After seeing that Monica Patten, president and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada, would be a panelist at Measure Progress, Inspiring Action Through Key Indicator Projects, this session moved to the top of my must-attend list. I’ve been very interested in the Canadian Vital Signs project since I first learned of it in Montreal a couple of years ago. I was eager to see how U.S. foundations were executing their own indicator projects designed to gather neutral data and share the results with donors to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
Speaking about Canadian Vital Signs, Patten described the initiative as a way for community foundations to show they are thoughtful, connected to the community, and are able serve as go-to knowledge centers.
Panelists representing U.S. community foundations included Michael Batchelor of The Erie Community Foundation, Charlotte Kahn of the Boston Indicators Project, and Jennifer Evins of The Spartanburg Community Foundation. Though their history with community indicator projects varied (The Erie Community Foundation just unveiled its project in June, while Spartanburg has been reporting on community indicators since 1987), there were several common threads among the projects:
As a communications professional, I was most interested to hear how the panelists were going beyond grantmaking to use the data for community engagement. Panelists mentioned reporting on indicators online, via community reports, and through community town hall-style meetings. The Erie Community Foundation is also communicating about their indicators via their gift remittance envelopes.
Following the session I still have loads of questions swirling around in my head. The one that stands out is how can a connection be made between community indicator data and a www.kiva.org or www.DonorsChoose.org model of giving for community foundations? If you have any additional examples or ideas please share.
Amanda St. Pierre is the public relations and marketing specialist of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation