Sharing Knowledge. Growing Impact.

 What Insights Are You Craving?

Updated Tour Video
Updated Tour Video
Entering CF Insights Data
Entering CF Insights Data
Creating Peer Groups and Benchmarking Reports
Creating Peer Groups and Benchmarking Reports
CF Insights Members The Field
Services Expert Guidance and Analysis Checked
Peer Learning and Connections Checked
Technical Assistance
with Tools
Consulting and Project Support Checked Checked
Tools Benchmarking and Custom Reports Checked with Annotation
Dashboard for Board Presentations Checked
Activity-Based Costing Analysis Model Checked Checked
Economic Scenario Planning Model Checked Checked
Interactive Strategy Model Checked Checked
Knowledge Member Research Briefs Checked
Trend Analysis and Rankings Checked Checked
Reports on Key Issues and Ideas Checked Checked

* Columbus Survey Participants have on-demand access to a select subset of
benchmarking reports

Data We Collect
Data We Collect

Data Collected by CF Insights

All data collected by CF Insights is available to members as criteria with which to build peer groups and as the basis for over 60 on-demand reports.

Foundation Basics:

  • Fiscal Year End Date
  • Year Foundation Created
  • Staffing by Function
  • Strategic Operating Priorities
  • Affiliations with Other Foundations
  • Software Type Used
  • Engagement in the Following Areas:
    • Community Leadership
    • Fiscal Sponsorship/Fundraising
    • Fundraising for Operations
    • Nonprofit Resource Center
    • Services to Private Foundations
    • Special Initiatives


  • Urban vs. Rural
  • Population of Area Served
  • Geographic Area Served
  • State
  • Region

Assets and Funds:

  • Total Assets
  • Total Assets by Product Type
  • Total Number of Foundation Funds
  • Total Number of DAFs
  • Total Number of Funds Held at SOs
  • Total Number of SOs
  • Operating Endowment and Reserves



  • Total Operating Expenses
  • Special Initiative Operations Expenses
  • Operating Expenses as Percent of Assets


  • Total Foundation Contributions - $ and #
  • Total Contributions to DAFs - $ and #
  • Total Contributions to SOs - $ and #


  • Total Foundation Grants - $ and #
  • Total Grants from DAFs - $ and #
  • Total Grants from SOs - $ and #

Activity-Based Costing Results:

  • Contributions/Subsidies by Product - $
  • Total Cost by Product - $
  • Total Cost by Activity Type - $

Administrative Fee Schedules:

CF Insights collects the following fee information by specific product and fund type.

  • Total Fees
  • Minimum Fees
  • Minimum Fund Balance

Investment Data from the Colonial Consulting/FAOG Investment Survey:

Colonial Consulting and FAOG provide CF Insights with the results of their annual and quarterly investment surveys.

  • Annualized Returns
  • Overall Allocation
  • Equity Allocation
  • Fixed Income Allocation
  • Alternate Allocation

Contact for more information.

Assessing Community Foundation Needs and Envisioning the Future

It’s not surprising that community foundations are on the move. Over time, the role community foundations has gone beyond grantmaker, and evolved to grantmaker and community leaders. Reflecting on this, we recognize the need to take a deeper look at how community foundations are getting the support they need.

CF Insights and CFLeads are delighted to share with you our new report Assessing Community Foundation Needs and Envisioning the Future. The report assesses the current state of the field, identifies field needs and aspirations, and looks to the future by laying out specific next steps for both community foundations and PSOs to better serve those needs.

