Community Foundations – Q & A with Nonprofit Consultant Diana S. Newman

Category: Strategic Planning

Q: What are some general trends you’ve noticed lately within community foundations – has anything changed significantly over the past few years?

A: My work for and with community foundations spans more than 20 years. I’ve seen several trends recently.

  • Community foundations are becoming more nimble and responding to emerging issues, opportunities, and needs, often in partnership with other local organizations, institutions, and businesses.
  • Community foundations are becoming more “donor friendly.” They are working with donors to help determine the most appropriate gift for the purposes most important to each donor.
  • Community foundations are actively pursuing incentives to increase charitable giving, such as the expansion of the IRA Charitable Rollover, maximizing charitable deductions, and reinstating an appropriate estate tax.

Q: What is the most relevant advice you could give community foundations?
A: Be transparent! It builds the community’s confidence. On the foundation’s website (and in printed materials and face to face conversations), potential donors and their advisors should be able to access the foundation’s audited financial report, investment and spending policies, and ways to make current and legacy gifts. Nonprofit organizations should be able to readily find the foundation’s grantmaking priorities, application process and deadlines, and examples of past grants and how they have impacted the community. And don’t forget to list the staff members’ names and contact information.

Q: What interests you most about working with community foundations?
A: Community foundations are often the catalyst for finding solutions to persistent challenges and taking advantage of exciting opportunities. They pull together diverse people, institutions, and resources to produce innovative and sustainable results. I find it fascinating to participate in such creative and sparky collaborations.