Day two of the UKCF19 conference saw a very wide range of workshops, project visits and speeches to provoke and inspire guests from across the Community Foundation world.
Several workshops focused on the long-term future of philanthropy and how we as Community Foundations can continue to provide relevant and up to date philanthropic advisory services to donors, and personally this is an area which fascinates me. It is estimated that within the next 20 years, we will see the largest ever transfer of intergenerational wealth, so how equipped and ready are we to adapt and provide a service which the next generation will find the meaningful engagement and connection which they want and expect?
I attended ‘Understanding Donor Motivation’ led by Sussex Community Foundation which shared results from a large survey of their donor fund-holders to better understand their needs and how they feel about Sussex CF as a partner. A key question which I must ‘borrow’ for a future donor survey here in Surrey: ‘Where do you see your relationship with the Community Foundation in 5-10 years’?
The survey showed that whilst the majority were pleased with the service they receive and the level of exposure they had to the groups they support and the problems they were helping to solve, it also became clear that there are a growing number of fund-holders, known for this purpose as ‘Group B’, who prefer a more emotional connection to the causes that they support. We pondered what this could look like as the norm in future – volunteering at the projects they’ve supported as opposed to just a one-off visit, applications for support sent by video rather than paper forms, and similarly thank you videos rather than letters. I would be keen to hear your suggestions also?
Going one step further, there is a smaller sub set of emerging donors (Group C) who expect and require systemic change, and therefore the grants they award are likely to be more substantial in size but will also require a much greater level of learning, convening, assessing and impact measuring to see larger issues being addressed. The implication for Community Foundations is how well equipped we are to deal with these types of Funds, and to what extent we will need to re-think our approach in response to this.
There is no doubt from my experience that in recent years we are seeing the start of this trend change. Referring to our earlier identified ‘Group B’ donors, what steps can we take to help them make the connections and engagement that they seek? I recently met with a new donor who brought one of her children along to the meeting, informing us that she (her daughter) would be involved with setting the criteria of the Fund and making decisions on grants, which we’re absolutely delighted with, and are certainly seeing this multi-generational involvement increase. It has also become clear from similar discussions with new donors that accessing their Funds digitally in the way that they might access online banking or virtually any other household service through an app and online dashboard is the new expectation, and our collective and creative thinking about this sooner rather than later will be important to meet the needs of this new generation. Conversations will continue, between Foundations and with our donors, as to how we can best serve and inspire this new generation of donors and ensure that Community Foundations remain a relevant and impactful catalyst for our local communities. Ideas and feedback are welcomed!
Joe Crome is Director of Philanthropy at Community Foundation for Surrey