The year 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first community foundation in the United States. This first foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, was followed by others including Chicago Community Trust, California Community Foundation and the Indianapolis Foundation. Community foundations are instruments of philanthropy designed to pool donations into a coordinated investment and grant making facility dedicated primarily to the social improvement of a given place. Community foundations are a global phenomenon with 1700 existing around the world of which over 700 are in the United States.
Many Muslim Americans choose give through donor advised funds with major financial institutions. CAMP is launching the Muslim Community Foundation Initiative. The Initiative seeks to have at least one Muslim American donor advised in every community foundation which is geographically located where an Islamic center exists. It is our belief that community foundations are proactive and engaged in the process of uplifting their communities. The community foundations invest in the “value” proposition. The value proposition does not focus solely on the return on investment (or bargain) but the larger core values of the donor. By engaging Muslim Americans with community foundations we not only make strategic investments in our communities but we upgrade the impact of our philanthropy. Donors are connected with other philanthropists in our community, are routinely invited by the community foundation to educational events that can further enhance giving and create small, middle or large gifts that will continue to serve the community well after the donor passes on.
A number of Muslim Americans are already heavily engaged with the community foundations. One of the largest community foundations in the US, Chicago Community Trust, has a Pillars Fund that aggregates Muslim American giving and gives out annual grants. Models like this need to be replicated across the country and CAMP is committed to provide the education and outreach to make this happen.