This study was informed by responses from nearly 150 community foundations and over 40 philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) and developed collaboratively by CF Insights, a service of Foundation Center, and CFLeads. Among several key insights in the report, we’ve learned that:

  • Despite recent changes in services being offered by leading PSOs in the field, community foundations still rely heavily upon three major PSOs – Council on Foundations, CF Insights, and CFLeads. Four out of five community foundations have used services provided by the Council on Foundations, while more than two in five have worked with Foundation Center/CF Insights and CFLeads. The Council has been serving community foundations for decades while CF Insights and CFLeads are newer on the scene.
  • As the work of community foundations evolves, the range of services they are seeking from PSOs appears to be evolving, as well. The survey identified more than 560 different PSOs from which community foundations have received services, demonstrating the existence of a much broader range of “infrastructure” organizations serving the field than had been previously understood. Needs are changing. Even traditional services such as staff development or strategic planning look different now that community foundations are taking on larger community leadership roles. In addition to the opportunities offered by CFLeads and CF Insights, many services are obtained from regional associations of grantmakers, with their more local orientation and convenience, and from specialized providers, such as Van Scoyoc Associates, GEO, FSG, and Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group.
  • Working with PSOs as partners across a spectrum of activities has become the norm for community foundations. In more than a dozen specific areas of activity – including strategic planning, national standards, community leadership, legal services, conferences, and staff development – more than half of community foundations have engaged the services of PSOs to assist their work. This emerging way of working suggests that thinking of PSOs solely as philanthropic “infrastructure” no longer adequately characterizes the realities of how these organizations work. There is no one-stop shop.
  • Satisfaction levels with services provided were generally quite high.  Among specific services used by at least 10 community foundations, the following stood out as particularly highly rated:

    1. More than 80 percent gave both Aspen Institute and CFLeads ratings of “high quality” on COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
    2. 79 percent gave Council on Foundations a rating of “high quality” on LEGAL SERVICES
    3. 75 percent gave CF Insights a rating of “high quality” on DATA AND RESEARCH
    4. 73 percent gave SE Council of Foundations a rating of “high quality” on STAFF DEVELOPMENT
  • During a daylong Symposium convened to discuss field needs, field leaders offered a collective vision for the continued development of productive relationships among community foundations and PSOs in both the near and long terms. This vision organized the seemingly fractured mix of service offerings that exist now.

    To more specifically draw out the implications of this vision for the field, participants developed a CF Field Structure Matrix that breaks the field down in terms of (a) the different roles played by national or field-wide PSOs and those with local, regional, or specialized scope, and (b) the roles played by community foundations both as individual organizations and as part of a larger field. The Matrix identifies a series of niches in which needed services for the field may be further developed, such as:

    1. Customizable models, templates, and best practices [individual foundations working in partnership with national or field-wide PSOs]
    2. Technical assistance and customized consulting based on specific needs of individual foundations [individual foundations working in partnership with local, regional, or specialized PSOs]
    3. Convenings, research, and other activities to strengthen the field [community foundations as a field, working with national or field-wide PSOs]
    4. Advancing specific practices or topics for subgroups of community foundations through peer learning and knowledge sharing [groups of foundations, working with local, regional, or specialized PSOs]
We hope you will find this data and insights useful and it generates discussion about how we can continue to evolve as a field and support one another with the most timely and innovative resources. For more information please read Assessing Community Foundation Needs and Envisioning the Future or contact Deborah Ellwood at CFLeads or David Rosado at CF Insights, a service of Foundation Center.


Additional Resources

Download our basic inventory of top service providers (XLSX, 452 kb) for the 17 services in the survey informing the report, as identified by the community foundation respondents.

Download a full Distribution of Service status visualization (XLSX, 43 kb) for philanthropy-serving organizations who have responded to our survey, referenced in the report on page 19.




Fueling Impact
Fueling Impact
2008 Columbus Webinar
2008 Columbus Webinar
Pathway to Business Model Innovation Getting to "Fueling Impact"
Pathway to Business Model Innovation Getting to "Fueling Impact"
Launching a New Study: Strategic Value of DAFs
Launching a New Study: Strategic Value of DAFs
Do More Than Grow Webinar
Do More Than Grow Webinar
Columbus Training Webinar - FY 2013
Columbus training webinar
Columbus training webinar
Columbus Training Webinar - May 2012
Columbus Training Webinar - May 2012
CF Insights Columbus Data Training Webinar
CF Insights Columbus Data Training Webinar

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