Report outlines future of U.S. community foundations

A new report indicates that community foundations are entering a pivotal era and that the next 20 years will be a period of great promise and important challenges for the community foundation field.

The report, On the Brink of New Promise: The Future of U.S. Community Foundations is published by Blueprint Research & Design and The Monitor Institute and funded by the Charles Stewart Mott and Ford Foundations.

On the Brink of New Promise

The study on which the report is based looked at the entire field of community philanthropy, which the authors defined as the “practice of catalyzing and raising resources from a community on behalf of a community.” The authors point out that community philanthropy has evolved over the years, and while community foundations focus primarily on specific geographical regions, geography has become just one way in which people identify their communities.

The report contends that community foundations will be required to begin looking outward for opportunities for growth and partnership and, in some cases, will be subsumed by other foundations or organizations. This comes after a period when community foundations focused inward to improve their operations as they faced competition from for-profit money management institutions.

“What’s clear is that in the coming years, community foundations will face a far greater challenge than they have in the past to define and act on their distinctive value to their communities,” said the authors in the report’s introduction. “The good news is that this next era is ripe with choices and opportunities.”

The report’s authors are Lucy Bernholz, Katherine Fulton and Gabriel Kasper. Bernholz is founder and president of Blueprint Research & Design, Fulton is president of the Monitor Institute, and Kasper is a strategist with the Monitor Institute.

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