Columbus Foundation staffers announce the results of the foundation's 2011 Big Give campaign.
Generosity makes a difference in central Ohio, but how does Columbus stack up against other major metro areas in terms of charitability?
Pretty well, as it turns out.
Columbus is the 15th most populous city in the U.S. But the Columbus Foundation, the area’s community foundation that oversees funds and advises groups and individuals in their philanthropic pursuits, is the ninth largest foundation of its kind in the country.
The most recent nationwide ranking – put together by the Foundation Center, an international philanthropy and fundraising research group – places Columbus above larger cities such as Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Austin.
“There are a lot of larger cities whose primary community foundation is nowhere close to the Columbus Foundation,” says Jim Ginter, a professor emeritus at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, who manages a donor-advised fund through the foundation with his wife, Ida.
The foundation manages more than $1 billion in assets among almost 2,000 individual funds, as well as 29 supporting foundations and one statewide affiliate. It has given out almost $1.3 billion in grants since its formation in 1943.
In 2011 alone, some 17,500 donors contributed almost $250 million to the foundation’s funds, and grants to nonprofits from the foundation and its donors topped $106 million. That $250 million contribution in 2011 is up from $109 million raised in 2010, thanks in large part to a $163.4 million gift from Limited Brands and to the foundation’s Big Give campaign in November 2011.
“Within a 24-hour period, we leveraged $8.5 million that supported 502 nonprofit organizations” with the Big Give, says Beth Fisher, vice president of donor services and development for the Columbus Foundation.
There’s more to the foundation’s work – and to the generosity of Columbus residents as a whole – than just assets, though.
“I think the important thing to remember is these assets will be invested into the community, and what that really means is the whole process of giving is working,” says Fisher.
For Ginter, the presence of the Columbus Foundation means more and better opportunities to give. Not only do its managed funds allow donors greater flexibility in how and when they give their money, the foundation’s reliability provides reassurance that money invested in a fund is safe, he says.
Garth Bishop is editor of CityScene Magazine. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.