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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The Sustainable Development Goals and Your Community Foundation - Guidebook and Toolkit

August 6, 2020

This Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Guidebook and Toolkit is meant for staff and board members of community foundations at all stages of engaging with the SDGs.The Guidebook and Toolkit is intended to meet community foundations where they are at, to provide practical examples, ideas and steps for aligning current community foundation work with the SDGs, and to provide next steps to deepen their impact through the SDGs. This document is divided into two sections. The first section is an SDG Guidebook. It will introduce the SDGs and provide global, national and local context for the Goals. It will explain why Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) and community foundations are well positioned to align with the SDGs and how the SDGs can deepen collective impact.The Guidebook includes:* An overview of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs* How the global community came together to adopt the SDGs* Key concepts that underlie the SDG Framework and relevance to the work of community foundations* What CFC is doing to advance the SDGsThe second section of this document identifies practical approaches to align current work to the SDGs through an SDG Toolkit. In many cases, community foundations in Canada are already doing work towards meeting the SDGs, and the Toolkit is designed to show how to align current work with the SDG Framework.

The World is Home: A Case Study of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation

January 1, 2017

Silicon Valley Community Foundation – together with pfc Social Impact Advisors – has published a case study to commemorate SVCF's first 10 years. During this period, SVCF made more than $4.3 billion in grants and significantly expanded its charitable reach.The new report provides details about how Silicon Valley Community Foundation was formed in 2007 from the merger of Peninsula Community Foundation and Community Foundation Silicon Valley, and how it has grown to become the largest funder of Bay Area charities and the largest community foundation in the world.Following the historic merger of the two parent foundations, Silicon Valley Community Foundation began seeking public input on how it could best approach the challenges faced by the residents of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. SVCF's discretionary grantmaking focus areas were announced in 2008, supporting local education, economic security, immigration and regional planning that improves transportation and housing systems. In addition to these vital issues, SVCF's family of more than 2,000 donors have used their charitable funds at SVCF to support thousands of local, national and international charities across a wide range of interests, as the case study attests.

Co-Creation: Viewing Partnerships Through A New Lens

May 1, 2016

Collaboration remains an on-going discourse throughout the funder community, but little has been written about explorations or innovations into different ways of working collectively, beyond what was established decades ago.The Connecticut legislation calling for a greater coordination of efforts to improve early childhood outcomes explicitly invited "philanthropic organizations" to partner in the development of new policies and a systematic approach for supporting young children and families. The Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative emerged as the platform for philanthropy to do this work.Similar to other funder collective endeavors, the Collaborative and the state can claim short-term success. They not only had tangible results, but each valued their ability to coalesce to achieve those results. The difference in this effort was the melding of knowledge, networks and funding in a new paradigm. The more difficult question is whether the short-term endeavor creates the necessary conditions to sustain their efforts long enough to realize true systems change and improved outcomes for children and families.For large-scale systems change, co-creation may be a more fitting approach; it acknowledges self-interest, existing alongside shared goals and purpose, as necessary to sustain voluntary efforts. Co-creation is predicated on the notion that traditional top-down planning or decision-making should give way to a more flexible participatory structure, where diverse constituencies are invited in to collectively solve problems.Co-creation doesn't give priority to the group or the individual, but instead supports and encourages both simultaneously. In co-created endeavors, a shared identity isn't needed; members continue to work toward their own goals in pursuit of the common result. Co-creation enables individuals to work side by side, gaining an understanding of the goals, resources, and constraints that drive the behaviors of others, and adjusting accordingly to maintain a mutually beneficial gain.The partnership of the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, the State, and the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy was not originally structured to be an example of co-creation. It does, though, possess many of the attributes of successful co-creation endeavors. Recognizing these similarities in structure and purpose holds much promise to help the public and private sectors understand not only what to sustain, but how best to organize and continue working to achieve the long-term goal.

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

Case Studies: How Four Community Information Projects Went from Idea to Impact

February 1, 2013

Making positive change happen in communities requires the free flow of quality information. We need it to achieve the results we want in education, public safety, environmental protection, youth development -- and just about any other issue that we care about. If the news and information environment is in trouble, so is civic life. Community and place-based foundations across the country are recognizing that, in an increasingly digital world, credible news and information are among the most powerful tools they have to spark community change. Over the five years of the Knight Community Information Challenge (KCIC), more than 80 foundations have invested in various media projects -- strengthening local and state reporting, encouraging citizen dialogue and supporting digital literacy skills -- to advance their goals for a better community.This report offers four case studies on how different foundations used information to improve the healthy functioning of their communities. The cases highlight the following: Why did each foundation support local media? How did it connect to their strategic priorities? What steps did they take to make their project successful? And what impact has it had on the issues they care about? Sharing these cases we hope provides valuable lessons for other foundations considering supporting local news and information efforts and broadening their commitment to using media and technology to engage residents.

