In 1969, the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy was started as the Coordinating Council for Foundations, serving the Greater Hartford community, by Jack Riege of the Knox Foundation, William Connelly of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Sam Fuller with the Answorth Foundation at Hartford National Bank, Bill Graulty at Connecticut Bank & Trust Company, Allyn Bernard of United Bank, Dick Suisman of the Suisman Foundation, and Jerry Bartholomew of the Howard and Bush Foundation.
They were quickly joined by the Barnes Foundation, the Auerbach Foundation, the Koopman and Schiro Funds, the Hartford Courant Foundation and the Hartford National Bank.
Bob Merriman was the organization's executive director, and the first-year budget was $25,000 funded by grants from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the founding foundations.
Their foresight in seeing the need for such an organization was rewarded when, shortly thereafter, the Tax Reform Act of 1969 was signed into law by President Nixon as a response to reports of foundation misuses of business holdings, failures to distribute funds for charitable purposes, self-dealing and other abuses. The act had a major impact on private philanthropy. It introduced a new classification system that sharply distinguished between ‘private foundations' and other charitable organizations. For private foundations it also introduced a new regulatory system, new regulatory sanctions, a new tax on investment income and new restrictions on the deductibility of property gifts.
The newly created Council enabled its members to act as a group to make sure that negative observations of the foundation field would not apply to them, and that requests for funding would be answered quickly and equitably. In 1997, with support from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, the United Way of Greater New Haven and others, the Council expanded to serve Greater New Haven, and in 1999, the Council changed its name to the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, recognizing its statewide service.
Despite all the changes over the years, some things remain the same. The public sector is still calling for accountability and transparency for private foundations and the Council is still providing a voice for philanthropy and a place where funders learn from each other and work together.