Involvement of Foundations in Economic Development

Ardyn M. Thriffiley

Involvement of Foundations in Economic Development, July 2014

I was recently discussing a request for proposal with two economic development consulting colleagues and we noted that one of the partners in the project was a regional foundation, which led the three of us to the realization that we each were working with foundations this year on economic and workforce development projects.     We wondered whether this was a new trend beginning to form as, in our average 25 years as economic development practitioners, we had not found foundations to be especially active.

The projects we have worked on included an economic development strategy for the foundation’s home town, an intensive review of a group of local, state and regional economic development organizations and the strategic alignment of their functions, and a coastal communities economic and workforce development analysis. The foundations were regional, state and national.

For those of us who have worked with foundations, we know they do their homework prior to funding projects and expect concrete results.   They are very specific in the types of projects they fund according to the mission of their foundations.  However, their expectations are really no different than any of our other clients.

The three of us concluded we were pleased to be a part of the projects in which the foundations were funding and hoped to see more of their participation in economic development whether it be strictly funding or as active participants in the process.

We would like to learn from other economic development practitioners on the involvement of foundations in their organizations and firms, as well as their thoughts on the future potential for continued participation.


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