Foundations rethinking their role

By Todd Cohen

A growing number of North Carolina foundations are changing the way they do business.

Striving for greater impact, foundations are gearing their grants to strategic priorities.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust will focus more grant dollars on a handful of critical problems, addressing both immediate needs and root causes.

And the Triangle Community Foundation wants to do more to connect philanthropic resources with community needs, serve as an advocate and partner for social change, and promote philanthropy.

Foundations also are increasing their investment to strengthen nonprofits’ internal operations, encourage nonprofits to work together, and promote giving by women, ethnic groups and young people.

Through the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, foundations are increasing their own collaboration.

And a handful of foundations are becoming more active public-policy advocates, working on issues that affect nonprofits and their clients.

These are important developments that should serve as models for other foundations.

Philanthropy can be much more than simply giving money away in response to requests from nonprofits.

Foundations should do more to identify critical social needs, encourage and participate in partnerships and policy work to address those needs, and help nonprofits be more effective in delivering services and working for change.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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