San Francisco — Last week, the first ever North American Community Foundation Summit brought leaders of community foundations together in Mexico City. The theme of the meeting was “leave no one behind,” and the focus was on how community foundations can support progress toward the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Last week, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation announced it now has $13.5 billion in assets. The news comes at a moment of growing recognition that community foundations are essential partners in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
On the occasion of the summit, the Council on Foundations released a report arguing that these goals cannot be reached without the involvement of community foundations. It builds on a previous report looking at the trend toward international grantmaking by United States community foundations, which the council defines as “grantmaking public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.”
Devex spoke with Natalie Ross, vice president of the Council on Foundations and author of the report, to understand how leaders of NGOs can engage with these community foundations as they begin to use the SDGs as a framework for action. Ross described them as critical partners in bringing the SDGs to life through a place-based strategy.
“If you’re an INGO, and you’re asking yourself, ‘How do I localize?,’ have you asked yourself: ‘Is there a community foundation here?’ They are trying to build up on an endowed set of resources to support civil society long after aid is gone,” she told Devex.