Growth Factors in Community Foundation Development

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In September 1982, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation made the first of four grants to the Council on Foundations to provide technical assistance to smaller, new or revitalizing community foundations. By providing direct assistance, the Mott Foundation hoped that emerging and revitalizing community foundations would be better able to grow and serve their communities.

In mid-1986, after considerable growth in demand for technical assistance, the Advisory Committee to this project decided to train a small group of new consultants to expand the work then resting on the shoulders of the program’s pioneer, Mr. Eugene Struckhoff (known as “the Johnny Appleseed of community foundations.”)  Clearly, the time was ripe to transfer his knowledge and technique to others, thereby safeguarding the field in the long run.

In 1985, as the Council was re-designing its program, its proposal to the Mott Foundation proudly acknowledged that “a great deal has been learned about characteristics that are important for community foundations and processes that help them grow and develop.” The Mott Foundation thought it important that these lessons about community foundation growth be articulated and documented. In further support of the need to preserve and transfer the knowledge gained to a new body of consultants and supporters of community foundations, the Mott Foundation commissioned Rainbow Research to produce this Study Guide.

“Growth Factors in the Development of Community Foundations: A Study Guide for Technical Assistance” intends to support the goals of the On-Site Consulting Program.  It intends to be a training tool for consultants serving emerging and revitalizing community foundations, to be a self-help tool for emerging and revitalizing community foundations in guiding their own growth and development.  It intends to inform private foundations and other potential supporters of community foundations of the issues of community foundation growth and development.

“Growth Factors in the Development of Community Foundations: A Study Guide for Technical Assistance” is organized around five major Growth Areas:

SELF-UNDERSTANDING. An emerging or revitalizing community foundation needs an understanding and appreciation of what a community foundation is and what it can do.

BOARD COMMITMENT. An emerging or revitalizing community foundation needs Board members who commit themselves and rise to the challenge of development.

ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY. An emerging or revitalizing community foundation needs basic tools needed to begin and sustain operations.

ASSET DEVELOPMENT. An emerging or revitalizing community foundation needs to develop financial assets.

COMMUNITY ROLE. An emerging or revitalizing community foundation needs to develop a useful role in the community.

This publication has had considerable influence, informing training activities conducted by the Council on Foundations.  Its lessons are echoed in the Council on Foundation’s leadership development activities, and has informed the work of CFLeads as well.  It also informed the work of a number of private foundations around the country as they design programmatic initiatives to strengthen community foundations and the role they play in communities.

 

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Originally appeared: Publication of Rainbow Research, Inc.

Number of pages: 53    Original date: 1988

Author: Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D., then Executive Director of Rainbow Research, Inc.

Effective Communities Project

Minneapolis, MN

USA