Key Points

The concept of “community” in community foundations is being reframed – less strictly tied to the specific locales that originally defined their boundaries and increasingly about a process of engagement and a resulting sense of belonging.

The greatest asset of a community foundation is not the size of its endowment, but its knowledge of community and ability to use this knowledge for positive change.

This article explores the Canadian network of community foundations’ use of the reporting tool Vital Signs to implement a knowledge-driven approach to leadership and how it is using this knowledge in more inclusive, engaged models of community to drive change agendas in their own communities and, collectively, at a national scale.

In implementing knowledge as a leadership tool, there remains a vast difference between what is feasible for the large community foundations and the small and new ones, particularly those in more isolated places. In spite of these constraints, community knowledge can become a means of scaling attention to particular issues and give many community foundations the confidence to frame issues in new ways.

Open Access