The goal of this microsite is to share what the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has learned in more than 35 years of supporting the field, offer key insights, and highlight our legacy of partnering with community foundations in a way that advances the vital work they do to strengthen their communities.
The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the first community foundation in the U.S. This milestone brings with it both increased attention to the field of community philanthropy and the opportunity to demonstrate the significance of these institutions to the communities they serve.
The original community foundation was the brainchild of Cleveland banker and lawyer Frederick Goff, who launched the idea of a “community trust” in 1914. His vision was to pool the charitable resources of Cleveland's philanthropists into a permanent endowment for the betterment of the city. Community leaders would then forever be able to fund, in Mr. Goff's words, “such charitable purposes as will best make for the mental, moral, and physical improvement of the inhabitants of Cleveland.” From that single community foundation in Cleveland, Ohio, a century ago, the community foundation field has grown to over 1,800 institutions worldwide.
From its start, the Mott Foundation has worked to advance the well-being of communities, including the individuals, families, neighborhoods and systems of government that sustain them. Building local, community-based philanthropy has been a central part of the foundation’s strategy since its founding.
Based on data as of October 2014. For a more comprehensive, up-to-date resource on community foundations throughout the world,
please visit the Community Foundation Atlas (a project supported by the Mott Foundation).
Every person, always, is in a kind of informal partnership with his community. His own success is dependent to a large degree on that community, and the community, after all, is the sum total of the individuals who make it up. The institutions of a community, in turn, are the means by which those individuals express their faith, their ideals and their concern for fellow men.
Community foundations are just such institutions.
Mott’s own support for community foundation field development started in 1979 and has since reached 19 countries through 781 grants totaling more than $150 million ($225 million in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars). These funds have supported community foundation development in Mott’s hometown of Flint, Michigan, and helped spread the concept across the United States through strategic grantmaking programs and institution-building assistance. Mott has supported the international development of community foundations through field-building work in the United Kingdom, resources for community foundation support organizations in central and eastern Europe, and leadership training for community foundation practitioners from 63 countries.
Mott has been joined over the years by outstanding partners such as the Ford Foundation, German Marshall Fund, Lilly Endowment, United States Agency for International Development, and W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and many, many others that also recognize the transformative power of community foundations in improving lives around the globe.
It is our hope that the experiences shared here may be used as a springboard for fresh ideas, renewed vision and to engage new supporters in community philanthropy.