Michael L. BatchelorCorporate Giving and Community Foundations—A New Model to Leverage Philanthropy?

By: Michael L. Batchelor In: Community Foundations| Corporate Philanthropy

6 Jan 2011

Erie Insurance, a Fortune 500 corporation headquartered in my hometown, knows how to sell and service insurance policies through its network of agents in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Erie Insurance also knows that community foundations are smart and efficient grantmakers.

I was recently invited to a companywide meeting where Erie’s dynamic CEO, Terry Cavanaugh, reviewed the company’s 2010 performance and thanked thousands of Erie-based employees and 23 different Erie Insurance branch location employees via live broadcast. At the event, I was honored to symbolically accept a check for $75,000, made on behalf of its employees, that was distributed to 23 different community foundations located close to Erie Insurance branch office communities.

While the individual gift to each community foundation is somewhat modest, the collective idea is quite big. Erie Insurance is leveraging its community outreach efforts with our expertise. This is a new and interesting model—one that other companies nationwide should consider pursuing.

Community foundations are uniquely positioned to identify needs and galvanize the necessary resources to address them. Our knowledge is valuable to national corporations, individuals, and other foundations wanting to make strategic and meaningful grants in local communities. It’s a natural partnership that should continue to be explored and encouraged.

Many don’t fully understand the important and evolving role of community foundations since the first one—the Cleveland Foundation—was founded in 1914. We have seen exponential growth and a significant transformation in the structure, role, and impact of community foundations. Today, more than 700 community foundations are marshaling resources to advance the common good. And there are now more than 2,000 such organizations globally, including Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

According to the Foundation Center, giving by community foundations has increased from $183 million in 1981 to more than $4 billion in 2009 and the most recent asset levels hover around $50 billion. Investments span the spectrum, including support for local programs or initiatives to fight poverty, strengthen the economy, improve education and health, and more.

It’s clear community foundations have evolved from organizations that just cut the checks into strategic community leaders and driving forces for collaboration and results.

Michael L. Batchelor is president of The Erie Community Foundation

4 Responses to Corporate Giving and Community Foundations—A New Model to Leverage Philanthropy?

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January 7th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CouncilonFoundations, ACTion Alexandria, Ryan Justis and others. Ryan Justis said: Good read on the possibilities to leverage Corporate giving and Community Foundations to maximize impact. http://bit.ly/hZwIde [...]

Diane Solinger

January 20th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Community foundations are a fantastic resource for companies to leverage for grant making and local/regional expertise. Through collaboration with EF, several community foundations are working to provide a comprehensive approach to corporate philanthropy which leverages the expertise that community foundations have in grant making and local knowledge, with what EF has expertise in; strategic program development and tactical support for other means of philanthropy such as employee engagement, employee giving and other aspects of a comprehensive program such as internal and external communications, sustainability and international programs.
This offering to companies provides a soup to nuts approach to helping the corporate sector develop and implement effective and scalable philanthropic and community engagement programs.

Diane Solinger
Executive Director

Allyson Reaves

January 20th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for sharing this Michael. We’re putting together a thought paper on how community foundations can revisit the traditional business model to better support community leadership activities, and corporate partnership is one of the options that some foundations are reporting tremendous success around. Looking forward to others’ thoughts and work on this.

Dr. R. Rajaraman

January 28th, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Hi; please excuse me for I am not sure if I am in the right place. Please dirert me to the right place. I am a retired professor from the Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. Canada. I have discovered a novel mode of cell division termed neosis which is involved in the birth and continuous proliferation of all types of cancer cells. (Pleas find all about neosis in the internet by googlin for he words “Neosis + Rajaraman”). In support of this. it has been recently shown that neosis appears to be the morphological manifestation of the phenomenon known as the epithlial-mesenchymal transition or EMT. It is also known that cancer cells oscillate between epithelail and mesenchymal stages several times during growth. Evidence accumulates against the currently popular concept of Cancer Stem Cell (CSC) Hypothesis. My concept supports an alternative process other than the CSC hypothesis and therefore, I am having a tough time even publishing my concept. in the meanwhile, I have identified several neosicides (agents that will inhibit neosis). I am sure we can cure cancers within a year or two by following my procedure I cannot do this without financial help. I would greatly appreciate if you can guide me to the correct funding authorities. Thank you for your time. Dr. R. Rajaraman; brightline@hfx.eastlink.ca

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