Learning to Lead: The Journey to Community Leadership for Emerging Community Foundations: Case Studies

April 13, 2012

These are the stories of real community foundations and the journey to define and embrace community leadership on their own terms:Making Connections to Achieve Tangible Results: Fresno Regional FoundationAs this community foundation learned to convene and connect local groups working on related issues, it also encountered the challenges of choosing right-sized projects that suit its mission, and sometimes saying "no."Helping Boost Philanthropy and Nonprofit Effectiveness: Kern Community FoundationGaining deep experience in an issue area gave this community foundation the credibility and confidence to lead more broadly and invest in an online community knowledge resource.Responding to Rising Needs: San Luis Obispo County Community FoundationFacing a statewide budget crisis, this community foundation rose to the challenge by facilitating dialogue and mobilizing local organizations; in the process, it established a reputation for leadership and opened the door to additional opportunities.

Columbus Survey 2010 Results: Guideposts Point to Growth

May 1, 2011

With this report, CF Insights' aim is to share a snapshot of community foundation asset growth and activity during 2010. The findings are based on over 250 community foundation responses to the Columbus Survey as of March 2011.Participants interested in detailed 2010 results for their foundation can visit to find a wider range of comparative and longitudinal reports. CF Insights members can compare their 2010 performance to peer benchmarks in over 60 online reports. Available metrics focus on asset development, grantmaking, investment performance, and sustainability.And for those community foundations who have not yet contributed data, there is still time. We encourage you to share your 2010 results and use the resources at to create custom reports that put your own foundation's performance in context.As more foundations contribute and 990s are completed, more comparative data will be available and CF Insights will continue to build on this snapshot with analyses based on the growing data set.

Stepping Up

September 21, 2010

Outlines outcomes and lessons learned from an initiative that funded loaned executives to help New Orleans city government strengthen its capacity to coordinate and direct recovery efforts after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Ripple Effect: The Economic Impact of Microlending

May 31, 2010

Examines the direct, indirect, and induced economic effects of the Opportunity Fund's microfinance lending on the Bay Area in terms of economic activity, employee earnings, employment, and tax revenue. Offers data by industry, county, and race/ethnicity.

The Open Space Index

April 8, 2010

This report establishes the 15 Index standards and provides a detailed methodology for assessing open space in New York City neighborhoods. We piloted the OSI methodology on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which was chosen because of its variety of open spaces, rich residential diversity and vibrant history of park and garden advocacy. The pilot found that the Lower East Side performs very well with regard to community gardens, acres of active recreation, and access to parks. It also found, however, that the neighborhood has an urban tree canopy cover of only 14%, far below the US Forest Service's 44% recommendation for that community. And the assessment found that the Lower East Side parks have very little green, natural ground surfacing within its parks.

Learning from the Future: A Resource for Planning Ahead – Five Stories of Community Foundations Using the Stress Test

April 6, 2010

The Economic Scenario Planning (ESP) model is designed to help community foundations of any size and shape create five-year forecasts and plan for multiple scenarios. Community foundations using the model cite important benefits, often revising goals or making operating model changes as a result.The stories that follow demonstrate how using the ESP model helps to:* Integrate perspectives to create a common plan.* Provide a reality check for future goals.* Structure a process to facilitate board discussions about the future.* Catalyze a new call to action.* Track progress towards goals.Stories from five different community foundations highlight differences in motivations for using the model, the way they see the future, and the decisions they are making. However, one benefit is common throughout – having a picture of the future grounded in data helps them create or change the dialogue about what defines sustainability for their foundation in the months and years to come. 

Report On OUSD Board Community Engagement Convenings

October 1, 2009

In the fall of 2008, the Oakland Unified School District's Board of Education members undertook a process to have conversations about academic performance improvement with the school communities at each high school within their district and at all elementary and middle schools classified as "red" schools (the "red" classification indicates a low level of academic performance). As indicated in the design materials, the objectives of the convenings were to:1. Identify school-level strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are shared by schools across the city or within a region of the city that affect a school's capacity to improve student academic achievement.2. Develop Board-level policies that effectively increase the capacity of schools to improve student academic achievement.3. Establish supportive and accountable working relationships between the Board of Education, Superintendent, and school leaders.Prior to the convenings, the Board Members agreed on four basic questions that they would seekto answer through the convening process with each Board Member prioritizing the question(s) onwhich they would focus.1. What are we doing to increase the number of students who:a. High School: stay in school and graduate?b. Middle School: are proficient in Algebra?c. Elementary School: are proficient in Reading?2. What's working?3. What needs to be done?4. What should the Board of Education do to help the school?At their December retreat, the Board Members considered recommendations from the convenings in order to develop the district's Strategic Priority to Accelerate Student Learning & Achievement.