Ansis Bērziņš, Community Foundation Movement in Latvia and Valmiera Community Foundation, describes a recent celebration of community philanthropy in Valmiera.
“Community Foundation Movement in Baltics – 10 years”. This was the title of international conference that brought 120 people from Latvia and ten different countries to Valmiera on 10th October, 2013, to celebrate the anniversary of community philanthropy in Latvia and the Baltic States. It was a moment to evaluate achievements, to discuss future challenges and to enjoy doing good for our local communities.
During the conference social researcher Linda Zīverte presented her case study from Talsi Region Community Foundation. She pointed that higher level of trust and collaboration in the community also brings faster economy growth, which is good evaluation for what community foundations have mostly done in Latvia. Jenny Hodgson, director of Global Fund for Community Foundations, gave insight on global trends in the field and emphasized that philanthropy becomes more and more local because donors want to give within their communities. Other speakers from Latvia, Romania and Belgium shared their experiences and challenges in local giving, fundraising and grant-making.
Ten years ago, in February and December of 2003, the first community foundations were established in Talsi and Lielvārde. Thanks to support of Baltic – American Partnership Fund, set up by Open Society Institute and the US Government, concept of locally rooted giving was strongly promoted in the Baltic States, including Latvia. A lot was invested for learning and institutional development as well as for sharing among ourselves. The Association, called the Community Foundation Movement, with 4 members was set up early on, in 2006. Now the Movement has grown to four active community foundations, two associate members and two emerging organizations willing to join the club. So far, 12% of Latvian population has access to community foundations.
Since February 2012, the Movement has acquired a new strategic partner to support its growth. The Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation, private organization, has given a 5‑year collaboration contract with financial support for operations and capacity building of existing and potential community foundations. Three foundations have attracted additional funding from Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein via EEA Financial Mechanism. This support is fundamental for professional operations and development of community foundations in Latvia.
Despite the fact that philanthropy and giving culture is still only developing, the work of Latvian community foundations has been appreciated by local communities, governments and donors. Foundations are still struggling for survival; sustainability is an issue for all non-profit organizations in Latvia. But having everybody still in the field is success in itself. Here are just some numbers to describe community foundations’ work in Latvia: 2 million dollars raised, 676 grants given to local people, 100’000 and 80’000 dollars endowments reached for two largest foundations each, and countless amount of dollars and hours spent on promoting local giving and meaningful philanthropy.
Additional information: Ansis Bērziņš, Community Foundation Movement in Latvia