A Creature of Its Environment: View from a Community Foundation

By Alicia Philipp
Nonprofit Quarterly

The truth about community foundations is that if you know one, you know one. It’s no secret that all community foundations are quite distinct. But what we share is that we are all place-based funders. Our knowledge and expertise are built in a core geographic area. Certainly, we can and do give grants beyond our local communities. But the intensity of our focus is on our chosen geography. We give where we live.

Community foundations are similar in their building blocks: donors, nonprofits, and our positions in the community that enables us to convene individuals and institutions across all lines—cultural, geographical, ideological, issue, industry, etc. How community foundations assemble and arrange these blocks depends greatly on the ever-changing capacity and assets of their communities. And that is where you begin to see how diverse community foundations are in shape, size, and structure. Just look at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. After 36 years here, I have seen it evolve.

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