Having recently transitioned from the world of politics to that of ‘foundationland,’ I was excited to attend my first CoF Conference and help reaffirm in my own mind how foundations can play a more dynamic role in their local communities through a modernization process of what I have been commonly referring to around the offices of The San Diego Foundation  as Foundations 2.0.
I note the term modernization because on the back of 100 years of successes, it is important to understand the challenges of an ever-changing civic ecosystem if we are to continue being the premier philanthropic torch bearers for another century.
We should be excited that much of this change is being fuelled by technological advances as this will increase the capacity of foundations to connect with their constituency across a range of different mediums. Being able to share your stories, build an emotional connection between donors and initiatives via social media and capitalizing on ever increasing online giving trends is an opportunity that should be unequivocally embraced on a grand scale.
A number of presenters throughout the conference encouraged calculated risk taking as a strategy to take advantage of the opportunities now available. There is no doubt that an entrepreneurial approach from community foundations might in fact be the keys to unlocking civic engagement and participation and helping repair the ever growing disconnect between government and the general public.
Much of the potential for growth also centers on the embracement of regional diversity that was brilliantly articulated by Manuel Pastor in his Trends & Realities plenary. It is important that foundations reflect the communities they represent if they are to be successful and with new trends in giving circles as impactful giving mechanisms, now is the time to get out from behind the desk and into the field.
From a personal standpoint, my a-ha moment was when Gabriel Kasper highlighted in his day 2 speech that the community foundations ‘model’ was not in fact broken because ultimately there was no model in the first place. This revelation confirmed to me that all approaches to growing stronger communities are in fact the right approaches. We learn, we respond and through that process will ultimately be impactful.
I look forward to continuing this conversation with all the new contacts I had the pleasure of making during the conference and tip my hat to all those driving innovative approaches to connect with their communities and facilitate positive change.
Ryan Ginard is manager of charitable giving at The San Diego Foundation.