Community Philanthropy Update - March 2024

Thursday, March 28, 2024 - 1:45 pm
Natalie Ross
Community Philanthropy Update

Greetings Friend,

Advocacy is an important tool for community foundations to advance their missions. Policy efforts by community foundations have led to local policy success like criminal justice reform, federal funding for community partners advancing renewable energy, nonprofit relief during the pandemic, and more. In addition, a 2020 study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) found that one-third of community foundations that engaged in policy work gained donors due to their efforts to influence public policy.

However, we know that it can be hard to get started. Rules and regulations can confuse your efforts. Your staff and board may not be bought in. You may wonder if it’s worth the time and energy. Practice and Purpose of Policy: A Training for Community Foundation Leaders, on May 21-22, will help you get started. As a community foundation leader who attended this training with a group of their colleagues in 2023 shared:

"This (training) has given us a lot to talk about and lined up how we need to start the advocacy journey. We'll be more efficient because we're starting with this base of knowledge together to move forward.” 

Wherever you’re at in your policy and advocacy journey, we invite you to this training to hear directly from community foundation leaders who are advancing community leadership through advocacy, as well as experts from CFLeads and Council staff.

A 2020 CFLeads report found that 42% of community foundations planned to devote more staff resources to policy advocacy over the following two to three years. We hope this training can help you continue that momentum this year and into the future with the knowledge and skills you need to advance your organization’s advocacy agenda and support your nonprofit partners in policy work, which is especially important in an election year.



Natalie Ross
Vice President of Membership, Development, and Finance

P.S. - We launched a call in January for new leaders to join our Community Foundation Advisory Group and recently announced seven new members! Learn more about the group’s plans for 2024

Upcoming Events

Global Grantmaking Essentials

April 10-11, 16 | Virtual | Training

Virtual Meet-Up: Community Foundation Donor Services

April 24 | Virtual | Peer Discussion

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - April Peer Learning Circle

April 25 | Virtual | Peer Discussion

Community Foundation Excellence (CFE) Fundamentals Course - April 2024

April 25-26, May 1-2 | Virtual | Training

Building Together 2024

May 6-9 | In-person, Chicago | Sector Event

Practice and Purpose of Policy: A Training for Community Foundation Leaders

May 21-22 | Virtual | Training

Legal Matters for Community Foundations

June 5-6 | Virtual | Training

New Member Spotlight

Welcome to the community foundations that have joined as new Council members since our last newsletter! We're excited to have The Community Foundation of Shelby County, Community Foundation of West Georgia, and Luverne Area Community Foundation as new members.

Community Foundation of Shelby County Community Foundation of West Georgia Luverne Area Community Foundation

Resources You Can Use

Question: We have been following recent rulings impacting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts including challenges to DEI programs under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act. Has there been any guidance on funding around DEI efforts that the Council on Foundations has released or be available to discuss in light of the filings and recent rulings?

Ben-McDearmon-circle-newsletterAnswer: The Council is certainly monitoring pending cases brought under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that may affect philanthropy—especially the Fearless Fund and Hello Alice cases. But currently, there are no changes to any legal framework around advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion except in college admissions. The Fearless Fund and Hello Alice cases are pending in the 11th and 5th Circuits respectively, and any decision in either case would be binding only in the respective circuit.

While we are keeping our finger on the pulse of emerging litigation around race-based or race-conscious grantmaking, legally there is no reason that your foundation must change its funding practices. But it is helpful to know that the majority of these actions allege a violation of Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act, which is a claim that rests on the existence of a contract. The only thing that has changed in light of recent litigation is the risk calculation some foundations are making. To mitigate potential risk involved, we advise that any identity-based funding or grantmaking be reviewed so that it bears as little resemblance to a contract as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to substantially reduce or eliminate any requirement/expectation for performance of any tasks as a result of receiving the grant.

In sum, your foundation can and should continue doing any diversity, equity, and inclusion work that it is doing, and we at the Council will continue to monitor the legal landscape and provide any updates if there are any legal changes in one circuit or several.

Council members are able to send their questions to our Legal team for expert advice and analysis. You can take advantage of this member benefit by becoming a member today.

Welcome to the new Community Foundation Advisory Group Members

The Council's Community Foundation Advisory Group assists with strategic decisions related to the community foundation field, represents the interests of their peers across the country, and elevates the issues of most importance to the sector. And we just added seven new members to the group, bringing it to 20 people! Meet the Community Foundation Advisory Group today.

Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey now Open

The 2024 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey is open! We need your participation to ensure the GSB Report remains the most comprehensive guide to compensation and benefits information for philanthropic organizations in the U.S. Plus, participants receive early access to GSB data and a free copy of the report in the fall. Sign up to take the survey.

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