The Community Foundation’s Role as Leader and Convener

COVID-19 demands a coordinated response from both funders and nonprofits. Regional foundations sit at the crossroads of many communities. They are close enough to the community to know it deeply, with relationships that enable theto see trends and make connections across different sectors and geographic boundaries.

Regional community foundations can drive a community-centric response because of their unique combination of:

  • Relationships with other foundations, donor advised funds and individual donors that enable coordination of gifts from multiple sources
  • Grantmaking expertise and processes
  • Staff and lay leadership resources
  • Existing communications and fundraising infrastructure
  • Prior knowledge — and often a deep knowledge — of local nonprofit agencies
  • The trust of the community, built over years or even decades
  • Relationships with local government and policymakers that enable understanding of a rapidly changing landscape for nonprofits and the people they serve

Opportunities for collaboration and coordination have taken on a special urgency, and the COVID-19 Fund reflects this. For example, a recent grant to the Trenton Health Team will help coordinate existing resources to improve citywide access to nutritious food.


This post was developed by Ann Ritter, consultant to The Burke Foundation. It is based on a series of interviews conducted with leaders involved in the creation and launch of the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund.