In 1990, a group of area civic leaders came together to discuss how to participate in a newly announced incentive being funded by Lilly Endowment. “Giving Indiana Funds for the Future,” or GIFT, was an initiative of the Endowment aimed at helping Indiana counties, particularly rural counties, create community foundations.
A New Concept
At the time, the community foundation concept was relatively new in most parts of Indiana. Unlike private foundations, community foundations are designated as "public charities" by the Internal Revenue Service because they raise a significant portion of their resources from a broad cross-section of the community each year. They are independent organizations that receive money from a variety of sources including individuals, families, businesses, corporations, government agencies, and private foundations.
Designed for Regional Impact
From the start, the early organizers of what would become an alliance of community foundations believed that a regional structure could provide greater benefits at lower cost. Such a structure not only would allow for cost-effective administration and governance but also would free local leaders to focus on building endowment, working with donors and grantmaking in their local communities.
The Alliance Is Formed
The Community Foundation Alliance was incorporated in March 1991. The Posey County Community Foundation and Vanderburgh Community Foundation were the first to join the Alliance, followed by the Daviess, Perry, and Gibson county community foundations in 1993, the Spencer and Knox county community foundations in 1996, and the Warrick and Pike county community foundations in 1998. These nine community foundations elected to join the Alliance rather than bear the expense of creating and staffing their own separate charitable nonprofit corporations.