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Community Foundations: How Organizational Change Results in Positive Community Change, Part 2

This blog is part of a series of conversations with executives from leading community foundations who are stepping out of their traditional, risk-averse roles and stepping up to affect positive social change. Watch your email for an invitation to join us for an interactive GuideStar webinar with these community foundation leaders.

The below is Part 2 of a conversation was between Lori Larson, Senior Director Community Philanthropy, GuideStar, and Susie Bowie, Vice President Philanthropic Education and Marketing, Community Foundation of Sarasota County. If you missed Part 1, click here.

The Achievements:

Lori: What goals have been achieved so far and how have these achievements provided value and benefits to the Foundation, donors, nonprofits, and the Sarasota community at large?

Susie: Today we have a system that allows all of us to communicate together about social good in our community. Here are some of the benefits we’ve seen:

As nonprofits update their profiles—through changes in leadership, accomplishments, needs—our community can get a “real time” understanding of their current state of affairs.

Our site visits, meetings and interactions with nonprofits are more meaningful and engaging since we arrive with knowledge, without having to start with basics about “what’s new” at the organization.

We have better knowledge about how to support nonprofits. Knowing, for example, that 27% of nonprofits have a written fundraising plan, we can focus on initiatives and consulting that provide the tools for staff and board to raise money effectively.

Instead of focusing solely on what programs and services are being offered, we can focus on what results are being achieved for the good of the community. Financials still matter, but looking at them within the context of results is much more important.

Most importantly, The Giving Partner has allowed our team to

Provide more strategic support and direction as we work closely with donors, since we now have easy access to nonprofit knowledge across the spectrum of mission focus and organizational “capacity” at our fingertips.

Better able to direct donors to opportunities that fit their interests and preferences—not only mission interests—but interests based on results shared through data and stories, we see donors expanding their giving, both in terms of dollars and the number of organizations they choose to support.

Be equipped with a greater understanding of how competitive the social sector can be, many donors have become the biggest proponents of capacity-related investments (such as coaching, consulting and training for leadership development and strategic thinking and planning) for the nonprofits they have long-supported.

Lori: What goals and aspirations do you have for the immediate 3-5 year future?

Susie: In the short-term and the long-term, we hope even more institutions and individuals will realize how vast their choices are when it comes to charitable investments—large or small—and they will utilize The Giving Partner to help them in their decision-making. They also have the power to encourage excellence, and by doing so, everyone wins.

When even more media partners, small businesses, professional advisors, private and family foundations, and everyday philanthropists look to The Giving Partner as a starting point for their nonprofit knowledge, we build efficiencies for nonprofits. We can stop asking them to provide the same information when a new call for sponsorship or grant request is issued.

So many partners make the philanthropic landscape in Southwest Florida a powerhouse for social good. Looking back on the last three years and what The Giving Partner has allowed nonprofits, donors, foundations and others to accomplish, we are refreshed with the energy that knowledge can deliver.

Lori Larson

Lori Larson is senior director of community philanthropy and responsible for GuideStar’s market and product strategy, business development and customer relations for community philanthropy products. Prior to joining GuideStar, Lori worked for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, leading teams including knowledge development, nonprofit outreach, and donor relations. Previous to her foundation work, Lori was the operations manager of a multi-entity oil and gas corporation in Houston, Texas, and was assistant publisher of a software company in Shreveport, Louisiana. Lori holds a B.A. in Economics, With Distinction, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and an MBA in Finance from Baker College Center for Graduate Studies. Lori holds a Ph.D. (ABD) in Leadership and Organizational Change from Walden University. Her dissertation, “Adaptive Business Models for Community Foundation Resilience,” is in progress with anticipated full doctorate graduation in 2015. You may reach Lori directly at

Topics: Senior Executive Issues