Four Take-Aways from the Council on Foundations’ Future of Community Conference


A great time in Washington DC this week for the 1,300 or so attendees at the Council on Foundations’ Future of Community Conference.  NCN was honored to be a part of the program.  Lots of stimulating presentations and conversations.

Here are a few of the highlights for me:

1) Our session, Prototyping Collaboration – What We Learned that You Can Replicate was well attended and we got lots of great questions from the audience.  Loved our power panel! Jessie MacKinnon from the National Youth Transition Center of the HSC Foundation was our moderator.  Katie Ensign from the Jessie Ball DuPont Center in Jacksonville, FL and Jenny Camhi of the North County Hub at the Leichtag Foundation in Encinitas, CA spoke about their shared space centers’ experience with building nonprofit collaboration.  My presentation focused on what we’ve learned to-date from the Collaboration Project and how clear expectations around the definition of collaboration can help centers better evaluate the impact they are having.

2) “Collaboration moves at the speed of trust” this was a great take-away from GEO’s session Collaborating from the Inside Out with Meghan Duffy, H. Walker Sanders from Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro NC and Chana Anderson from the Marin Community Foundation. There was a great discussion about the different roles foundations play in collaborations (driver, navigator, passenger) and criteria to use to evaluate whether or not to get involved with a collaboration.

3) Farron Levy of True Impact LLC talked during Evaluating Impact about contribution vs attribution.  I think this concept is especially relevant for shared spaces where our connections to outcomes is hard to isolate.  He suggested three ways to track this: did you “fund” the outcome (then count your pro rata share of the total budget, for instance if you are providing free rent this could be an easy calculation); did you “enable” the outcome (as an early investor or incubator of the organization); or did you “catalyze” the outcome (not as direct a connection and harder to track because you have to rely on subsequent outcomes).

4) It was a nice surprise to see the emphasis on equity, diversity and inclusion at this conference.  Many session and plenaries touched on this and although the data does not show significant progress in the philanthropic world, hard conversations seem to be taking place.  I appreciated the frank tone of the session led by David Maurrasse of Marga Inc, and the Race and Equity in Philanthropy Group, which feels like a more ground-up approach to making philanthropy better mirror the communities it serves.

See what others were saying about the conference!











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