The Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland was founded in 1997 by a group of 18 Lakeland residents, led by Jack Grady. After meeting with President of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and hearing of their success, a steering committee was formed to execute a feasibility study.
The study showed that Lakeland is a city blessed by people who believe in giving back to the community, and that the creation of the Community Foundation of Greater Lakeland would only enhance that spirit. It was decided that the most efficient way ensure the building of the best Foundation was to affiliate with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay until the CFGL was ready to operate independently.
The plan was for the CFGL to remain an affiliate until $10 million in assets were acquired, which, based on the rate of growth of other foundations, was determined to be approximately five years. The Lakeland community was unbelievably receptive to the Community Foundation, however, and in a little over a year, the goal of $10 million in assets was reached. In July 2000, the CFGL received IRS non-profit status, and was touted as the fastest-growing community foundation in the Southeast.
History of Community Foundations
The first community foundation was established in Cleveland in 1914. Shortly after, foundations began springing up in communities across the country. Today, there are more than 650 Community Foundations across the country.
Community foundations - through philanthropy that is visionary, diverse and inclusive - have become catalysts for improvements in cities of all sizes. Community Foundations hold approximately $29.7 billion in assets and are located in almost every region and/or state in the country. Each year, these foundations give billions of dollars to a wide variety of nonprofit activities, such as the arts, education, environmental projects, and health and human services.
Community foundations range in size from the largest, the New York Community Trust, with assets totaling more than $1.7 billion, to some with assets of $100,000 or less. The funds are invested in diverse portfolios and management is a major aspect of community foundations' work. All share the common goal of serving donors, nonprofit organizations and their communities. They routinely work with families, individuals, and professional advisors to design gift plans that fit every economic situation, ensuring that donors receive the most benefit from their charitable contributions and that their philanthropic dollars are used to the maximum degree.