July 24, 2015

The Future of "Community" for Community Foundations

A great piece by Emmet D. Carson, CEO & President of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region is proud to administer and assist several funds that provide aid in other countries, including the Women’s Global Giving Fund and Drilling for Hope.
Community foundations have existed for more than a hundred years by adhering to a simple proposition: they exist to serve their local communities. Today, this proposition is being challenged by an increasingly global, twenty-first century mindset and amazing new technologies that strengthen connections even as they weaken the importance of place. As a result, the definition of “community” is changing, and community foundations must ask themselves: Will we change with it?
…We are all part of multiple communities based on professional and personal interests that do not necessarily stem from or exist within a defined geography. Some of these communities exist only in cyberspace. And yet people have — and will always have — a direct connection to the place where they currently live. This presents a significant challenge — and a huge opportunity — for community foundations, which increasingly must figure out how to respond to locally based donors who support causes and organizations outside a foundation’s stated geographical boundaries.
Put simply, community foundations that can address both the local and global philanthropic interests of their donors are the ones most likely to grow over the coming decades….
Providing grants to nonprofit organizations outside of a community foundation’s stated geography is not a new idea. Community foundations regularly review and approve grant recommendations from donors to their out-of-state alma maters. What is new is the growing interest among donors nationwide in causes based in other places, along with their desire to partner with an organization that can provide them with a turnkey philanthropic solution to make that happen.