Philanthropy’s Awareness Gap?

When I started in this role more than five years ago, philanthropy had just discovered that fewer than two in 10 influential Americans — think policymakers, for instance — could name an example of a foundation’s impact on their community or an issue they cared about.

The research project known as the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative showed that only a little over one-third of these engaged individuals — elected officials, business leaders, government and nonprofit leaders — could even name a foundation at all.

This multi-year study concluded, among other things, that it won’t be a one-time effort to keep policymakers informed but rather an ongoing process of building connections and relationships.

Just this week, I ran across a blog headlined, “Does Philanthropy’s Awareness Gap still exist?

It was written about a Rockefeller Foundation convening of public officials working on disaster recovery and community resilience. The Philanthropy Northwest blog reported that those in attendance at the Seattle meeting seemed to have little understanding about philanthropy in their communities. But there were a couple of examples specifically mentioned by officials in the room, including the Colorado Association of Funders’ disaster planning and response work with the governor’s office here.

Raising awareness about philanthropy has become an increasingly important part of CAF’s mission, whether it’s through collecting relevant data or keeping policymakers informed about important work in Colorado’s communities.

We’ll (so far) be joined in Washington next month for our annual meetings with members of Congress by: Rebecca Arno (The Denver Foundation), Heather Carroll (Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation), Kyle Hybl (El Pomar Foundation), Joe Ignat (Nord Family Foundation), Megan Ledin (Grand Foundation), Tim Schultz (Boettcher Foundation) and Sue Renner (David and Laura Merage Foundation).

All of this work only happens with our members’ support and involvement. Many thanks for all you do.