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Leaning into Relationships for Greater Impact: Resources from and for community foundations

While community foundations have always existed to support local donors who want to give back to their community, many are now exploring how they can deepen their impact by leveraging their unique strengths and relationships with both local donors and nonprofits. Many of these foundations are centering racial equity in their work out of recognition …

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While community foundations have always existed to support local donors who want to give back to their community, many are now exploring how they can deepen their impact by leveraging their unique strengths and relationships with both local donors and nonprofits.

Many of these foundations are centering racial equity in their work out of recognition that, in most communities, race is the biggest driver of disparity on a range of issues that impact residents’ and communities’ ability to thrive. As a result, these foundations are engaging with nonprofits and donors in new ways such as deepening relationships with nonprofits working closest to the issues in communities and communicating a stronger point of view with donors about where their giving can have greatest impact.

Community Wealth Partners has partnered with dozens of community foundations as they work to center community voices in their strategies, direct more resources to BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving nonprofits, and partner with donors in new ways.  While these foundations differed in terms of size, geography, and grantmaking priorities, each of them has shown commitment to listening deeply to nonprofits and donors, centering the voices of the people closest to the issues in communities, and trying new ways of working in response to what they’ve learned.

A few new resources summarize themes from what these community foundations have tried and learned and provide in-depth examples of what’s possible:

  • Activating Donors for Change synthesizes insights from community foundations who participated in a cohort program facilitated by Community Wealth Partners.
  • A case study of the Pittsburgh Foundation offers an in-depth look at internal changes the foundation has made to bring greater alignment in pursuit of shared goals.
  • Listen, Learn, Act, written by Heather Peeler of ACT for Alexandria and published on Fund for Shared Insight’s blog, shares what happened when the foundation gave community members a seat at the table throughout the strategic planning process.

It’s exciting to see the ways in which community foundations are leveraging their roles and relationships to help create more equitable communities. We hope these resources offer inspiration and guidance for other community foundations considering ways they can deepen their impact.

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