Collaborative Leadership: Partnerships between Regional Development Organizations and Community Foundations

The NADO Research Foundation has released a new report, Collaborative Leadership: Partnerships between Regional Development Organizations and Community Foundations.

In an era of tightening government budgets, regional planning and development organizations need to think creatively about developing and funding initiatives that improve residents’ quality of life. Through partnerships with community foundations, both regional development organizations and foundations can leverage community and external funds, access knowledge and skills beyond their own areas of expertise, broaden their networks, and align work programs to best meet community needs.

This report explores the strategies and rewards behind eight partnerships. The East Central Iowa Council of Governments worked with a community foundation to recapitalize a small business assistance revolving loan fund, and the organizations have continued to collaborate on regional initiatives.  Similarly, the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission began an active partnership with the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama through a successful public health program. Central Minnesota’s Region Five Development Commission has worked with several community foundations, after establishing a strong partnership with the Initiative Foundation. Virginia’s New River Valley Planning District Commission has helped the Community Foundation of the New River Valley discover community needs, while the Foundation has helped NRVPDC engage community members. In Texas and North Carolina, foundations and regional development organizations worked together on projects to provide wildfire relief and equip a business incubator, respectively. Oregon’s Mid-Columbia Economic Development District has been working with the Meyer Memorial Trust to develop a digital tool to connect foundations with community priorities, while the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance operates a resource center to facilitate partnerships. These stories demonstrate how foundations and regional development organizations can help each other leverage resources, expand their toolkits, broaden their networks, and align their work programs.

To read the full report, click here (PDF).


Joe McKinney has served as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations since 2012. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville, North Carolina from 2003 to 2012. Under his leadership, Land of Sky became recognized nationally for its innovation in program areas including planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, aging services, volunteer services, and geographic information systems. Joe has also held various other roles in city, county, association, and government management. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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