Community Leadership for Deeper Impact

Thursday, June 24, 2010

With challenges increasing for communities, it’s exciting to see the ways in which community foundations express their leadership. I had the opportunity in early May to witness and be part of work the Santa Barbara Foundation is doing. The foundation has a long history of supporting the community but they are exploring new roles that have the potential to extend their reach and deepen their impact.

The challenge for the community foundation is where and how to invest limited resources to the greatest effect. This is a question for ongoing discussion and decision-making for all of us in the philanthropic space. And using the community foundation as a model, it’s interesting to think about those resources in ways that go far beyond the dollars involved. How can and does each of us apply the question of leadership to our own work?

 Here are a few things worth noting.

  • They pulled together a workshop for professional advisors that allowed a focus on partnership rather than competition. By the end of the meeting, there was a greater understanding of how the Santa Barbara Foundation can work with advisors and their clients to bring more resources to needs in the community (and improve their client relationships in the process).
  • They hosted a luncheon on family philanthropy during which we heard an appetite for shared family action matched by concern for how it can be done effectively – and a wish for support from the community foundation to make it work well.
  • The community responded with an amazing turnout to hear about and discuss how to support the arts and education in Santa Barbara. The donors who attended are clearly looking for leadership and someone to help focus potential shared action.