What We’ve Heard: A Look Ahead for the Community Foundation Field

What We’ve Heard: A Look Ahead for the Community Foundation Field

As the only national network of community foundations committed to community leadership, CFLeads has been taking the time to listen to the community foundation field about its challenges, opportunities, and needs in this new era of community philanthropy. We are lucky to work one-on-one with hundreds of community foundations through our peer learning opportunities. Still, we also rely on field surveys to ensure the greatest possible amount of input and insights from community foundations big and small, rural and urban. 

Thank you to all of you who shared your thoughts with us over the past year. Here’s what we’ve been hearing and how we will be responding to serve you best in 2020.

We heard you … on the value of up-to-date, relevant field leadership 

In our New Year’s Missive, we announced we would be commissioning a research report to get a full, up-to-date picture of the status of community foundations and help determine what is needed to increase our effectiveness and be of even greater value to our communities.

This effort has taken shape through the Igniting the Future of Community Foundations project. Through an iterative and inclusive process, this project will examine where the sector is now, where it wants to go, and how it will get there, highlighting compelling illustrations of leadership, dynamic tensions, and a vision and pathways toward it.  Going beyond a research report, this project will aim to facilitate conversation, reflection and new action through a variety of mediums.

Stay tuned to learn more about this landmark initiative in the coming months!

We heard you … on which critical issues matter most to your communities

In the summer, we invited you to take our Issues of Interest survey in an effort to better understand the key issues facing our communities.

While the responses reflected the diversity of our country, the growing importance of racial equity in the community foundation field was clear. 55% of respondents said they were currently using an equity lens to drive their work, and 68% said that they were interested in continuing or beginning to use an equity lens.

To build an understanding of equity and foster community action that leads to more equitable outcomes, CFLeads has formed the Community Foundation Equity Network. Our second cohort just wrapped up their final meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Coalition of Inclusive Communities, made up of community foundations from the first Equity Network cohort focused on workplace equity, also met this January in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We will be sharing the learnings from these community foundations that are leading in the equity space on our blog and through other channels over the next few months.

Other issues highlighted in the survey included economic stability, affordable housing, gun violence, and early childhood. We look forward to continuing to work with community foundations and other partners across the country on these important topics in a variety of ways, all centered on our core value of peer learning. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of new learning opportunities, resources and stories.

We heard you … on making community leadership accessible for everyone

Our long-running Executive Leadership Institute, available to community foundation CEOs and VPs, continues to be highly rated and recommended by participants. However, we heard from the field that there would be value in sharing the practice of community leadership with community foundation staff at all levels. In 2019, we piloted a new 1.5-day Introduction to Community Leadership course, which introduces community foundation staff and Board/CEO pairs to the Framework for Community Leadership by a Community Foundation and the five competencies of community leadership and serves as a great entry-point into this work. The positive feedback we received means we will be offering this course again in 2020 and will be hosting regional gatherings to best accommodate our audience.

We have a lot of exciting opportunities on the horizon in 2020 and more to come. Stay informed about our work by subscribing to our mailing list and visiting our website regularly for news and updates.