Collaborating within the philanthropy ecosystem: a conversation with Nicole Taylor and Kim Laughton of Schwab Charitable

SVCF president and CEO Nicole Taylor was recently featured on Giving with Impact, a podcast series from Stanford Social Innovation Review, developed with the support of Schwab Charitable. Nicole joined Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable, for a conversation about philanthropy and the present and future states of philanthropic impact solutions.  Below are a few takeaways from their conversation:

The evolving roles of community foundations

Nicole explains how community foundations are experts on their communities’ most pressing issues, and help donors maximize the effectiveness of their charitable efforts.  She elaborates on SVCF’s unique positioning as the nation’s largest community foundation in a region that faces bigger wealth disparities than anywhere else in the country, which brings up the responsibility of SVCF to help solve the region’s urgent social challenges. SVCF plays a critical role in convening leaders in the public sector, corporations, other foundations, and nonprofit organizations. The community foundation also harnesses the power of individuals to use all the tools in our philanthropic toolbox – including engaging our donors, grantmaking and public policy efforts — to solve the systemic inequities that burden the lives of too many of our community members.  

Collaboration amplifies donor and community impact

Nicole explains that SVCF does much more than just facilitate effective philanthropy in the region.  SVCF deploys its team of policy, field and content experts on specific issues (immigration, civic participation, census, education, housing and transportation) to help other foundations and community-based organizations leverage intellectual capital to inform their work.  Collaboration helps all groups maximize their efforts and investments in order to solve challenges faster.

National donor advised fund sponsors and community foundations are part of a rich philanthropic ecosystem

Some may view Schwab Charitable—which also sets up and administers donor advised funds at a national level—as a competitor of SVCF, but Kim and Nicole discuss how the two entities can work together in one ecosystem to support donors’ needs and effect change.

Donor advised funds created through financial institutions like Schwab Charitable can easily transform investible assets, non-cash assets, publicly traded securities and privately held assets into charitable gifts, and help donors give more than they otherwise would, at low-cost.

“Community foundations add value by helping people to understand the problems and where they can give,” explains Kim. “A place like Schwab Charitable is never going to be expert at the problems of communities and the pros and cons of various charities, and I don’t think we should ever pretend to be experts.”

Nicole adds that at a time when donor advised funds are an energized topic of discussion and debate, SVCF partnering with Schwab Charitable can be invaluable, as the ultimate goal is to increase the scale of philanthropic investment and effectiveness of giving.

“We have got to help our donors, whether they’re at a community foundation or Schwab Charitable or any other entity that has a donor advised fund vehicle, get more money to the ground,” says Nicole.

The future of philanthropy

Kim notes that millennials have shown great interest in incorporating charitable giving into their financial planning goals. Schwab Charitable is currently partnering with Stanford University to integrate charitable planning into training curriculum for financial planners and wealth managers. Kim hopes that this will lead to more ubiquitous conversations about philanthropy as it relates to wealth and financial management.   

Nicole sees community foundations continuing their roles as go-to centers of philanthropy and philanthropic solutions. She refers back to the idea of a rich philanthropy ecosystem, and hopes that community foundations and national donor advised fund providers like Schwab Charitable continue to deepen their relationships and collaborate together to further address social innovation.

To listen to the full podcast, visit the Stanford Social Innovation Review.