Leadership attracts assets and each day community foundations are maximizing opportunities in the community for growth and impact. Yet, community foundations are still grappling with ways to prioritize and balance community leadership and donor engagement, as well as how to finance and measure their work inclusive of all organizational investments beyond traditional grantmaking and convening. And, to do this work with even greater speed, sophistication, and coordinated effort across the organization and community.
When leaders from approximately 48 Pennsylvania-based foundations gathered in State College in April for the Council on Foundations’ Pennsylvania Philanthropy Conference, the negative effects of the state’s infamous nine-month budget impasse on human service delivery were painfully fresh. Nonprofits, especially agencies with state and county contracts, were worn down by months of financial uncertainty. Staff and clients felt underserved by elected officials of both parties in Harrisburg.
I have attended a lot of conferences over the years and have always felt driven to go to as many sessions as possible, to gather information and knowledge to bring back to my colleagues at the Maine Community Foundation. This time around was no different: I set out to get the latest on National Standards, to explore issues related to endowed philanthropy, to learn how community foundations and United Ways can do more together.
United States Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Nani A. Coloretti addressed the annual conference Sunday to describe the federal government’s multi-pronged effort to support American communities and how HUD has developed new strategies in meeting the challenges of today’s population.
On November 8, 2015, millions in Myanmar went to the polls to cast their votes – many for the first or second time in their lives – for members of the Union Parliament as well as for the 14 state and region parliaments. After decades of military rule, this marked the country’s first election in which all political parties participated, and on March 15, the new Parliament elected the new president, Htin Kyaw. To bridge this crucial voter information gap, The Asia Foundation turned to Myanmar’s small but rapidly growing tech community. On September 12, just two months before elections, more than 130 developers and designers in 30 teams entered the MaePaySoh Hack Challenge, a competition to create mobile and web applications that are user-friendly, fun, and full of essential information for voters about the general elections.
I find myself at the Council on Foundations after eight years of leading a growing Community Foundation because I believe in this institution. I believe it is an intersection between the broad philanthropic sector and an extremely localized community focus. I believe in community place-based initiatives, and I adamantly defend our role as endowment builders for our communities. It is the single-greatest offering we provide our donors, nonprofits, and communities—a lasting vehicle to change the world, at least or little corner of it.
Historically, community foundations have worked to create change by making grants to local nonprofits, advocacy groups, and other organizations. But a new breed of funders is showing how, by serving in yet another role, they can foster change that is more comprehensive, more responsive to residents’ needs, and, hopefully, more enduring. This role involves reaching into the very roots of the community to its people, and empowering them.
My journey with community philanthropy began when I accepted we all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will. This is why I have an endowment with my local community foundation and I suggest you consider the same to make a difference in the world; at least your little corner of it.
The Year in Review highlights the scope of the Council on Foundation's work in 2015.
Sessions for the Pennsylvania Philanthropy Conference taking place January 25-26, 2016.