Emerging trend of foundations in the collaboration space

Posted on October 26, 2011 by Pam Truitt

On Nov. 10, I’ll be moderating a session, Creating New Paradigms: 5+ Foundations Collaborate, at the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) annual meeting. Our session is about the beginning of collaborative relationships.  I’m prepping for the conference and will share collaboration examples in today’s blog.

A colleague with a dry sense of humor once said, "foundations have no natural predators and they are terrible collaborators." When I repeat that comment, it always produces a good chortle, but I’m not convinced it’s entirely on point.

Here are five examples of foundations that are collaborating in various ways:

1.     The Portsmouth Community Foundation and The Heron Foundation - These foundations came together as a new larger foundation now called The Southeast Virginia Community Foundation.

According to news coverage, the foundations offered complementary services that are now rolled into a stronger organization. Portsmouth was known for its assets and expertise while Heron specialized in civic engagement. In paraphrasing a quote from board member Steve Johnson:  The merger will enable the new foundation to double the service area of legacy organizations and offer resources to more than 1,000 nonprofits.

2.     The Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation - Both located in Sarasota County, they are among the two largest community foundations in Florida.  Over time, they had become competitive. Through a series of sessions with a neutral third party facilitator (provided by The Patterson Foundation), they are now collaborating for the common good through a formal structure that affirms that each foundation is distinct and has its own set of priorities and focus for impact. Their conversations are leading to greater impact for the community.

3.     The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Central Alabama Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama and the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation - These entities were interested in technology for online grantmaking and scholarship applications.  The groups came together through Alabama Giving with Foundant Technologies to purchase software packages at discounted rates for multiple users. With the purchase complete, the four groups share their experiences with the software with other members of Alabama Giving.

4.  Community Foundation of Westmoreland County and Greater Pittsburgh Community Foundation - The merger between these foundations was designed to strengthen the muscle of Westmoreland County.  The new combined entity provides stronger grantmaking impact, enhanced services for donors, increased support for its local nonprofit organizations and lower administrative costs.

5.     The Foellinger Foundation, Lodestar Foundation, the Foundation for the Carolinas, The Patterson Foundation, the Greater Atlanta Community Foundation and The Forbes Funds  - These entities are interested in an effective and efficient nonprofit sector.  Each foundation has its own program for nonprofit partnerships but collectively they are interested in sharing and learning from collective experiences. This is the session I will moderate at SECF.

Do you have examples of foundations in the collaboration space?

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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