RE: Philanthropy Blog

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 1:35pm

As one who has been in the field as a community foundation CEO since 1994, I have seen many themes. We were sorted by asset size for many of our conversations in the belief that such distinctions defined our capabilities and philanthropic contributions. (We now understand that was absolutely false.) There was the theme that "the Council isn’t doing enough for community foundations," which resulted in the founding of another organization (no longer in existence). There was the "we must maintain donor-advised funds as ours alone" theme (which obviously failed). There was the "are we donor-centered, or are we community-centered" question, and the resulting focus on donor-advised funds as THE answer (a more balanced, community-directed approach—rather than a product-based approach—has replaced it). There was the "On the Brink" conversation, which warned us of the changes we have been seeing in recent times. And there was a general conversation last year, discussing the assumption that the field did not hear the warnings of "On the Brink," and therefore our infrastructures are broken. (They are not, and we have indeed modified both our revenue streams and the nature of the work we do).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 1:31pm

I’m a native New Orleanian representing the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF) attending the Fall Conference in New Orleans. Some might call it fate. I call it homecoming.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:47pm

As a “newbie” to the community foundation field in 2007, the first thing I did was attend the ProNet annual meeting in San Francisco, where I met about 75 other program staff from across the country. I was amazed by the geographic diversity and the warm reception by the “ProNetters.” And I was relieved to find a community I could connect to in the community foundation world. I ended up joining the steering committee.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:35pm

My brother-in-law, Alfredo, is a trauma paramedic. He works in an emergency room every weekend from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He shares his workday the way I might share mine. “Had some coffee, saved a life, did some paperwork, saved a life….” And yet he somehow remains connected enough to his work to persevere past exhaustion and stress and chaos. He works with fervor to keep families intact with a passion that inspires us all. Can you imagine a paramedic saying, “Sorry about that stroke, but I have to finish my paperwork.”? Alfredo has a healthy shade of jade—one that I admire and aspire to. (Thank you, Alfredo, for everything you do!)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:21pm

At this morning’s opening plenary, Grant Oliphant talked about the difference between a revenue model and a business model. A revenue model is how you make money, such as providing services to donors and charging a fee. A business model, on the other hand, is how you add value—for example, helping to identify community priorities and marshaling resources to advance them. All too often, he said, we talk about the former when we should be talking about the latter.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:16pm

In preparation for the conference, I scanned the event schedule a few times for the sessions most relevant to my involvement in the community foundation world. The conference has a breadth of participants, and technology is making it easier than ever to explore resources and connect with people who share an interest in civic engagement. To really dig in and get the most out of the experience, I decided to go all in on the various technology sessions the organizers had set up for this event. By now, most people have heard of that little thing called Facebook, but the richness of that communication method goes well beyond “liking” the Council on Foundations Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:13pm

Do you ever wish that your foundation had more money to solve social problems and transform your community? As need grows faster than grant dollars, many foundations are making mission and impact investments in order to unlock new capital for social good. Community foundations are investing discretionary and donor-advised assets to produce social and financial returns, and private foundations are doing the same with their investment portfolios. CEOs and trustees are discussing whether to make below-market PRIs, program-related investments, market-rate MRIs, mission-related investments, or all of them. In the same way foundations look to partnerships, host convenings, and inform public policy to augment what grants can accomplish, foundations are increasingly seeing impact investing as a viable tool to solve social problems.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:02pm

Many people believe facilitation is a role that only designated individuals can play in meetings or planning sessions. But just as leadership is more about how you behave than what your title is, so is facilitation about the contributions you make regardless of your role.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 11:59am

On the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Within hours, it became one of the deadliest and costliest hurricanes in U.S. history. As a Southern funder, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation recognized that while Katrina was an equal opportunity destroyer, it was not going to be an equal opportunity recovery due to the economic and racial inequities present before the storm. Seven years after Katrina, low-wealth and minority communities along the coast continue to struggle with rebuilding their lives and communities.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 11:56am

As our colleagues head to New Orleans this week for the Council on Foundation’s fall conference, the city’s community foundation is serving as a great example of investing in ways to keep residents informed about local issues.