Moving Toward Equitable Funding Practices: Findings from Research on Community Foundation Practices

Nov 01, 2020
  • Description

Community foundations can play a powerful role in connecting high-net-worth donors with local organizations working to advance community needs—especially organizations led by people of color. Connecting donors to organizations that are providing leadership and meeting critical needs in the community is one way community foundations can help donors ensure their giving is having local impact and can help strengthen the value proposition for donors to work with community foundations. Recognizing that many community foundations are already playing this role, we wanted to learn more about how they are doing so.

We interviewed staff members from 13 community foundations, representing a range of geographies and asset sizes. We prioritized reaching out to community foundations who already had a point of view on racial equity because we thought other community foundations might be able to learn from their practices to connect donors and nonprofits. The staff members we spoke to primarily led donor services for their foundation, and we spoke to a few CEOs as well. 

In addition, we reached out to four philanthropic intermediary organizations that are structured differently from community foundations and have an emphasis on funding social justice organizations, grassroots organizations, and/or organizations led by people of color. These interviews yielded insight into how community foundations might think differently about their role and practices they could consider to deepen engagement with communities and donors.

This report distills highlights and themes from our interviews with community foundations and other funding intermediaries. The findings are organized around three big questions:

  • WHY Does This Matter? Forming a point of view on racial equity
  • HOW Do We Direct Resources to Meet Critical Community Needs? Ways communityfoundations are connecting donors and nonprofits
  • WHAT Difference Are We Making? Evolving thinking about assessing impact