Funders team up – Technology a priority

By Todd Cohen

A new group has been formed to offer products and services to community foundations – and its pilot project is to develop software to handle back-office transactions.

That pilot effort of the new Community Foundations of America in Louisville, Ky., has secured bridge financing from four foundations investing a total of $750,000.

Ivestserve in E. Stroudsburg, Pa., is developing the software, which will handle accounting, investing, grant-processing and other financial and administrative tasks.

The software should be available next spring to community foundations that subscribe to Community Foundations of America, which will work like a buyers association akin to Sam’s Club, said Carla Dearing, CFA’s president and CEO.

Formed a year ago by 26 community foundations, CFA has more than 100 subscribers representing nearly one-fifth of U.S. community foundations, she said.

It merged in February with the Community Foundations Strategic Alliance, a group formed three years ago to find ways to improve members’ tech use and ties with the financial services industry.

CFA aims to identify community foundations’ needs for products and services, commission their development and field-test and distribute them.

In its first three years, it hopes to raise $7.8 million to develop a full range of Web-based tools and products that also can handle development, grantmaking and relationships with financial firms.

Foundations helping to finance development of the first set of back-office tools include the Cleveland Foundation, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

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