While in Chicago, I attended a presentation on the role of community foundations in today’s giving environment. Jason Baxendale, director of gift planning for The Chicago Community Trust, and Terry Shavone, The Columbus Foundation’s vice president for donor services and development (both of which are ranked in the top 10 largest community foundations in the U.S.) explained that community foundations often serve as a backbone for giving. Even though the vast majority of contributions are given by individuals, many donors find it reassuring to see that a community foundation has supported an organization—it is like the good housekeeping seal approval.
It is because of this increased donor confidence that many community foundations are seeing more and more donor-advised funds being established by individuals and families. This is a good thing for organizations to keep in mind. When a gift arrives from a community foundation, you need to understand exactly who is providing the gift. Is it indeed the community foundation, or is it from a donor-advised fund? You will need to find out who is behind the donor advised funds and communicate with them. Cultivate your relationship with the community foundation, keep them up to date on what is going on within your organization and how funds are being spent, but also offer these same lines of communication to the folks behind the donor advised funds.