Community Foundations vs. Impact Investing


Community Foundations used to be the only place where your money could “do good” because most traditional banks offered only for-profit investments. With consumers shifting towards investing for positive impact, banks are now increasing the options available for social purpose impact investment.

Having lost their monopoly on conscious investing, Community Foundations find themselves in the middle of a rapidly growing marketplace with their uniqueness dwindling and donor expectations rising.


As consumer preferences have shifted, ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) investing, social impact investing and charitable gift programs have grown to be part of the standard offerings of wealth management firms and financial institutions. Coupled with their robust administrative engines, which provide easy to access investor statements, white-glove customer service, and simple tax management, banks are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the charitable space.  Savvy investors are considering investment service providers as a one-stop-shop for all their financial needs.  They want convenience, transparency, and speed on top of the “good” investing, like being able to log in online, see fund returns and charitable giving information.


Since financial institutions have moved into impact investing, many donors are expecting Community Foundations to provide a professional level of service, enabled by technology.  Large banks deliver online portals and transactions, immediate personalized service and quick turnaround times. Community Foundations don’t have the luxury of large budgets for donor relationship management and will have to take innovative approaches in their digital strategies to provide the high level, digitally enabled services donors are demanding.  

GrantBook helps Community Foundations by recommending right-sized tools that work together to meet their donor needs.


If your Community Foundation is considering an investment in technology, it is important to ask the right questions before choosing tools. For example,

  • What are the priorities and needs of all stakeholders?
  • How can we reduce inefficiencies while remaining diligent and compliant?
  • How can we get a team agreement on how to move forward?

Working with Community Foundations, Grantbook has seen success in implementing cloud-based fund and grants management systems with donor portals and self-serve options.  This solution eases the administrative burden placed on Community Foundation staff members. Taking advantage of automation and integrations between e-mail, e-commerce and newsletter solutions can reduce manual data entry and errors.  These types of solutions allow Foundation staff to work more openly, breathe easier and take the time needed to focus on strategic activities.


Managing through change is a challenge in any organization.  Transforming people, organization, processes, and technology is even harder.  However, when co-development with full stakeholder inclusion is applied, the risk of a failed technology investment is greatly mitigated.

Through Grantbook’s experience in Digital Strategy, we’ve seen the benefits of bringing staff members together to share their concerns, challenges, and ideas for moving forward.Creating alignment on a Digital Strategy can allow a Community Foundation to make small innovations already in the minds of staff. While technology tools and solutions can enable innovation, investing in the users of these tools is where these game-changing moments can occur.

The  “how” of transformation is the key to Community Foundation sustainability and relevance.  With the appropriate strategy, Community Foundations can make the most of their nimble size to positively impact their communities.

James Law

Director, Relationship Development

Philanthropy Solutions Advisor, Client Services

I am curious about people. I like learning about our motivations, passions, emotions and challenges as humans. While technology and processes are important in helping drive our work. The strategies and goals that these support come from individuals and teams - getting to know these communities is what drives me.