By Jennifer Acree, Flint Associate Program Officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Nick Deychakiwsky, Civil Society Program Officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; and Kathi Horton, President, Community Foundation of Greater Flint
Much is being written in the “philanthromedia” today about funder collaboration, which is all very good but appears mostly in broad terms. One type of partnership does not always receive its due: partnerships between large and small funders.
Of course, what is large and what is small is up for interpretation, but, in this case, our emphasis is on staff size and geographic scope more than assets and budget.
Because this is a special year—the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the nation’s first community foundation—we wish to highlight some examples of how the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Mott) and the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF) work together to advance the good of our home community of Flint, Michigan, and the surrounding county.
The unique capital of large and small funders
Although Mott is often thought of as mainly a national and international funder, typically anywhere from 25% to 35% of annual grant dollars go to our home community. The foundation has strong and deep roots in Flint, and yet our local grantmaking is greatly enhanced by working with Flint’s community foundation.
As a large foundation, our most valuable and effective capital is financial. Mott also draws on its connections and relationships on the national and global levels to introduce ideas that enhance the local work of both institutions. Whereas CFGF also deploys significant financial resources for community benefit, its most valuable and effective capital is social. CFGF can more readily catalyze the interest and ability of a broad swath of community members to engage in community problem solving. The community foundation is closer to the ground, bringing community knowledge and resident engagement to the community issues both foundations address.