Community Philanthropy Update - July 2021

Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 4:30 pm
Kathleen Enright

A worldwide pandemic is something that few of us expected to experience in our lifetimes. As the global community continues to struggle through the hardships of containing the pandemic, funders are demonstrating the many ways we can learn from each other, especially in times of crisis.

Although the United States is home to the first community foundation, created in Cleveland in 1914, it is not the birthplace of community philanthropy. Today, many countries are adapting our community foundation model, often adding their own twists and tweaks to fit local contexts and culture. From the United Kingdom and Europe to Canada and Mexico, the community foundation model is not just growing, it’s thriving across the world.

As community foundations continue to grow and evolve in their work across our country, there’s much that American community foundations can learn from peers. As part of the Council’s global program, we’re in regular contact with other community foundation networks and leaders who are doing important work like:

  • A cross-border effort to map transnational communities like Connecting Communities in the Americas, including community foundations throughout North America
  • A field-wide data exercise that measures the quality of life of communities, called Vital Signs, which is primarily led by Canadian community foundations
  • An initiative to help community foundations connect their work locally to global development goals, like Connecting Community Foundations with the SDGs in Europe
  • An ambitious effort to think about how we can shift power to local communities and ensure funding decisions are informed by and shaped by the recipients, like the Global Fund for Community Foundations’ #ShiftThePower work in South Africa and beyond.

These are just some examples of how community foundations across the world are striving to better understand the needs of their community and help all people thrive. We hope these resources and  global connections with peers can help you think about your work in new ways.

As we continue battling this global pandemic, and as the world gathers remotely for the upcoming Olympics, I’m hopeful about the future knowing that community foundations like yours have peers across the planet working hard to build a better tomorrow.



Kathleen Enright
President & CEO

Upcoming Events

Council Events

SDG Learning Community for Community Foundations
August 17
Join us for the launch of a new Peer Learning Circle, hosted by the Council and chaired by the Central Florida Foundation. This workshop is dedicated specifically to community foundations that are working on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Register Now >>

2021 Virtual HR Retreat
September 8-10
The 2021 Virtual HR Retreat, co-hosted by the Council on Foundations and CHANGE Philanthropy, is a unique opportunity to learn from and engage with fellow HR and talent leaders in philanthropy. This year's retreat is focused on re-opening workspaces and what a new "normal" and re-imagined work world will look like.
Register Early >>

JUST OPENED: Community Foundation Excellence Fundamentals
October 13, 14, 20, and 21
A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This traditionally in-person, two-day course was adapted to virtual in four half-day sessions to help new and growing foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need.
Register Now >>

Save the Date: 2021 Public Policy Summit
November 4
Join us for the Council on Foundations' virtual 2021 Public Policy Summit, where philanthropic leaders from across the country will get an insider’s view of the policy landscape in Washington, DC.
Learn More >>

JUST OPENED: Community Foundation Excellence Fundamentals
December 8, 9, 15, and 16
A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This traditionally in-person, two-day course was adapted to virtual in four half-day sessions to help new and growing foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need.
Register Now >>

Partner Events

Save the Date: 2021 Annual National Conference for Growing Community Foundations
October 13-15
Join the Kansas Association of Community Foundations for a three-day exploration of the theme "Heart of Community," with ample networking opportunities.
Learn More >>

CFLeads Fall Forum
October 19-20
This year's forum for community foundation leaders will offer a hybrid model, including both in-person and virtual conventions for staff and board members. 
Register Now >>

Member Spotlight


Maine Community Foundation

In recent years, the Maine Community Foundation adjusted its strategic direction to tackle climate funding head-on, with a focus on energy efficiency, conservation, and hosting the Maine Climate Leadership Fund. Learn more about their progress over the past five years.


Rhode Island Foundation

In partnership with Governor Dan McKee, the Rhode Island Commerce Department, and the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Rhode Island Foundation established the COVID-19 Vaccination Incentive Fund. This fund serves the dual purpose of encouraging Rhode Islanders to get their COVID-19 vaccine and providing support to nonprofits that proved instrumental in pandemic recovery – for every 5,000 citizens who get their first vaccine dose, a grant will be awarded.

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Miami Foundation and Key Biscayne Community Foundation

A group of community foundations collaborated to support healing efforts for the citizens of Surfside, FL after a condominium collapsed there on June 24, killing dozens. The Miami Foundation and the Key Biscayne Community Foundation were two of the partners in the establishment of a relief fund.

Have a story of impact you want to share? Email us at

News & Resources

Trending Philanthropy Exchange Conversations

The Philanthropy Exchange is a peer-to-peer platform that connects Council members around shared interests, topics, or resources. 

Legal Question of the Month with Ben McDearmon, Staff Counsel

Question: Is it permissible for a community foundation to pay a scholarship award directly to the student?


Yes. As long as it is allowed under your foundation’s scholarship policy, you could write a check to the student rather than to the school they are attending. However, if you choose to do this, you should be sure to include language in your scholarship letter stating the types of permissible expenses that may be paid using the scholarship and note that any amounts not used for qualified tuition and related expenses may be taxable to the recipient. You should also require the student to sign and return a copy of the letter confirming their acceptance of the grant terms. It’s also recommended (although not legally required) that you request documentation of the student’s enrollment (i.e., a statement of tuition paid to the school, or a copy of their transcript for the year).

Council Members are encouraged to send any legal inquiries to

New & Noteworthy

  • Apply today to be considered for the Community Foundation Racial Equity Training offered by ABFE. Staff and trustees from selected community foundations will develop a deep understanding of advancing racial justice and strengthening equitable practices in philanthropy. The deadline to submit applications is August 6.
  • From the Global Fund for Community Foundations: The $33M Giving for Change Program, led by a group of four global funders, fosters community giving as a method of civic participation and advancing democracy. Read about the coalition’s efforts to #ShiftThePower to countries like Ethiopia, Palestine, and Brazil.
  • Community Foundations & Media: Funding Data from 2009-2021, a new report from Media Impact Funders, unpacks the recent relationship between community funders and the news industry. Since 2009, $19.6B has been awarded in grants to the U.S. media, of which $1.1B came from community foundations. Read the report to learn more.  
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