A New Anchor Mission for a New Century: Community foundations deploying all resources to build community wealth

The Democracy Collaborative

Author +
Marjorie Kelly and Violeta Duncan

Year: 2014

As the community foundation field reaches the century mark and faces growing pressure on its business model, many communities at the same time are struggling with economic distress. To meet these converging challenges, an innovative group of community foundations are beginning to deepen and shift how they work—adopting an anchor mission that seeks to fully deploy all resources to build community wealth. They are calling on all assets at their disposal—financial, human, intellectual, and political—in service of their communities’ economic well-being. Moving into territory relatively uncharted for community foundations, they are taking up impact investing and economic development—some in advanced ways, others with small steps. This report offers an overview of how 30 representative community foundations, large and small, urban and rural, are working toward adopting this new anchor mission.

Table of Contents

Part I: The Evolution of a New Anchor Mission
A historic moment for innovation
The surge of commercial competition
“The world has changed and so must we”
A continuum from basic services to economic development

Part II: The Anchor Mission in Action
Focus on jobs arises from community demand
Finding competitive advantage
“A community foundation can be whatever it wants to be”
Deploying all resources: Examples of tools in use
Strategies for economic development
Strategies for impact investing

Part III: The Thinking Behind These New Approaches
Benefits and challenges
Why impact investing?
Why economic development?
From ending poverty to creating wealth

Part IV: Moving Ahead
Five steps to getting started
Conclusions and recommendations

Part V: An Innovative 30
Community wealth building activity at 30 community foundations

Interviews Conducted