I won't make you wait. The California Community Foundation was named one of the most effective foundations in the country in April by the National Center for Responsive Philanthropy (see California Community Foundation: Los Angeles Grants). But with all the competition here from some of the nation's wealthiest donors — Eli Broad, David Geffen, Patrick Soon-Shiong... it goes on and on — it's interesting that the CCF bubbled up to the top.
One of the reason the CCF is so effective, at least according to the Center, is that the foundation "provides a greater percentage of its grant dollars to prioritize and empower marginalized communities than virtually any other community foundation in the nation."
The CCF had plenty of impressive company. The Levi Strauss Foundation was named the top corporate foundation; the NoVo Foundation took the top spot for large private foundation; and the Woods Fund of Chicago took earned the top ranking for small or mid-sized private foundations.
The award is another cause for celebration at the foundation, as they’re coming off a record-breaking funding year. CCF made $133 million in grants available to nonprofit organizations, with more than two-thirds of that total, or $94 million, going to organizations in the Greater Los Angeles area. It was a huge total, and was an increase of roughly 10% from the year before. (Read CCF vice president of programs, Nike Irvin's IP profile).
"CCF masterfully uses the full range of tools at the disposal of a grantmaking public charity to achieve these goals," a Center statement said. Of those tools, the CCF has embraced grantmaking from their endowment and other funds and fundraising; providing loans for affordable housing, support for nonprofit organizations, and addressing key issues with partners.
"I'm a civil rights lawyer at heart, and I will tell you that philanthropy is no different than civil rights," foundation president Antonia Hernandez said in a statement. "It is a tool, and wealth is the tool to empower people."
Maybe this goes without saying given the award, but for LA fundraisers, it definitely provides a sense of CCF's funding profile. Effective nonprofits — particularly those with clear measures of their impact — are most likely to earn funding. Early this year, the foundation announced their first grants of 2013, and arts, education, health, and immigrant integration led the charge.
Education received major support from the foundation, at just more than $500,000, and overall, CCF provided $2.3 million for LA nonprofits.