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Community foundations have several attributes that, taken together, distinguish them from many of their philanthropic brethren, including a local orientation, relationships with many living donors, and a public charity tax status. This affects everything from their approach to solving problems to their business model. Because of this, community foundations have sought out support services that are designed for their particular needs. The infrastructure of organizations serving community foundations has evolved, and there has been confusion among community foundations over where to get their needs met and some frustration over the perceived fragmentation of services.In response to these concerns and to create some clarity, CFLeads and CF Insights, both of which exclusively serve community foundations, decided to map out the current support services and lead a discussion exploring a vision for the future. The findings from a survey of a dozen large community foundations and a one-day symposium are summarized here. Hopefully the results of this partnership provide a better understanding of the ecosystem of organizations serving community foundations and some initial thinking on how to meet needs in the future.
Community foundations understand how the traditional community foundation business model falls short of new aspirations. Sustainability is an ongoing challenge and many community foundations work towards continually adapting their business model to support a changing context and achieve enough clarity to do so in a way that is aligned with values, strategy, and culture. In In Align, Adapt, Aspire: Ten Years of Community Foundation Business Model Evolution, CF Insights examines the evolution of community foundation business model and highlights principles behind successful community foundations given shifting community needs, donor priorities, and economic circumstances.
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