Special Initiatives
Community Foundations Print E-mail

Building Local Philanthropy

Irvine has a long history of partnering with community foundations to support their ambitions for growth and leadership. This work has resulted in more philanthropic resources to underserved regions in all parts of the state and helped create healthier, thriving communities.

Community foundations are critical resources in understanding the needs and aspirations of their local communities and in helping to increase the resources available to meet these aspirations. Since 1995, Irvine has partnered with community foundations across California in our core program areas and in several capacity-building initiatives. Through the creativity, commitment and inquisitiveness of these organizations, we have learned a great deal about how best to increase a community foundation’s relevance, stature and sustainability. By sharing our successes and challenges, we hope to enhance the impact of community foundations everywhere.

Community Foundations Initiative II (2005–2011)

This initiative invested $12 million in a group of small and emerging community foundations in rural parts of California to accelerate their growth and leadership. A group of seven community foundations participated in all six years; they grew assets and grantmaking at levels exceeding their peer group nationally, and they engaged in new community leadership activities.

Watch the video below for an overview of the Community Foundation Initiative II.

Community Foundations Series

The work of initiative participants has generated a significant body of knowledge that can benefit the larger field of community foundations and that holds particular relevance for the youngest and smallest members of the field. This information is captured and shared through the following Irvine Community Foundations Series of reports:

Learning to Lead: The Journey to Community Leadership for Emerging Community Foundations (2012)

Learning to Lead Report

Learning to Lead Case Studies

Learning to Lead Worksheets

Learning to Lead Webinar

Download the paper | Download case studies | Download worksheets | Watch the webinar

Sizing Up: Strategies for Staffing Emerging Community Foundations (2012)

Sizing Up Report

Sizing Up Case Studies

Sizing Up Worksheets

Download the paper | Download case studies | Download worksheets

On Board: Engaging the Full Potential of Community Foundation Directors (2012)

On Board Report

On Board Worksheets

Download the paper | Download worksheets

Reaching Out

Reaching Out: Board Ambassadors for Growth in Community Foundations (2011)

The Four Ps of Marketing

The Four Ps of Marketing: A Roadmap for Greater Community Foundation Visibility (2011)

Growing Smarter

Growing Smarter: Achieving Sustainability in Emerging Community Foundations (2007)

Details about the initiative | Overview of the evaluation

Community Foundations Initiative I (1995–2003)

This $11.7 million effort supported and strengthened seven small and midsize community foundations across California. Each community foundation developed a strategic community project designed to enhance its role as a community leader and simultaneously worked to increase the community foundation's internal capacity. Lessons learned from this initiative are shared through the following publications:

What Does It Take

What Does It Take? Attributes of Effective Community Foundations Chief Executives


Eyes Wide Open: Deciding When To Launch A Community Initiative

Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst: How Community Foundations Are Acting As Agents For Local Change

Details about the initiative and evaluation

Communities Advancing the Arts (2004–2011)

This initiative invested $9 million in 13 California community foundations to help them increase individual giving to the arts in their communities and to build their abilities to exercise leadership in the arts. Community foundations regranted approximately half of this investment to small and midsize arts organizations in their regions.

Advance the Arts


Details about the initiative | Overview of the evaluation