A New LocalDecember 29, 2017
Having a place where donors—small and large—can pool money for charitable uses is a perfect fit for this most charitable state. At our founding in 1994, the Community Foundation followed a traditional community foundation model—transactional in nature—with donor gifts coming in and grants from those funds going back out again.
But over the last few years, the community foundation has seen a shift in how we work in and for our communities.
On the eve of our 25th year, we’ve been taking a deeper look at the places we serve, asking, “How can we make things better here?” How do we define our “community?” Several answers have risen to the surface. One, money always helps. To truly change a community, we must be deliberate about building philanthropy where we can and shepherding philanthropic money to the best and highest uses.
Our recent work has pinpointed challenges present in but hardly unique to our city. Indeed, mistrust and miscommunication often prevent progress. So, we see an overwhelming need to bring people together, convening those willing to double down to solve problems, creating space for meaningful conversations, and providing opportunities for community leaders to learn how to facilitate productive communication.
Realizing that community-based giving has the ability to transform, we also know we can’t do it alone. In addition to working with donors to maximize the impact of grant dollars, we must discuss what needs the community—indeed, our state—has. We intend to help craft partnerships and collaborative solutions to address those needs.
Thanks largely to a transformational gift, the Community Foundation has engaged over the past year in planning to have a more visible presence in our metropolitan area and our state, to step forward as a leader, and to look around use and head of us to intentionally change where we live. As part of this process, we have engaged in a name-change exercise, fulfilling a goal that has been in our strategic plans since 2009.
A larger vision for the Foundation, an increase scope in our philanthropic work, and our willingness to serve as a point of connection suggest a radical new name. No, we won’t tread on territory. Instead, we will create spaces and opportunities for community conversations, target grant dollars at specific, meaningful projects, and offer more people in more towns the ability to pool their resources for local needs.
Most important, we will work collaboratively and in partnership with our existing foundations to make sure every citizen can add to the philanthropic resources in their communities or create them where they don’t yet exist.
We deeply believe community foundations are the most democratic philanthropic institutions, bringing donors from all walks of life together to become the change they want to see—in community, in our state, in our world. We look forward to being For Mississippi. For Good. Forever.
President and CEO