Council on Foundations' New Strategic Direction Sets a 20-Year Vision

Monday, July 26, 2021
Washington, DC

Today, the Council on Foundations announced a new strategy that sets forth a 20-year direction heading for the organization. Motivated by a vision of philanthropy as a trusted partner in advancing the greater good, the Council’s new strategic direction challenges philanthropy to make progress on a set of key outcomes, including:  

  • embracing better philanthropic practices because it improves our relationships,
  • diversifying the philanthropic leadership table because doing so improves ideas and results, and
  • collaborating more closely with each other and with nonprofit, government, and community partners because working together helps us to make lasting change.

Over the next 20 years, the Council on Foundations will support the philanthropic sector to embrace better ways of operating, build common ground, and expand philanthropy’s opportunities to thrive. Building on the Council’s strong existing programs and services, like Career Pathways, legal resources, and work with Capitol Hill and the executive branch, the strategy also introduces new and expanded facets of work for the organization, like a focus on convening conversations that bridge divides in search of common ground and developing a more accurate narrative about who participates in philanthropy.

“At a time when philanthropy faces mounting critiques, the Council on Foundations will support the field to restore trust in philanthropic institutions in the United States and around the globe,” said Kathleen Enright, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “We can build trust by ensuring our field is constantly striving to be more diverse, inclusive, and ethical. The Council will guide philanthropy in this work with the ultimate aim of helping more people see themselves as part of philanthropy because we have successfully advocated for a fairer application of tax incentives, challenged the boards and staffs of philanthropic organizations to match the rich diversity of the populations they serve, and ensured that flexible grantmaking practices that build trust with nonprofits are the norm.”

An inclusive strategy development process generated insights from hundreds of diverse thinkers and doers across the philanthropic sector, ultimately resulting in this 20-year direction for the Council.

“The Council’s new strategic direction centers trust as a north star for our organization and for the field of philanthropy,” said Tonya Allen, Chair of the Council Board and President of the McKnight Foundation.  “By advocating for a supportive federal and global environment for philanthropy and equipping our members with the skills, experience, and fellowship they need to grapple with the significant challenges of our time – from racial inequity to global poverty to climate change – we can grow trusted relationships and partnerships and, ultimately, achieve more together.”

For more information, visit www.cof.org/strategy.

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About the Council on Foundations

The Council on Foundations exists to help philanthropy be a trusted partner in advancing the greater good. Building on our 70-year history, we are charting a course where funders earn and maintain the public's trust by advancing equity, operating with high integrity, collaborating on broadscale challenges and serving as ethical stewards. Learn more about the Council and becoming a member by visiting www.cof.org.