Key Points

The merits of advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are widely agreed upon by the global community, but designing and applying strategies to do so at the local level can be challenging. This article aims to support community foundations in moving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development forward in practical ways by exploring the use of a point-of-entry wheel to create a shared language that can help community foundations align their local efforts with the global goals.

Since 2012, Collaboratory has been exploring the potential for integrating sustainability — encompassing economic, social, and environmental pillars — as a strategic framework to advance its mission in a five-county region in Southwest Florida. The article examines how the foundation developed the wheel and applied it to its philanthropic work, presenting examples of success and failure and discussing where the tool has been most helpful and has added undue burdens. It also suggests modifications to the tool for other community foundations seeking to use the Sustainable Development Goals to prioritize, administer, and assess their own work.

Collaboratory found that the process of SDG alignment made its local philanthropic work more coherent, relevant, and adaptable over time. The SDGs can help community foundations leverage assets and showcase impact, demonstrating efficacy to current and future stakeholders. The foundation also identified areas where further peer-learning between practitioners in the field is needed to refine approaches and processes and to build philanthropic capacity around the global goals.

Open Access