been invested in public and private ventures since then. [...]

More than 30 U.S. community foundations have taken a fresh look at aging in recent years. And they are bringing a new view to their communities—one that considers older adults to be a vast, untapped resource for social change.
As part of the Community Experience Partnership, an initiative of The Atlantic Philanthropies, these community foundations assessed [...]

Passion, integrity, and engagement: These are the key ingredients to successful outcomes or growth in a community (well, everywhere, really). It takes passion to get involved and make changes. It takes integrity be steadfast and do what you say you are going to do, especially when facing the extraordinary challenges we see today in communities, [...]

In the U.S., more than half of the children younger than a year old are of color and almost one in every 10 counties is majority-minority. By 2023, the majority of U.S. children will be of color. And by 2042, people of color will comprise the majority of the entire U.S. population. These demographics have [...]

I’m feeling “old.” Not as opposed to “young,” but as opposed to “new.” I think it’s all this talk in our sector lately about innovation. Whatever happened to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” It’s just oh so sexy and attention-grabbing to label something as “new” even when it’s not.
OK, so I’m sounding like [...]

The Fall Conference for Community Foundations* is fast approaching. I want to make sure that you are aware of several opportunities at the conference to learn about the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations™.
Developed in the spirit of accountability, transparency, and continuous self-improvement, National Standards are evidence that community foundations are committed to excellence [...]

We know donor-advised funds (DAFs) are the engine of growth for many community foundations, but what do we know about the role they play in our communities? This is an often-discussed and debated topic among community foundation staff and boards.
Thirty-one community foundations representing approximately one-third of the field’s DAF assets shared data on more than [...]

Why do community foundation CEOs pursue “community leadership” as a key organizing strategy in their foundations?
Because there was a leadership void in our community and we realized we were uniquely positioned to step up.
Because we recognized we had important assets that could help address the huge challenges facing our community.
Because under the status [...]

In our role at FSG, we are professional advocates for strategy as an essential aspect of leadership to advance community solutions. Why does strategy matter?  The “you can’t be all things to all people” message is one of the simplest refrains—in the words of Michael Porter, this concept is “Strategy 101.”  And as people with [...]

At Placer Community Foundation, our small staff of just 3.1 full-time employees means we need a staffing model that works incredibly well. We made a couple of decisions early on that really helped shape how we staff.
First, we decided to focus on bequests. We knew that the professional adviser network of attorneys, CPAs, and others [...]

How should a mid-sized foundation position its initiatives in this age of austerity and how can one county and community foundation influence state-level decisions? These are questions that the Erie Community Foundation asked when it planned an early childhood education initiative more than a year ago, knowing that it would not be able to increase [...]

On May 15, the San José City Council approved a strong municipal ordinance that will curb the impact of predatory payday lending on residents of America’s 10th largest city. The vote, on a motion by Councilman Ash Kalra, is the latest and largest victory in Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s ongoing advocacy [...]

What business does a community foundation have hawking for-profit deals to its donors and other community members?  How does it improve the quality of life in their community?  How does it promote the spirit and practice of philanthropy and service?   Well it turns out, some community foundations think that it has plenty of relevance to [...]

For today’s post, we’ve asked two leaders to weigh in on topics of interest to young, growing community foundations. Their organizations—Kern Community Foundation and The Community Foundation of Mendocino County—participated in Community Foundations Initiative II, a multiyear initiative by The James Irvine Foundation to accelerate the growth and leadership of a group of emerging community [...]

I recently signed a check for our 2012 Council on Foundations dues. Since I’m the chair of the Council that is probably not surprising. But that’s not my day job. My paycheck comes from being the CEO of Berks County Community Foundation. I was the first employee hired by the foundation, and, like any foundation [...]

Over the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with a set of small, young community foundations in under-resourced parts of California as they aim to grow faster, smarter, and increase the positive impact they are having in their communities. With Irvine’s Community Foundations Initiative II (CFI II), I have learned one [...]

In the United States, community foundations serve tens of thousands of people, administer more than $49 billion in charitable funds, and address the core concerns of more than 725 communities and regions.
Not only are these community-based foundations a valuable sources of local wealth held in perpetuity, they’re led by a local board [...]

As my colleague Peter Pennekamp from the Humboldt Area Foundation says, when it comes to community leadership it’s not always the most pressing issue that you need to be working on; it’s the issue where there’s energy and heat. In a word: tension. And in our community, there’s tension around immigration.
In the next 25 [...]

From April 29-May 2, Los Angeles will play host to the 2012 Council on Foundations Annual Conference. As a member of the planning task force and the foundation community of L.A., I want to extend a special invitation to community foundations to participate.
Jim Canales, president of the James Irvine Foundation, is conference chair and has [...]

Attending this week’s annual Knight Foundation Media Learning Seminar in Miami, we were struck not only by how much has been accomplished by the Knight Community Information Challenge (KCIC), but also by how much the conversation has evolved. It was just a few years ago that Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO [...]

As community foundations become active leaders in local news and information, many are learning they don’t need to go it alone. A variety of different partnership models are emerging and they are detailed in a new report by FSG for Knight Foundation.
The report is aimed primarily at foundations entering the news and information field, but other [...]

On January 9th, Wall Street Journal blogger Veronica Dagher posted an article highlighting the opportunity for philanthropic donors with Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) to create a “double bottom line.” Dagher points out that donors at large national funds, such as Schwab, are increasingly looking not only to create social impact by spending their money in [...]

I looked down at my phone as it began to ring and I screamed with frustration, “Seriously? Again?!? Don’t they realize that it is 3 p.m. on a Friday?” That was the tagline I was known all too well for when I did housing relocations for tenants. Housing inspectors would notoriously find a home to [...]

