Community Foundation Week: We have one in CNY, but what is a Community Foundation?


During the week of November 12-18, 2013, the Central New York Community Foundation will join more than 750 community foundations across America for the 14th Annual Community Foundation Week to celebrate the lives changed and communities transformed through philanthropy’s partnership with private and public community leaders and organizations. Community Foundation Week highlights the critical role of community foundations in supporting their local communities. The week culminates with National Philanthropy Day on November 15.

But what is a community foundation? Community foundations are independent, public entities that receive donations from institutions and individuals, then manage and award these funds as grants to local nonprofits that are the heart of strong, vibrant communities. By pooling donations together, the funds are invested and grown for even greater impact. Every state in the United States is home to at least one community foundation—large and small, urban and rural—that is advancing solutions to a wide range of social issues.

Our local Central New York Community Foundation is now 86 years old (established in 1927), administers more than 600 component charitable funds and has awarded more than $120 million in grants since inception. As the region’s largest endowed philanthropic foundation, the Central New York Community Foundation awards more than $8 million in grants to nonprofit organizations annually.

All week, the Community Foundation will be highlighting its community services and impact via social media. Follow along: facebook icon  twitter-150x150 

Donor Stewardship

The Central New York Community Foundation exists to support nonprofits by faithfully executing the wishes of its donors.  Its philanthropic experts are a resource to those who want to give back to the local community by making any charitable gift – whether it is a simple cash donation or a complex estate gift – easy and rewarding. And its dedication to preserving legacies helps those who care about the community be remembered for their generosity, in perpetuity. Just a quick glace through the descriptions of the more than 600 funds currently administered (seen on highlights the inspirational, and often emotional, stories of Central New York’s many generous people. Those stories will forever be housed at the Community Foundation, continuing to inspire and impact lives long into the future.

In addition, the Community Foundation has a unique ability to preserve the intentions of a donor’s gift, even as community needs and the organizations addressing those needs change over time. For example, if a charitable organization that is named as a beneficiary in a will or fund agreement no longer exists upon a donor’s death, the Community Foundation can tap into its local knowledge to recommend and direct the donor’s dollars to organizations that address similar missions, safeguard those charitable dollars as well as the donor’s intentions.

Building a Stronger Community: Grants & Initiatives

So what does the Community Foundation do with the dollars it stewards? First and foremost, it strives to stay informed on the issues facing the Central New York region and the programs implemented by the nonprofit sector to address those issues. It provides support to more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations that serve the region through various grantmaking programs, special initiatives and civic leadership programs. In addition to grant support, the Community Foundation also works to strengthen the nonprofit sector through a variety of initiatives, including:

  • The coordination of CNY Vitals, collaborative community indicators that provide a snapshot of Central New York within various interest areas to identify trends and opportunities for planning, grant writing and future support. (
  • Participating in the IDEAS Collaborative to support projects that address long-term audience development for arts and cultural organizations. (
  • Providing management and research support to the literacy coalitions of both Onondaga and Madison Counties. (
  • The Strategic Partnership Fund supports projects that reduce nonprofit operational expenses while working to enhance program delivery. (

“The Central New York Community Foundation works every day to help address the most pressing issues facing our community, including improving literacy and early childhood education, strengthening the arts and culture fabric, improving access to quality healthcare and contributing to a strong and robust nonprofit community,” said Peter Dunn, President & CEO. “Community foundations impact lives, solve problems, and improve futures. With limited resources and a growing need for services, we are determined to bring our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions to some of our most challenging social problems.”

What’s Coming Soon

Community members who want to make an even bigger impact this holiday season can take part in #GivingTuesdayCNY on Tuesday, December 3. #GivingTuesday is a nationwide initiative introduced in 2012 to inspire charitable giving during the busy holiday season. The Central New York Community Foundation is inviting Twitter and Facebook users in Central New York to tweet or post the name of their favorite local charity along with the hashtag #GivingTuesdayCNY. The charity with the most votes that day will receive a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation. More information and official rules will be available at

Established in 1927, the Central New York Community Foundation encourages local philanthropy by supporting the growth of a permanent charitable endowment for the betterment of the region.  The Community Foundation is the largest charitable foundation in the region with assets of more than $143 million. It awarded $8.3 million in grants last year to nonprofit organizations and since its inception has invested more than $120 million in the community. The Community Foundation serves as the steward of charitable legacies for individuals, families and corporations through the administration of more than 600 funds. The organization also serves as a civic leader, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to strengthen nonprofits that address the region’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit

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