Blog: Newsletters

Community Philanthropy Update - December 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve learned from you this year.

When I transitioned to the role of Director of Community Philanthropy in 2016, from running a community foundation in Indiana, it was extremely important to me that I spoke to community foundation leaders about the present and future needs of our field. My goal was to use what I learned to create a focused learning journey and connections to topics and issues that are important to you.

Throughout the year, I spent countless hours on the telephone, corresponding through email, and traveling across the country for in-person meetings and convenings. For those of you who I was unable to meet with in person, please know your colleagues have given me a deeper appreciation of the specific needs of our field—and for all intents and purposes, inspired me to continue to advocate on behalf of community foundations within our rapidly changing (at times seemingly disruptive) sector.

It was staggering to learn how similar your needs and interests are to one another. At the same time, you remain innovative and creative in your work to offer solutions that are unique to your own community. Your ingenuity to make the most of community philanthropy for the constituents you serve is inspiring, as is your willingness to learn from one another and advance the broader field of community foundations.

It feels so inspiring to know I was able to play a small part this year in advancing community philanthropy. Thank you for what you do, and I hope in 2018 you will consider becoming part of our membership—making a national presence possible for our field by investing in the Council. To learn more about how to become a member, call 703-879-0645 or email our membership team.

Happy holidays,

Brad Ward
Director of Community Philanthropy


Earlier this week, I sat down with Natalie Ross, the Council's Senior Director of Global Philanthropy and Partnerships, to discuss the North American Community Foundations Summit taking place in Mexico City, February 5-6, 2018. We covered a lot of ground including how the Summit came about, the convening’s focus on connecting local work to the Sustainable Development Goals, what sessions and speakers we were most excited about, networking opportunities, and how to best experience our host city. I encourage you to listen in on our conversation — available on the Council’s Facebook page— then register.


In 2014, the Cleveland Foundation launched the Community Foundation Atlas to provide the sector a comprehensive source of data about community foundations and philanthropy across the world. Since several years have passed, the information has become outdated. Several organizations have come together to determine the best way to develop information to support the field of community philanthropy and are requesting your input via a brief survey.


The recently released Notice 2017-73 describes three important donor advised fund (DAF) issues that the Department of Treasury and the IRS plan to address with upcoming regulations. The Notice seeks comments from the field and provides some initial guidance. One issue, whether donor advised funds can make grants to satisfy pledges made by the donor, has raised some questions.

The Notice provides that a DAF sponsor (such as a community foundation) need not determine whether a donor/advisor has made a pledge before sending a DAF distribution to a charity, and the distribution will not result in an impermissible benefit to the donor/advisor, even if it turns out that the donor did make a pledge to the charity, provided certain conditions are met:

1) the sponsoring organization makes no reference to the existence of a pledge when making the DAF distribution;

2) the donor/advisor receives no other benefit as a result of the distribution; and

3) the donor/advisor does not attempt to claim a second tax deduction for the distribution to the charity.

The Notice also states that “Taxpayers may rely on the rules described in section 4 until additional guidance is issued.” The Council would caution community foundations not to interpret this Notice as a green light to begin paying donor pledges with DAF funds, or to market the ability to satisfy pledges with DAF funds to donors. Rather, it is our interpretation that this Notice serves as assurance that DAF sponsors and donor/advisors will not be penalized for DAF grants that may be used to satisfy pledges if the sponsoring organization was not fully aware of the existence of a pledge or the status of that pledge as an enforceable obligation of the donor.


As traditional media continues to shrink, and trust in journalistic institutions reaches an all-time low, Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to get the information they require. It’s time for a new national conversation – and new solutions – for fostering more informed communities. Join the Knight Foundation in Miami, Florida Feb. 19-21 to learn more and get replicable ideas for strengthening local news, community and democracy. The conference is underwritten by Knight Foundation and is free to attend. Register at



Upcoming Events

  • Jan 10, Feb 14, Mar 14 - National Standards Conference Call
  • Jan 23 - Data: Not Another Four Letter Word
  • Feb 7 - Efficient Impact Frontier
  • Feb 5-6 - North American Community Foundations Summit
  • Feb 15 - Digital Security and Your Foundation: The Good, Bad, and the Ugly
  • Mar 18-21 - CFUnited Conference – COF sessions TBA
  • Apr 11-13 - Public Policy Summit – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

2018 Legal Matters for Community Foundation Workshops

  • Mar 28 - San Antonio, Texas
  • June 28 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • July 24 - Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Sept 27 - Hartford, Connecticut

2018 Community Foundation Excellence Courses

  • Mar 7-9 - CF Excellence: Fundamentals course – Denver, Colorado 
  • May 16-17 - CF Excellence: Finance – Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • July 17-18 - CF Excellence: Fundamentals – Baltimore, Maryland
  • CF Excellence – Affiliates online course


  • May 23-24 - Economic Prosperity: Southern Philanthropy – Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • Aug 22-23 - Economic Prosperity: Midwest Philanthropy – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Sept 12-13 - HR Summit – Denver, Colorado
  • Oct 14-16 - Growing Community Foundation Conference, Wichita, Kansas
  • Fall - Endowments & Finance Summit – Dates and location TBA

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