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Transatlantic funders face change

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With major shifts afoot, including technology advances and population changes, community foundations on both sides of the Atlantic will need be aware and adjust, a new report says.

However, the nature of the challenges facing funders depend on the contexts in which they are operating, says “The Future of Community Foundations: A Transatlantic Perspective,” published by the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network.

The report identifies three major trends affecting funders, especially those outside the U.S. — accelerating demographic shifts, a transition from government-based to private-sector problem-solving, and the fragility of a nonprofit sector that is being asked to take on more without the resources to match.

To deal with these and other changes, the report recommends community foundations do more to focus on the communities they serve rather than on their own internal workings.

At the same time, it cautions against ignoring organizational issues that could threaten long-term sustainability.

While endowment growth is critical for all community foundations, the report says, funders also must become leaders in their communities.

In the U.S., many funders find themselves competing for donors and grantees, but the report urges them, as well as foundations outside the U.S., to look for opportunities to collaborate with one another whenever possible.

The network is a project of the Bertelsmann Foundation, based in Germany, and supported by the U.S.-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

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