CF Insights asks a very simple but important question: "What if each community foundation could know what all community foundations collectively know?" This collection features research produced and funded by community foundations, and other resources relevant to the field. Contact us at and visit us at

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Trusting What We Don't Know: Lessons from an Experiment in Art, Environment and Philanthropy in California's East Bay

August 4, 2015

This essay aims to capture the technologies of engagement and participation that have distinguished the Open Circle approach to art funding by highlighting some of the artists and projects funded over the last fifteen years. The philanthropic practices enacted by Open Circle could be instructive to other funding entities seeking to balance the pressures between wanting to make a lasting impact with a finite pool of resources. Specifically, this case study provides useful insights into the possibilities of crafting giving initiatives that consider the competing agendas of:spreading funds widelyoffering multi-year funding for singularly successful programsproviding both seed funds for incipient ideas as well as more substantive funding for mature art endeavors