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A New Relationship Evolves Between the Forum Network and Council on Foundations

Friday, May 16, 2014
Guest Post by Adam Donaldson, Forum Board Member and Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers Member Services Director
Members of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) are part of the largest network serving philanthropy in the United States – the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. The Forum Network’s thirty-four regional associations serve more than five thousand members, which each benefit from the combined knowledge, connections, and leadership of all regional associations.  
To promote the growth and effectiveness of philanthropy to improve local communities, ABAG staff and our members participate in the Forum Network’s national projects and share practices to:
  • Deliver educational programming and resources;
  • Bring together grantmakers, and convene grantmakers with grantseekers, government and other partners for learning and action; 
  • Inform donors, their advisors, the media, and the general public about all forms of philanthropy; and
  • Communicate the value of philanthropy to local, state, and national policymakers and the media.
To many members of ABAG, I know that the Forum Network is an invisible resource behind the scenes of the familiar ABAG staff.  As a Member of the Board of the Forum Network, however, I am proud of the natural and intentional evolution of the Forum Network onto the stage of national philanthropic infrastructure organizations, like the Council on Foundations or the Foundation Center.  The Forum Network supports the independence of each geographic association and delivers the opportunities of a national network.  
The first regional association began in 1948, and a network of regional CEOs grew organically.  Since the 1980s, the Council on Foundations helped incubate the Forum Network, which exists legally as a type III supporting organization of the Council on Foundations.  
On March 27, 2014 Michael Litz, President of the Forum Network, and Vikki Spruill, President of the Council on Foundations announced that the Forum Network would file to become an independent 501(c)3 public charity.  I was among the Board Members from both organizations who jointly discussed and approved the change in legal status, which is pending a vote by the Forum Network membership and approval by the IRS. 
The Forum Network and Council on Foundations remain deeply committed to continuing collaboration.  As both organizations look perpetually to better serve their members and the field of philanthropy, there will be many specific joint ventures.  Each regional association will keep its members informed of these developments and continue to communicate how our members can engage with the Forum Network.
A version of this post originally appears on ABAG's blog Adventures in Philanthropy.
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