Building Community Capacity: The Potential of Community Foundations – A New Introduction
By Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D
Increasing community capacity should be on the agenda of every community foundation.
Building Community Capacity: the Potential of Community Foundations relates how small community foundations can get bigger, stronger, and more useful to their communities. This small book, endorsed as essential reading in the field of philanthropy, summarizes the work of the Ford/MacArthur Leadership Program for Community Foundations. Operating from 1987 to 1993, this initiative is the best I’ve seen at incorporating principles of organizational growth and community leadership development. The book details the critical features of this program and contains guides for making community foundations bigger, stronger, and more useful to their communities.
Lessons for Philanthropic Effectiveness
This book shows how an established private foundation can stimulate the growth of less established and more local community foundations. The book makes clear how the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation sparked this growth in this highly productive initiative. For one thing, they gave incentive for community leadership by dangling a meaningful financial match on favorable terms. Second, they offered a five-year term of support and assistance. Third, they shared the lessons of this on-going program evaluation, first within the group of participating foundations (with the on-going publication of CF – The Magazine for Growing Community Foundations), and then more broadly to the entire field of institutional philanthropy (with the publication of this book.)
Lessons for Community Development
The concept of “community capacity” as something distinct from organizational capacity emerged from the experience of this program. We see it as “the combined influence of a community’s commitment, resources, and skills which can be deployed to build on community strengths and address community problems.” Increasing community capacity should be on the agenda of every community foundation.
Lessons for Program Evaluation
The evaluation inquiry conducted throughout this project drew on an “organizational capacity building framework” based on earlier discoveries of growth factors in emerging community foundations. With every site visit, participating community foundations and evaluators filled in the framework with data and observations over a five-year period. Our inquiry into the factors contributing to the growth of a community foundation – both in its financial assets and simultaneously in its community leadership – became the basis of our “transfer of knowledge” approach to evaluation.
Lessons for Nonprofit Management
Almost every community in America, and throughout the world, has a community foundation. Most of them are eager to import project dollars from larger institutional funders and distribute them to nonprofits in support of local goals and projects. This book shows how local nonprofits can make themselves attractive to such community-focused grantmaking, and useful to their communities.
See also these other reports from this project CF – The Magazine for Growing Community Foundations
Participating Community Foundations
How to cite this cover article: Mayer, Steven E., Building Community Capacity: The Potential of Community Foundations – A New Introduction, Minneapolis: Effective Communities Project. Downloaded from EffectiveCommunities.com, [month, date, year]. Our original publication, written with support of the Ford Foundation, can be cited this way: Mayer, Steven E., Building Community Cap