I’ve long been wary about in-house videos. Because, let’s face it, videos can be tough to pull off. So it was with some trepidation that we decided not just to make our first set of short videos this year, but to feature them at our 25th anniversary annual meeting-indeed, to make them the centerpiece of [...]

A recent New York Times op-ed by Ray Madoff, entitled “Tax Write-Off Now, Charity Later” poses several theoretical challenges to Donor Advised Funds. The article suggests that donors’ charitable dollars can sit in “holding pens” for decades. Moreover, it suggests that these funds are managed by institutions that may have little incentive to help communities [...]

Last week was a quiet one at the Maine Community Foundation — not! Between debriefing about the annual Inspiring Philanthropy evening and preparing for the upcoming Feed a Family campaign, we barely had time to celebrate Community Foundation Week.
The Maine Community Foundation hosts its Inspiring Philanthropy evening around this time every fall. It’s an opportunity [...]

My trip last week to Washington, D.C., was easy and productive thanks to the Council’s great government relations team. I wanted to meet with members and staff of Montana’s congressional delegation to brief them on our transfer of wealth study and some new information we have about population changes in our state. All of that [...]

So how did you find out about community foundations? For many generous people, the answer is: their lawyer, their accountant, their financial adviser, the key professional they trust to help them make a difference with their charitable dollars.
Seven years ago, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham recognized the important role of these advisers by establishing [...]

There are a lot of things to love about Centre County, Pa. Beautiful natural features. Ample opportunities to socialize. An open and accepting attitude among residents.
And according to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, qualities like that create a sense of attachment that inspire Centre County residents.
The Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community [...]

In mid-2008, The Denver Foundation started to receive calls from food pantries, reporting that demand was up 20, 30, even 40 percent.
Donations? Those were flat or down. At the same time, Colorado ranked low in comparison to other states when it came to distributing food stamps to eligible families. Frontline organizations serving the hungry were [...]

On behalf of the entire team at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Community Foundation Week! We’re pleased to celebrate by sharing how we work with other community foundations across the country.
In 2004, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation established the Greater Horizons brand. We did this for [...]

Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) is a part of a much larger movement that is nearing the end of its first century of existence. As we compare ourselves with older community foundations across the nation, we realize the magnitude of the work we are doing — and the work that’s ahead of us. Established 16 years [...]

This past Tuesday we celebrated National Philanthropy Day, a day to celebrate the good that’s happened, the change that’s been created, the effects of philanthropy, and the generosity of others. At a luncheon today in Omaha, our local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals will be honoring amazing philanthropists and volunteer fundraisers from throughout [...]

Ten years ago, The Denver Foundation embarked upon an uncharted journey to help nonprofits and funders connect with communities of color. With the creation of the Expanding Nonprofit Inclusiveness Initiative (ENII) in 2001, and its evolution to the Inclusiveness Project in 2007, we quickly moved from focusing on diversity and numbers to supporting meaningful engagement through [...]

As a community foundation, we are always talking about our role connecting “people who care” with “causes that matter.” When we award grants from our funds, people don’t usually know who’s behind the fund name-and they should! It’s time we tell our fund founders’ stories. So we created some public service announcements to bring donors’ [...]

Given the prolonged economic crisis, individuals and families are increasingly making difficult choices between urgent needs such as housing, medical care, and food. A new California state law that removes unnecessary paperwork and fingerprint requirements for those eligible to receive food stamps will help make some of these choices a little easier.
Last month, Gov. Jerry [...]

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham celebrated a special occasion last week — our annual Community Builder luncheon — that provided a great setup to Community Foundation Week.
As we recognize the people who have shown their commitment to the Birmingham region by making a bequest to the Community Foundation, we see around us the effects [...]

At the 2011 Council on Foundations’ Fall Conference for Community Foundations in September, Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO and President Emmett Carson told the audience the current financial model may be broken: “In five or 10 years, I fear that many of the institutions in this room won’t be here. Revenues aren’t meeting expenses. Other people [...]

“The Golden Hour”– that is what medical professionals call the first hour after a traumatic injury like a heart attack or a car crash, when a victim stands the greatest chance of survival if treated. But, when the patient lives at least a half hour’s drive from a hospital or clinic, as many do here in [...]

Being a fall associate at the Council on Foundations comes with a steep learning curve. One of the areas I knew the least about was community foundations. First, what is a community foundation? Second, and more important, how can community foundations make an impact on policy at the state and federal levels and what can [...]

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


Candace Winkler
Jessica Bearman
Omar Brownson
Mae Hong
Jack A. Calhoun
Stephanie Hyre
Jill Nash
Diane Melley
Heather Scott and Shelton Roulhac
Robert K. Ross
Mike Sweeney
Tina Arnoldi
Carrie Varoquiers
Heather Lord
Erica Wood
Josh Viertel
Cole Wilbur
Margaret Gage
Robert Giloth
David L. Waldman
Ashley Blanchard
David P. Janes
Dinah Waldsmith Dittman
Collis Townsend
Nancy Jost
Amy Ellsworth
Rotary International
Scott Hudson
Mark Hecker
Stephanie de Wolfe
Judy Sneath
Nicole Taylor
Lyle Matthew Kan
Mayur Patel and Diana Scearce
Allison Lugo Knapp
Michael Moody
Rick Mappin
Ophelia Basgal
Heather Bennett
John Feather
Michele Frix
Mena Amin
Jeff Pryor
Tracy Viselli
Brenda Campers
Lynn Broaddus
David Colby
Mark Carpenter