Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

April 17, 2007

Community foundations making markets

Community foundations are growing rapidly and poised for leadership.

Creating a marketplace that connects donors and nonprofits, community foundations are enjoying the most rapid growth in organized philanthropy.

Last year, according to a new report on foundation giving by The Foundation Center, community foundations’ assets and giving grew faster than that of independent and corporate foundations.

Giving by community foundations grew an estimated 13.2 percent to a record-high $3.6 billion, the report says, compared to growth of 11.7 percent in giving by foundations overall.

While they represent 1 percent of all foundations, community foundations account for nearly 9 percent of all foundation giving.

Assets of community foundations grew 15 percent to a record-high $44.6 billion, compared to asset growth of 10 percent to 12 percent for foundations overall.

And new gifts from donors to community foundations grew 44.8 percent to an all-time high of $5.6 billion.

The boom in gifts to them and in their assets and giving reflect efforts by community foundations to operate and market themselves more effectively, particularly to professional advisers like lawyers, accountants and financial planners who work closely with wealthy clients.

But a growing number of community foundations also are playing an increasingly vital role in raising public awareness about local needs and issues, convening local citizens and groups to talk about addressing those issues, and connecting donors with causes they care about.

If they can operate effectively and openly, and engage nonprofits and donors in an inclusive and responsive marketplace for the exchange of philanthropic resources, community foundations can serve as a hub for civic engagement and charitable giving to address critical local needs.

They also can play an increasingly vital leadership role in a society that is crying for leadership in the face of escalating social problems.

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