The models of community foundations today vary almost as widely as the communities in which they're based. While many organizations remain focused on traditional activities like endowment management, donor service, and grantmaking, other community foundations have begun to experiment with new opportunities for serving their communities, from financing social impact bonds to facilitating community dialogue.
Yet despite a growing record of innovation, the prevailing narrative of the community foundation field has remained largely unchanged as the model hits its centennial anniversary. Instead of a story of adaptation and diversity, the field is still viewed as if it had a single, uniform model -- acting as a charitable bank for their communities -- that no longer really represents the heart of what many community foundations do.
This dated narrative is beginning to hold community foundations back. It prevents outsiders from seeing the vibrancy and innovation going on in the field, and it pushes many community philanthropy organizations to retrench defensively in the face of new competitive challenges at a time when they would be better off opening themselves up to new ideas and new ways of serving their communities.
The Monitor Institute's What's Next for Community Philanthropy initiative aims to shift this narrative, and to help the community foundation field enter its second century on its front foot. The complete toolkit can be found here: http://monitorinstitute.com/communityphilanthropy/toolkit/