When disaster strikes, who do you call first? Unless she’s a volunteer firefighter, you probably didn’t say your accountant. Foundations are often the first to offer critical resources to charities that are on the ground helping serve the immediate needs of victims. But when a private foundation wants to act in times of crisis, they often have to call the lawyers and accountants first.
Private foundations make grants based on charitable endowments. The endowment funds come from one or a small handful of sources -- an individual, a family or a corporation. Because of their endowments, they are focused primarily on grantmaking and generally do not raise funds or seek public financial support the way public charities (like community foundations) must.
“Private foundation” is the umbrella term that includes corporate, independent, family, and operating foundations. As of 2011, there were 73,764 private foundations in the United States (Foundation Center, 2011).
In 2011, private foundations held more than $604 billion in assets and gave away more than $45 billion (Foundation Center, 2011).
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The idea of coordinated giving days is gaining momentum. These social media campaigns provide an image-building opportunity for community foundations as well as opportunities to build the capacity of our grantees to raise money for themselves. Rather than providing technical assistance, project management, and marketing services, the best investment community foundations can make, consistent with their convening role in the community, is to build the incentive pool for the giving day. Here is why: