Nonprofit Organizations

Community Foundation Approaches to Effectiveness: Characteristics, Challenges, and Opportunities

December 14, 2006  • Francie Ostrower

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Community foundations are legally classified as public charities. As such, they must demonstrate that they enjoy broad public support. Thus, unlike private foundations (that are typically endowed by one source), community foundations must continually raise funds from many donors. Community foundations’ dual role as fundraiser and grantmaker within this legal context is key to understanding how they approach effectiveness and the challenges and opportunities that they face ? the subject of this paper. Study findings indicate that community foundations need to develop and articulate a more specific and realistic definition of effectiveness that is consistent with their mission. After presenting the findings, the paper suggests one approach. The paper’s focus on community foundations helps to fill a gap in the foundation effectiveness literature, which has focused primarily on private grantmakers.