The Community Foundation of South Jersey was created by a group of committed and passionate New Jersey residents with the assistance of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, which recognized the need for a community foundation to serve the specific needs of southern New Jersey. Research clearly indicated that a community foundation would benefit the local area, and would help people of every race, gender and class take pride in supporting their local community. Giving to, and supporting where you live and work makes philanthropy personal.
Communities and individuals in southern New Jersey have historically been philanthropic, but not always through formal, organized philanthropy. Data provided by “New Jersey Gives,” revealed that New Jersey is home to over 2,400 private grantmaking foundations, all with their own approaches and strategies to address community issues but with few direct connections or partnerships with other foundations to work together to resolve those issues. While all giving is inherently good, philanthropy that is organized and collaborative drives lasting change and is effective. Community foundations are known to bring about lasting change through organized giving opportunities.
The idea that wealth could be captured and held within the region to benefit the people that live there was the cornerstone in seeking grant support from the Ford Foundation to help launch this effort. Ford’s expression of support for the development of a community foundation for southern New Jersey was welcome news. The Ford Foundation was interested in supporting an effort that embodied community ownership and the region’s diversity. The Foundation’s willingness to underwrite a planning process provided a wonderful opportunity for developing a community foundation that would encourage giving, and use that wealth to benefit the community.