Community foundations claim to play an integral role in fostering philanthropy at a community level all across the United States. Community foundations have three distinct operational roles, including asset building, grantmaking, and community leadership. While asset building and grantmaking have methods available to quantify and measure their impact, community leadership has remained an elusive concept for community foundations for many years.
This report shares the background on community leadership, as a concept, and covers the history of how community foundations have interpreted the role of community leadership over the years.
While critiques are made of current frameworks and historical approaches, it is all done in a good-faith effort in order to show how the community foundation field has collectively progressed, and what work still needs to be done for community foundations to fully embrace their community leadership role – and that role is going to look different for each community foundation.
The report includes a conceptual framework of community leadership based on existing studies and practical guidelines, including the use of civic leadership, collective leadership, and community engagement. The framework provides an opportunity to apply leadership at the institutional level and assists in examining nonprofit organizations as the unit of analysis, thus provide a more operationalized vision of community leadership.
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