Community Foundations

  • Every major city has a community foundation which is where people have given money, to be held in trust, until the donor or the board of directors distributes grants. Some CFs are very, very large (think billions of dollars investments) and some are small. All are legally required to give money away.
  • For two years I worked as the CFO of a community foundation. Nothing gave the staff and board more pleasure than giving away money. It was so much fun to see the faces, hear the stories, and dream about how much more could be done for the region.
  • CFs have major classifications for grant-making:
    • donor advised funds (DAFs) – the donor recommends to the CF which non-profit should receive a grant and how much the grant should be
    • field of interest funds – the board gives money to organizations which meet the donor’s criteria when the fund was established such as literacy, health, etc.
    • unrestricted – funds which the board gets to distribute according to their wishes and the grant requests which are received by the staff
  • CFs are in the business of helping local non-profits – most CFs have a geographical restriction – and improving the quality of life in their community. They are tied to their community – the staff and board shop in the same stores as you do, worship in the same churches, attend the same movies and theaters, etc. These people know what is going on in their city and they want to make it a better place.
  • Many churches have high net worth individuals who already have DAFs with the local CF. Churches would be well-advised to meet with their local CF staff to get to know them, to be known, to educate the CF of what the church wants to do, and seek ways to partner together.
  • A church can also work with the people who already have DAFs to educate the church leadership about how the church can work with other high-net-worth individuals (whether they are members or not) to accomplish what the church wants to do.
  • CFs are experts on all local non-profits. If your church wants to do something, meet with the CF staff to learn about other non-profits with which the church can partner to accomplish far more than each can do separately.
Lead On!