Opportunity: Many foundations share the goals of engaging citizens, supporting youth education, and serving the needs of communities. State leaders can look to charitable organizations as an alternative funding pathway to help sustain public programs.
Solution: State leaders should consider appointing a Foundation Liaison to connect with and broker support from philanthropic foundations. Through this position, state government and the grantmaking community could leverage one another’s investments and efforts, working together to support in-state business, innovation, and jobs.
Examples: As the first of its kind in the nation, the Michigan Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) builds funding partnerships and strategic collaborations between the state government and the philanthropic community to support programs that improve the education and health of all Michigan residents. Foundations are actively engaged throughout OFL activities. The Foundation Liaison and OFL staff come to the state on loan from participating foundations, while contributing funders and nonprofits partly comprise the OFL Advisory Committee. Since 2003, OFL has brokered investments from seventeen foundations, totaling more than $150 million.
Based on the success of Michigan’s OFL, the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers and the City of Newark established the city’s first foundation liaison in 2007. In close partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the Office of the Newark Philanthropic Liaison garners and leverages support for public projects from the grantmaking community. From 2007 to 2016, the office brokered over $50 million in philanthropic investments for initiatives such as expanding summer youth employment and improving community literacy.