Organized Community Philanthropy Marks its Centennial

October 23rd, 2014

This year marks the 100th birthday of the first community foundation’s founding in Cleveland, Ohio.  During that time, the Cleveland Foundation has awarded $1.7 billion in grants to their community. The Council on Foundations is convening hundreds of community foundations from across the country in Cleveland this week to both celebrate this milestone and share lessons learned. While families have always been at the heart of community philanthropy, it is in the last century that families have employed organized instruments of philanthropy like family foundations and donor advised funds. The past two decades have brought an acceleration of families choosing to give through community foundations (sometimes in addition to their family foundation) for a variety of reasons.  The Douglas Community Foundation in Kansas has named the top ten reasons people give to a community foundation here.

Giving to a community foundation, or through a donor advised fund at a community foundation, is just one of many options for organized giving. The key in picking a philanthropic vehicle (or multiples ones) depends on what goals you are trying to achieve, how much control you want to have, and how much time you want to spend.  The National Center for Family Philanthropy has a Vehicle Comparison Chart and a Family Giving Considerations Worksheet that can help you think through what is right for your family. One of the most interesting trends in the world of family giving is the creative mixing of traditional philanthropic giving tools with new ones, and trends of using donor advised funds to address the geographic dispersion of board members away from the foundation’s home base.

There are many philanthropic tools and instruments for achieving your goals. Before creating your philanthropic plan, spend some time thinking about the pros and cons of each option and what will work best, both for you and those you wish to involve in your giving. Join Holli Rivera for “Oh, the Giving Options!” session on Thursday, October 30th from 11:30am-1:00pm at the Exponent Philanthropy Conference in Washington, DC.

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