Each year the Community Foundation for Merseyside produces Vital Signs, a report which utilises primary and secondary data on local community issues to guide giving in the most effective way. Vital Signs measures the vitality and aspirations of our communities; recognises significant trends, and identifies social priorities critical to quality of life. It acts as a unique guide to inform current and future community philanthropy.
Research Paper Abstract
My Senior International Fellowship (SIF) in 2009 at CUNY was a turning point for me as a senior practitioner in community foundations and for the organisation I led, having researched collaborations and mergers in the field of community philanthropy. Since then I have led a successful merger of two community foundations for two separate geographical areas in the UK as well as shared my research and experience with fellow practitioners, especially with those who are SIFs and via the Canadian and UK networks of community foundations. I am delighted to revisit my research nearly seven years on and be invited to contribute to the first conference for the faculty.
My research paper reviews the field of community philanthropy and community foundations since the recession of 2008 when collaborations and mergers that are more common now were still in their infancy at that time. The driver for many of the collaborations and mergers shared in the paper have been due to the drop in charitable giving and core contributions to the work of community philanthropy due to the economic downturn and change in the policy landscape, high-lighting a determination to be fit for purpose and relevant in a new era whilst maintaining its core functions.
“Simply put, a community foundation has three functions. It is a grantmaker. It is a vehicle for the philanthropy of individuals, corporations and organizations that have concern for a specific geographic area. It provides leadership in the community it serves as an effective, independent arena for addressing difficult issues and/or advocating for needed programs, services or policies”’ (The Balancing Act, Dorothy Reynolds, 2008, CS Mott Foundation).
The paper references the Community Foundations for Canada's collaboration to merger spectrum which has contributed to my work in this field as a senior leader and practitioner sharing best practice, and links collaboration and merger case studies from Canada and the UK to bring the spectrum to life. I also share more formal compliance guidance, demonstrating it in practice via case studies, to highlight best practice in collaborations and mergers against formal frameworks.
The best practice and case studies shared aim to provide a review and practitioner-friendly guidance for anyone working in the field to take on board for their work as adaption and transition is continually needed at this time.
Collaborations & Mergers Research: Making Community Foundations fit-for-purpose in an ever changing landscape.