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How Community Foundations Came to (Re)Embrace Community Leadership

May 25 @ 12:00 pm1:00 pm EDT

How Community Foundations Came to Re-Embrace Community Leadership: A Virtual Lunch & Learn Event

The evolution of community foundations in the U.S.

This discussion with Eleanor Woodward Sacks and facilitated by Michael Layton will examine how and why community foundations in the U.S., first established in 1914, came to be the community-focused philanthropic organizations of today.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, community foundations were primarily donor-focused, concerned about acquiring assets. Their world was shaken when the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund was established in 1991, giving community foundations a major market competitor for the first time.

In response, community foundations entered a period of intense self-examination that led them to redefine their identity and focus on community leadership as their defining characteristic.

Key concepts:

  • Frederick Harris Goff established the first community foundation in Cleveland in 1914 using a community leadership strategy. He envisioned and promoted a community foundation movement that was nationwide.
  • In the last quarter of the 20th century, community foundations were not well organized as a field and were focused primarily on acquiring assets.
  • Addressing the market challenge posed by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund led directly to the community foundations of today with their renewed focus on community leadership.

Plus, participants will receive free downloads and other bonus material after the presentation.

Price: Free
Format: Virtual

Please Note: Due to the interactive nature of this session, it will not be recorded for later viewing.

Questions about this event or about your registration?
Call 616-331-7585 or email Tiana Hawver.

Eleanor Woodward Sacks has more than 30-years’ experience working with community foundations at the local, national, and international levels. She began as a local volunteer working on program issues, continued as a staff member at the Council on Foundations managing an on-site program for boards and staff, and in 1998 was asked to research the growth of community foundations around the world. She has since become the leading historian in the field. Eleanor’s current project is a book-length historical study of the formation and rise of community foundations in the U.S.

Photo: Michael Layton
Michael D. Layton, Ph.D., is the W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. Michael brings a wealth of experience to this role, including his work as a researcher, teacher, director, advocate, and consultant. He has worked closely with a mix of community philanthropy organizations throughout the Americas, and brings to his position a nuanced understanding of the unique challenges and capacities of community philanthropy to act as a catalyst in promoting community-led development and in strengthening the local context for philanthropy. Learn more about Dr. Layton.


May 25
12:00 pm–1:00 pm EDT
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