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What Is in the Toolkit How to Use the Toolkit
How to Use the Toolkit Getting Started What to do Next

Each community foundation will approach the toolkit in its own way and adapt the individual tools to meet their own particular needs, appetites, and interests. After you’ve used the Getting Oriented materials there are many approaches to take. The next two sections of the toolkit, Considering Your Context and Identifying Opportunities, can be used in sequence or selectively, as fits your situation.

Here’s what these sections contain:

Considering Your Context
The Considering Your Context section provides two tools that will broaden and deepen your collective knowledge about your community. The Community Change Discussion Guide is a means of focusing attention on major trends and changes that are shaping your community. It asks a series of questions that can be used to facilitate group discussions or that can be independently researched and analyzed as background for a set of decision makers.

The second tool in this section, Mapping Your Community Philanthropy Environment, is a quick way of cataloging and considering the other major philanthropy players in your community. It guides you through a visual mapping exercise and provides guiding questions about capacity, roles, and relationships. Taken together, these two tools are designed to spark new insights for you and your board or broader community about local changes and the collective capacity in your area. They may be used independently or they could guide large community “town hall” discussions. You might find that they can be customized to inform just your grantmaking committee or are of use to the foundation’s professional advisors.

Identifying Opportunities
The third suite of tools, Identifying Opportunities, provides two tools that can inform an organizational capacity assessment as well as a broader look at the collective potential for generating new community solutions. The Strategic Roles Assessment tool is intended to help you and your organization identify areas of current and future capacity that the foundation would need to address in order to play select roles. It can help you think through the appropriate roles your foundation could play within the context of identified community needs and available resources. The tool for Prototyping Community Solutions, on the other hand, provides a way of thinking differently about local issues, how they are addressed now, what might be possible in the future, and what would be needed to get to those solutions. These tools can be used independently or together, and, while your board and staff will have much of the necessary expertise for these exercises, they also provide fruitful opportunities for broader community input and reflection.

Keeping It Fresh
Finally, the fourth suite of tools is both a means of integrating the earlier work and prompting your organization to build in new practices for Keeping It Fresh. The skills, reflection, insights, and adaptive tools you will engage with in the course of using this toolkit are not static, one-off exercises. Community foundations need to become better at monitoring their environments and adapting their work to changing community conditions. The two tools in this suite, Renewing Strategy and Monitoring Local Change, can help you do just that. The tool on Renewing Strategy provides some integrating questions to draw together your findings from the previous exercises. It can help you and your colleagues draw cohesive conclusions that pull from the On the Brink of New Promise report, your local context, and local opportunities to make a difference. It also reminds you that this work is ongoing. The Monitoring Local Change tool suggests simple ways your organization can build its capacity to watch, learn, assess, and consider the dynamics of your community as a core part of what the foundation is and does.

These tools are iterative and designed to be modified. Please use them, improve them, and let us know what you learn. Your organization might fold pieces of this toolkit into an ongoing planning process or you might choose to have a local consultant re-frame them for you and work your board through the full process in a retreat setting. They might provide fodder for department-level planning or community-wide conversations. You might facilitate an entire process internally or decide to work with a local consultant or strategic planning expert. There are many other resources to consider as well, such as the Foundation Strategy Group’s cost analyses or the Harwood Institute’s public capital tools, that can be used alongside this toolkit. Links to some of these additional resources can be found on the Related Tools page.

Getting Started


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The Future of Community Philanthropy