By You-niq Team Log
Posted in Article
One hundred years ago, in 1914, Cleveland lawyer and banker Frederick H. Geoff established the first community foundation, giving rise to a new philanthropy, a new way of participating in community and a new vision for the future. Today, there are some 1,750 community foundations globally, managing over €40 billion in assets.
What makes a community foundation special?
- Long term perspective: by building a perpetual endowed fund, community foundations can tackle long –term community challenges, as well as meet immediate needs;
- Wise steward: attracts and pools resources for the public good — for today and in perpetuity — and distributes those resources openly and transparently;
- Local grant-maker: accumulates financial resources from a variety of donors, including local individuals and companies, diaspora populations, government bodies and international funders;
- Local responder: marshals resources, including funds, that respond to issues such as education, poverty, health, community development and arts and culture;
- Bridge builder: creates links between different groups and sectors including connecting donors with causes that matter, as well as forging strong links with professional advisors and other stakeholders in the community;
- Advocate: takes a leadership role in relation no issues of social justice and supports advocacy and civic engagement within communities. .
Inspired by the effectiveness and impact of community foundations globally, the mission of The Community Foundation for Ireland is to help connect philanthropic donors and recipients in a way that’s productive, trustworthy and efficient. We believe in the power of philanthropy to deliver just and progressive social change.
Since 2000, the Community Foundation for Ireland has developed a proven track record in empowering donors who want to make a real difference in their communities by tackling social issues effectively. The Foundation has a dedicated and committed staff with extensive experience of grant-making in Ireland and overseas and a strong commitment to ensuring that The Foundation attains impeccable standards of governance and transparency and follows best international practice. The Foundation is further committed to community service and leadership by providing the opportunity for collaborative leadership that transcends “special interests” and reflects the interest of the community at large. For example, in 2013 The Foundation published VitalSigns, a report card on how Ireland is doing across a set of quality of life indicators. VitalSigns has been launched this year again to include specific insight into Ireland’s younger generation through the addition of Youth VitalSigns.
In the past 14 years, The Community Foundation for Ireland has awarded grants to community groups and causes throughout Ireland in excess of €18m. Its 2013 annual report reveals that through the generosity of donors and through income from its long term endowed fund, in 2013 alone The Foundation distributed over €3.5m through a wide range of grants – a record for The Foundation to date.
2014 has been a challenging year for the non-profit sector. Following a series of controversies in relation to a number of charitable organisations and the philanthropic sector itself, there are growing concerns about accountability and transparency within some parts of the non-profit sector. The knee jerk and indeed very understandable reaction may well be for donors to stall their giving or worse still, to decide not to give at all in the future. Yet, as The Community Foundation for Ireland witnesses every day, in an environment of declining public and private resources (including the imminent closure of a number of the largest trusts and foundations), charities, community and voluntary groups are under severe pressure to make ends meet and to meet the needs of the clients which they serve. This underlines the need to restore confidence in the governance and accountability of the charity sector in Ireland and in this regard the new Charities Regulatory Authority will have a central role to play.
The steady growth of the Community Foundation for Ireland since its inception in 2000 demonstrates that there are donors who are interested in giving in a more planned and thoughtful way and that a model of philanthropy which has proven its mettle for 100 years internationally, has a promising future in Ireland as well.