Community Philanthropy Update - June 2017

This month I’m highlighting the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations® program, which I’m delighted to report continues to add distinction to the work of the field.

I'm also sharing several other resources below to help kick off the summer season, including “21st-Century Tools for 21st-Century Community Foundations,” a piece released by our friends and underwriter of this month’s community foundation newsletter, Guidestar.

As members of the Council, thank you for your investment in the leading organization representing the interests of community foundations across the U.S. Our many resources and programs are only a part of what we offer our members. We can also help you connect with peers and colleagues doing remarkable work across the U.S. Simply reach out, and we are glad to see how we can help.

National Standards Remains Highest Mark of Credibility:

The Council has invested over $500,000 in the last three years in National Standards, and for good reason.

Of the 780 community foundations nationwide, 500 participate in National Standards. This is why at the federal level, the National Standards program was recognized in drafting legislation for the IRA Charitable Rollover. Specifically, the Council’s legal team edited and drafted language to assist tax-writing staff with putting forth the least onerous requirements for DAFs to accept tax-free IRA contributions. Stay tuned to see if this legislation is introduced as part of tax reform. 

Two community foundations in California and New York demonstrated on a local level they were capable of adding millions of state grant dollars to their charitable grantmaking because of their accreditation. Both reported the third party review of their policies and procedures was an important factor in each state’s review of their grant applications

Continued Improvements for National Standards

Many community foundations spend countless months preparing for the accreditation process, and most of us recognize the actual accreditation process—the peer and legal reviews—takes just as long.  This is an issue our team continues to address.  The National Standards program is currently in the middle of its technology transition. The director and the administrator of National Standards continue to field hundreds of calls and emails regarding the application process and status of individual submissions. Additional peer and legal reviewers are being added to its roster to improve the submission and review processes going forward. All this data reviewed had me wondering: what trends have emerged?

Testimonial of National Standards

A few trends revealed in the Standards process:

  • When the markets are underperforming, 30 percent of accredited community foundation boards approved spending greater than endowment returns (underwater funds) to maintain grants during harsh economic times
  • 79 percent of accredited community foundations provide a gift receipt to donors within two weeks from the date of the gift
  • 10 percent of accredited community foundations s report being audited at least once by the IRS
  • 69 percent of accredited community foundations have a policy regarding the number of successor generations allowed for a donor advised fund and
  • 52 percent of accredited community foundations do not allow more than two generations of advisors
  • 11 percent of accredited community foundations work with donor advised funds to do impact investing
  • 50 percent of accredited community foundations use the Council’s Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report

And with that final stat, I’m pleased to share the tandem release of the 2016 Full Report and 2017 survey launch for Grantmaker Salary and Benefits will be forthcoming the last week of June!  Stay tuned.

New Report on Tools for Community Foundations

GuideStar has published “21st-Century Tools for 21st-Century Community Foundations,” a new report that identifies websites, software, and applications to help community foundations keep up with developments in the community foundation landscape, connect nonprofits with donors, tackle grantmaking mechanics, evaluate effectiveness, and increase grantmaking efficiency with integrated systems. Central Florida Foundation, the Council on Foundations, Exponent Partners, and Foundant Technologies contributed to the report. Download your free copy from the GuideStar website.

Business Model Disruptions—Next Up: International Giving

Community foundations across the U.S. continue to download the opinion piece, Community Foundation Business Model Disruptions in the 21st Century, which is an easy read on trends and issues facing our business model around asset growth. Countless community foundations have reported the discussion guide remains a useful tool among board and staff on the critical issues raised in the paper.  

So, what is the next disrupter of the business model to be discussing? I am eagerly awaiting the next published paper by the Council: Local Communities with Global Reach:  International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations.   

Evolving trends among donors’ giving patterns and communities facing a shifting demographic caused by a more mobile, connected society—as well as migration, immigration, and diaspora populations—is changing the meaning of being a local, place-based institution. 

As the report from the Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations reveals, U.S. community foundations are engaged globally, and in this published piece you will see how this might support the growth of locally driven community philanthropy around the world. Stay tuned for this engaging report about another growing trend and its implications on our business model as a local, place-based institution.

Op-ed on Council’s Board Chair—Javier Soto, Miami Foundation

Don’t miss Ruth Shack’s heartfelt take on the critical leadership Javier Soto of the Miami Foundation has provided his hometown of Miami and why his appointment as the Council’s new Board Chair is timely for the Council. Ruth is a former Council on Foundations Board Vice Chair and President Emeritus of the Miami Foundation. Read her thoughts on the Miami Herald’s website

Upcoming Events

Available Recording on Legal Matters and Corporate Donors

Did you miss the webinar with our legal counsel, Suzanne Friday and myself, Brad Ward the philanthropy director, on “When Corporations Come Knocking: Working with Corporate Donors and Employer-Related Funds?”  Don’t worry, you can check out the online recording, which is a member-only benefit. You’ll learn the legal considerations you need to take into account as you develop strategies for growing assets and relationships with corporate donors.

Scholarships as Donor Revenue Source AND Impact Driven?

Research from the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) finds that donors believe the top two advantages of working with a community foundation are personal service and demonstrable impact in their local community. Unfortunately, CEP also found that impact often takes a back seat to donors’ perceived interests. 

The competition for donor resources has led some community foundation CEOs to focus on being responsive to donor interests and needs in a way that undermines the foundation’s ability to work strategically. The focus on the donors becomes an end in itself, rather than a means to achieve community impact.

So what's the solution? National College Access Network has one surprising word for the field: scholarships. Read their paper to find out why. It offers insights to community foundations that need assistance in understanding how to reach maximum effectiveness and impact with their scholarship funds.

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