Four Ways the Arkansas Community Foundation Works with Local Nonprofits



Since it was first established in 1976, the Arkansas Community Foundation (ACF) has given over $250 million in the form of grants to improve neighborhoods, towns, and the state as a whole. This statewide community funder is a critical hub for local philanthropy in the region and gives in a variety of ways to address emerging and long-term needs. Using county-by-county data published for its Aspire Arkansas project, ACF is also measuring the progress of the nonprofit community and identifying local needs that might not be obvious.

To help you wrap your head around what this community foundation does, here are four ways that ACF works with nonprofit communities across the state of Arkansas.

1. Giving Through Foundation-Directed Grants

Nonprofits will be pleased to discover that ACF does award traditional grants to local groups that aren’t necessarily tied to donor preferences.While it’s true that most ACF grants are donor-directed, there are also foundation-directed grants available through an online application process. These opportunities include Giving Tree grants, the Bridge Fund for education and libraries, the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation for minority populations, the regionally specific Arkansas Delta Endowment for Building Community fund, a summer learning initiative, and youth advisory councils made up of local high school students. Each of these opportunities has its own set of guidelines to follow and deadlines to adhere to.

2. Giving Through Affiliates

ACF has one of the most robust affiliate programs in the Southeast, with a total of 28 affiliates under its wing. There are 75 counties in Arkansas, and ACF serves all of them. However, these 28 affiliates are well-positioned to award hyper-local grants and stay more in touch with specific neighborhood needs. Each of these affiliate foundations has its own staff member and local advisory board to guide grant decisions.

3. Giving Through Community Funds

In addition to affiliates, ACF also manages community funds, which are a simple way for local philanthropists to get involved. Instead of providing the full services of an affiliate community foundation, community funds focus solely on raising money to put into a central grantmaking pool and then distributing those funds to local causes. These funds can cover a geographic area of any size, so it’s possible to establish one at ACF to benefit just a single town or small region rather than a whole county. Examples of these are the Fairfield Bay Community Fund and the Jackson County Community Fund at ACF.

4. The ArkansasGives Program

Lots of community foundations participate in annual online giving events, and ACF is no exception. ArkansasGives was hosted in April of 2015, 2016, and 2017 and challenged Arkansas residents to donate to charity. The program raised over $12 million and supported over 900 nonprofits. Sign up for the ACF newsletter to learn about future opportunities like this.

You can read more about this funder in IP’s full profile of the Arkansas Community Foundation.