Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by CJ Callen, Program Director at CFLeads.

By:  CJ Callen

The question was “What do you need to be more effective in your community leadership work?” The group roared the unified response, “more money.”

That was one of the not-too-surprising moments at a gathering Sunday night of nearly 100 community foundation representatives. They had come to have a conversation on community leadership. As the conversation progressed, it turned out that it was not money that they needed most, after all, but rather, courage and imagination.

Then one participant, Linda Reed, shared the story of the Community Foundation of Montana, a story characterized by fearless engagement in public policy by working on a statewide ballot initiative – all for the sake of community betterment. I wrote down the word “fierce” while listening to her describe how her foundation journeyed boldly where few foundations fear to go. It was inspiring and did this “policy wonk’s” heart a world of good. To find out more about the Foundation’s initiative, visit

And so at the end of my first day at the fall conference, I was reminded how much the journey of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz is reminiscent of a community foundation’s own journey into community leadership – the next wave of community foundation practice. Community leadership takes heart, brain and courage – and above all, the imagination to click one’s heels and know in your heart of hearts that doing so will take you home.

To get you started, here are a couple of resources for community foundations interested in diving into public policy and advocacy:

Foundations for Civic Impact:  Advocacy and Civic Engagement Toolkit for Community Foundations

For a list of  publications for nonprofits and foundations by the Alliance for Justice, visit

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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