Council on Foundations’ 2013 Community Foundations Conference: local impact on an international scale

Ted Hart

The Council on Foundations’ 2013 Fall Conference for Community Foundations, held on 22-25 September in San Diego, marked a unique opportunity for CAF America to speak directly with community foundation decision-makers, thought-leaders and strategists to connect and learn the best ways to continue advancing the common good.

With a diverse contingent of over 950 registered attendees, this year’s Community Foundation Conference provided relevant and thoughtful insights on current trends affecting community foundations’ philanthropic footprint. Discussions on a variety of topics including ‘the suburbanization of poverty: surprising challenges and regional solutions’; ‘donors, data & population demographics’; and ‘implementing healthcare reform: what community foundations need to know’ gave participants a holistic view of the community foundation landscape and best practices for serving their respective constituents.

While the conference primarily focused on US-centric topics and issues that community foundations encounter domestically, the level of engagement and interest in international philanthropy was pleasantly surprising. One particularly insightful session, entitled ‘US–Mexico border philanthropy partnership’, specifically highlighted community foundations’ role in international philanthropy. The session included a discussion on the availability, accuracy and transparency of information on the philanthropic sector in Mexico and the US–Mexico border region. Participants first explored how to identify trends in donations and donor institutions in Mexico and then worked together to best understand and define community foundations’ role in cross-border philanthropy. These themes benefited the session as a whole by enabling the conversation to unfold on a much larger scale.

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Caroline Hartnell