Published 2023 | RESEARCH and PUBLICATIONS

How Philanthropy Can “Go to Where the People Are”

Lessons Learned through Building Community with Field Coordinators

Across the region that The Ford Family Foundation serves, a growing movement of community builders is leading the way for more inclusive, responsive communities that meet the needs of children, young people and families. These individuals from city government employees to nonprofit leaders, community organizers and business owners implement the Foundation’s Community Building Approach and draw on a network of other committed rural advocates. Humbly positioned at the epicenter of this movement are unique employees of The Ford Family Foundation: Field Coordinators.

Emerging from a long history of different strategies aimed at building rural capacity, the Field Coordinator role is unique in the field of philanthropy and the Foundation’s rural region. Field Coordinators serve as leaders and agents for change in the communities they represent: attentive listeners, keen observers, relentless asset seekers, tireless encouragers, proactive conveners, strategic delegators, committed champions and patient partners who see and illuminate possibilities so that others might create the vision and lead the charge in rural communities.

This report summarizes key findings about how the Field Coordinator strategy has evolved to shape the Foundation’s philanthropic practice and culture. Beginning with an overview of organizational history, the report then describes the Field Coordinator role in-depth, including how it is distinct from other traditional roles in philanthropy. Lessons learned from implementing this unique role follow and describe the impact of Field Coordinators on the Foundation as well as on the communities they serve. The report ends with a discussion of some ongoing questions that remain as the Field Coordinators continue to support a growing community building movement across a vast rural region, continuously meeting communities where they are.


Full report PDF

Philanthropy Field Coordinators