Monday, July 18, 2005

Wise Words about Community Foundations

I spend a lot of time with a lot of smart people. Last week I had the chance to spend a day with several CEOs of community foundations in Ohio - a smart bunch. Here's a paraphrase of one of the many wise thoughts I heard:

"Community foundations' products are the changes they make happen - whether it be economic development, new housing, or safer kids. That's what we do."
Ronn Richard, President, The Cleveland Foundation

Thinking about community foundations this way puts the communities first, and all the processes, standards, technology, and back office issues second. Focusing this way would be a refreshing mindshift for everyone making decisions about operations, board leadership, marketing, staff capacity, investment strategies, or other structural needs in community foundations.


Anonymous said...

Nice thought, that the product is the result, but what is the business model that supports same? Donor advised funds? Fee based consulting? Endowment? Maybe the products are in competition with Fidelity, but the emphasis on results for the community is the community foundation's "sizzle," or defining difference, that supports the loads in those charitable "financial products"?

Anonymous said...

I hear you. The danger here is that we might take too much credit for work other people have done. Go to just about any COF annual meeting, and you'll witness the sad spectacle of philanthropids applauding the diseases foundations have cured, the homeless they've housed, etc. Like, huh?