Local knowledge (part 3, flipping the script)

What if communities could design their own foundation? So often, foundations come to a community and try to learn what its issues are that fit with the foundation’s interest, and develop a program to meet them. There’s always a negotiation, and the foundation always holds the trump card of independence, and to a lesser degree, donor intent.

But what if the process were reversed? What if instead of nonprofits in a community bidding to foundations to be the ones to receive funds, what if communities came together, identified their needs, and then put out an RFP to foundations to find philanthropic capital that would meet those needs? Evaluation would be driven by community priorities and needs. Foundations would have to change their operations to meet the needs of the community?

What if a foundation voluntarily gave up its autonomy and put itself at the service of a particular community, with all the resources it could gather from other places?

They say you can tell what you should do with your life based on your answer to the question, “what would you do with a million dollars?” I guess I’m in the right line of work, because that sounds to me like something that would be fun to try and make happen. (And make it a billion.)


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