This weekend, my travels will take me to Cleveland to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the world’s first community foundation. The Council on Foundations will hold their annual community foundation conference there to honor the past and think boldly about the future of community philanthropy.
A visionary philanthropist by the name of Frederick Goff launched the first community foundation in Cleveland. The idea was to build a permanent resource that would be there to meet the changing needs of the entire community for generations to come. For the first time, one organization pulled together the people of a community – diverse in their passions and means – to pursue a shared vision of a remarkable future. This transformative idea spread around the world, inspiring millions to take action and improve their communities.
Today, there are 763 community foundations serving cities, towns, counties, and states across the country. Collectively we hold $66 billion in assets and annually invest more than $5 billion back into our communities in the form of grants and programs.
As a rural, regional community foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation’s community is the 18-counties of southwest Minnesota. We receive donations of all
sizes and for many different purposes to reinvest into the region.
This past fiscal year, we made grants totaling $1.4 million to nonprofit organizations, leveraged $20 million in public and private investment into the region through our economic development efforts, helped 36 entrepreneurs start or expand their small businesses, and secured $2.4 million in charitable gifts that will stay right here to do everything from helping young children get ready to learn in school to helping seniors stay active and healthy in their homes.
Community foundations can do it all!