Philadelphia Foundation Aims to Shift Focus, Boost Fundraising

Philadelphia Foundation Aims to Shift Focus, Boost Fundraising

As he settles in as the new president and CEO of the , Pedro Ramos is looking to leaders of other successful community foundations for advice about refocusing its mission and boosting its fundraising, the reports.

Since succeeding R. Andrew Swinney in July, Ramos has embarked on a "listening tour" to learn more about some of the things that successful community foundations in other parts of the country are doing. One of those organizations, the , works closely with the and has become a model of sorts for Ramos, an attorney who chaired the in Philadelphia. One of Ramos's primary concerns, however, is fundraising. Contributions to the foundation fell from $21 million in 2007 to $17 million in 2013, even as the region's economy improved over that span. The Philadelphia Foundation held assets totaling $367 million in 2014 — up $15 million from 2007. In contrast, the Pittsburgh Foundation saw its assets increase in value to more than $1 billion in 2013, up $106 million since 2007.

Confirming to the Inquirer that the foundation's previous chief fundraiser was let go, Ramos said that few philanthropies have been able to tap into the region's burgeoning wealth in the finance and technology fields. "There are bridges to be built," Ramos told the Inquirer. "We have an obligation to engage them. That’s our job as a community foundation."

But before a new fundraising team is hired, the organization aims to solidify its strategic direction. The foundation, which had long awarded operating grants and kept away from political issues such as reforming the public school system, is working to ensure it can appeal to the changing demographics of the city, which has seen an influx of millennials while a quarter of the city is living in poverty. "We can't afford to not get it right," Ramos said. "We have to act with a sense of urgency."

Erin F. Arvedlund. "." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/23/2015.