The Community Foundation Atlas is an online project aimed at mapping community philanthropy the world over. A joint collaboration of the Cleveland Foundation, the Global Fund for Community Foundations, WINGS and the Foundation Centre, the Atlas seeks to detail the locations, resources, roles and measurable achievements of the world’s community foundations and community philanthropy organizations.
Preliminary data from the survey reveals a rich and diverse global landscape of community change that is being driven by community foundations and community philanthropy organizations. So far we have responses from 458 community foundations or community philanthropies from 42 different countries around the world. They come in all sizes and shapes. For example, 28 of them have no paid staff while 8 have more than 50. They are involved in a wide variety of different activities but more than 95 per cent of them see their main accountability being to local people. The range of their work on the ground is enormous: from addressing domestic abuse, to community mobilization in contexts of extreme violence, to leading local educational reform and to reviving lost traditions of apple farming.
When asked about the “most meaningful change” that their organizations had brought about, here’s how some of the respondents answered:
“We have established a local community group to develop and open a “green” nonprofit coop/laundry mat in an underserved neighborhood that will be supplied in part through a network of community gardens we helped to establish as a community-wide initiative and is intended to serve as a center of community engagement through selected programming and other activities.”
“The concept of community foundation is new to Haiti. In our pilot region, hundreds of local leaders from all sectors of society took part in our regional planning process. Thanks to our work, the vision of a Haiti community foundation has been inspiring community leaders, gaining traction and is steadily moving forward on the path of becoming a reality.”
“Since people start to be aware of their own potential significant changes have occurred. People start to mobilize themselves to change their spaces into a more dignified environment, improving their housing, community c enter and so on. When they can start to imagine all the possible solutions for their own community development, social change is happening.”
“We help to fund a new initiative that does two things: 1) brings organizations together to explore more collaborative ways to bring about positive change and to strengthen the community’s competitive advantage; and 2) helps local organizations (non-profits and government entities) apply for competitive funding available at the federal level. This initiative is helping to transform our community culture from one that used to cherish “the lines that divide” to one that understands the value of working together across sec tors and disciplines.”
“Although our community foundation is new and small, we have been tackling three major challenges: the first one is that Hungarian soc iety, both at the loc al and national levels, is increasingly fragmented and divided along lines of politic al orientation, ec onomic position, and social status. T aken together, it makes joint action, suc h as starting a new organisation for the good of all, fairly difficult. T he sec ond issue is the ec onomic crisis in the country, the worst in the last 25 years, meaning that everybody bec ame more c autious with their money, and reluctant to take risks and try out new things. And the third challenge was the lac k of an in-country example to follow, as there were no operating c ommunity foundations in Hungary. We reflect regularly on our work and understand that more change-making lies ahead than behind us.”
“Promotion of the concept of philanthropy in the community through initiation of Random Act of Kindness Day.”
“Our community development foundation is a unique organization. In a landscape where many not-for profits look to external donors for their sustenance, we look within Kenya and ensure it has its own investments to finance its activities. In a context where most donors and grant makers impose their agendas on communities, we support communities to be drivers of their own development agenda.”
What is the most meaningful change that has your organization has been involved in in your community? Join the survey and add your voice to this rich global picture! If you haven’t already filled in the survey, please do so at