Boston Foundation launches innovative resource to enhance charitable giving: The Giving Common

Launch event at JFK Library features address from philanthropists Joyce and Bill Cummings, announcement of October challenge

Boston – Today the Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, formally announced the launch of The Giving Common, an innovative web-based resource designed to provide comprehensive and current information about nonprofit organizations across Massachusetts, and to make informed, online charitable giving easy, quick and meaningful.

“The Giving Common represents a watershed moment for personal philanthropy in Greater Boston,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, which is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors for community benefit or special purposes. “Never before have Boston-area donors so easily been able to see and analyze the missions, program offerings and financial information of Massachusetts nonprofits in one place – and immediately target their donations to the organizations of their choice.”

The site launches with detailed profiles of more than 300 nonprofits that voluntarily participated in the program. It allows donors to search, discover, learn about and donate to their favorite nonprofits through a single portal. New organizations are signing up and being added to the site, givingcommon.org, every day. Organizations interested in completing their profiles can learn more by visiting the “Getting Started” section of GivingCommon.org.

 At a kickoff event today at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, the Foundation also announced a “Giving Common Challenge” scheduled for October 10th. Members of the public will be encouraged to discover and donate to nonprofits listed on the Giving Common, in an effort to raise millions for local organizations in a 36-hour fundraising blitz. All organizations with a Giving Common profile completed by August 1st will be eligible to receive challenge grant awards from the Boston Foundation as part of the “Giving Common Challenge.”

“The goal of the Challenge is to raise the visibility of the Massachusetts nonprofit sector,” said Jennifer Aronson, Director of Nonprofit Effectiveness for The Boston Foundation. “Nonprofits play such an important role in the life of the Commonwealth – we hope this event will raise awareness and much-needed funding for these organizations, and that the Giving Common will give them a chance to tell their unique stories and demonstrate their impact to an audience that is interested in supporting their important work.”

To celebrate the launch, the Foundation also welcomed renowned Boston philanthropists Bill and Joyce Cummings to speak at the launch event. The Cummings family has already given away more than 90 percent of their accumulated fortune to philanthropic causes. In addition, Bill and Joyce Cummings were the first family in Massachusetts to sign the Giving Pledge. The pledge was launched by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett – it asks the nation’s wealthiest families to donate at least half of their fortunes to philanthropic causes.

“Having just established two new grant-making foundations, we very much appreciate that tools like the Giving Common will make it easier for donors to find those causes they wish to support, while giving nonprofits new ways to demonstrate their values and their contributions to the communities they serve," said Bill and Joyce Cummings. "Making information so accessible will allow us, and many others, to give more easily and effectively.”

The Giving Common is powered byGuidestar, the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization, and gives organizations an opportunity to fill out an enhanced profile that includes mission statements, program offerings, governance and management information and indicators of success at addressing critical issues. The profile information can also be integrated into other sites that use the Guidestar network, saving nonprofits time and effort updating profiles. Donors can search for organizations by geography or areas of focus, and use tools built into the site to make donations.

The site has met with praise from many quarters, including from Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley. “The Giving Common makes a valuable contribution to enhancing the transparency of information about non-profits,” said Coakley.  “By creating a common format and supporting non-profits as they present their information, the Giving Common is helping charitable organizations tell their stories while also helping donors to identify nonprofits working on the causes they want to support.“

“In our research and program operations, The Boston Foundation has always put a spotlight on the critical role of data in addressing problems,” said Grogan. “The Giving Common is a natural outgrowth of that – it puts the power of data in the hands of donors, and gives nonprofits new tools to demonstrate their value to the community.”

With more than 300 organizations having already completed their profiles, the Giving Common launch is the biggest of its kind by a community foundation.

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The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of $850 million.  In 2011, the Foundation and its donors made almost $78 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $81 million. The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.

In 2012, the Boston Foundation and The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) merged, with TPI operating as a distinct unit of the Boston Foundation.  Over the last 20 years, TPI has been a leading philanthropic advising organization.  Its work to advance the field of strategic philanthropy includes the first-ever conference on the intergenerational transfer of wealth, the Excellence in Family Philanthropy training curriculum and the Center for Global Philanthropy which, in part, supports indigenous philanthropy in countries around the globe.  For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit www.tbf.org or call 617-338-1700.