For Doug Kridler, president and CEO of The Columbus Foundation, philanthropy is about moving communities forward and building bonds between the inhabitants. To encourage philanthropy, Kridler says citizens must be given convenient access to information on local nonprofit organizations, including what they stand for and exactly how to donate. To this end, The Columbus Foundation has created an online database of such information.
The foundation has enabled more than 1,800 individuals, families and businesses to create unique funds to support community causes they care about. Donors have granted more than $1.2 billion since its founding in 1943, making The Columbus Foundation the ninth largest community foundation in the nation.
Because of Kridler’s leadership in inspiring investment in central Ohio, Smart Business, U.S. Bank and Blue Technologies named him to the 2011 class of Columbus Smart Leader honorees. Kridler told us how The Columbus Foundation uses its information database to make philanthropy easier and more accessible.
Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
There is a need for donors to have access to the best information possible to make sure that what they are given is informed and effective. We created an online information and giving platform that enables foundation donors and the general public to access information about our local nonprofits’ finances, stewardship, mission and programs online, anytime.
In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
Innovative leaders are those that recognize that great ideas can come from anywhere in an organization. I try to nurture an atmosphere of support and respect for innovative thought throughout our organization.
In terms of innovation in our services to our donors and to our community, Power Philanthropy, our online database of community information, is cutting edge in our field. It helps donors get online, 24/7 access to information to help ensure that their giving is as informed and effective as possible.
How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
Philanthropy invests in the best ideas to help people move their lives and their community forward. Last year, we and our donors invested over $80 million. We also work hard to celebrate points of community accomplishment. The Gallup Organization recently released a three-year, 26-city study that concluded that ‘Emotional connection does drive economic growth in communities. Surprisingly, social offerings, openness and beauty are far more important than people’s perceptions of the economy, jobs or basic services in creating a lasting emotional bond between people and their community.’ We are about building that bond, the community pride that inspires optimism and continued investment in community progress.
How to reach: The Columbus Foundation, (614) 251-4000 or www.columbusfoundation.org
See all of the 2011 Columbus Smart Leaders on the next page.