One of the most fundamental values we hold at Irvine is to share what we’re learning. We want our colleagues — both nonprofits and other funders — to be able to apply the most promising ideas, approaches and strategies to their work – and to also avoid the ones that aren’t working. We will be putting this value into action at the upcoming Council on Foundations 2012 Fall Conference for Community Foundations.
We know that all community foundations want to grow assets and create positive changes in their communities, and Irvine will be hosting a special workshop to share strategies on how to make this happen. The workshop is built around the lessons and approaches developed over six years of intensive work to help a set of emerging community foundations in California become stronger leaders in their communities as part of our Community Foundations Initiative II. Between 2005 and 2011, this group grew their collective assets 12 percent annually (from $73 million to $131 million), compared to 7 percent for their peers nationwide. At the same time, they increased their grantmaking, awarding $4 million more in grants each and every year for projects in their communities.
We began sharing some of the lessons and tools from this work in 2007, with our Growing Smarter report, and over the years, we have hosted sold-out webinars and conference programs in partnership with the Council on Foundations to disseminate this knowledge to the field.
Now, with a solid look back at what this group has achieved, we are starting to see common ingredients for how this group of community foundations managed to grow smarter and faster than their peers.
As the graphic illustrates, we think it comes down to a solid economic model, anchored by strong staff and an engaged board. Can this approach apply to other community foundations, and can others apply the specific tools, strategies and actions of this group for the same kind of transformative benefit? We believe so, and are delighted to partner with the Council on Foundations to cohost an interactive workshop for community foundations of all sizes. The workshop will be held on September 9, 2012 at the conference in New Orleans. It is free of charge for conference registrants, and interested community foundations that are planning to attend the conference can register online.
We will be sharing specific approaches and tools, with stories and lessons from the community foundation CEOs and board members and the consulting team who participated in Irvine’s initiative.
If you’ll be attending the fall conference, please consider joining us at the workshop to contribute your ideas and perspectives. If you will not attending the conference this year, please offer your perspective on this blueprint in a comment or by emailing me directly at
. How does this framework for growth and impact resonate for you? Where is your experience different?