What makes the global spread of community philanthropy organizations so exciting is the variety of forms they take, adaptations to different local contexts, challenges, resources, and leaders. The core similarities matter—all in some way help geographic communities mobilize financial and other kinds of capital for improvement of the lives of residents. But so do the differences. Some have endowments, some don’t. Some are large, more are small. Some call themselves community foundations, others do not. This diversity is one sign of community philanthropy’s flexibility, potential, and rising popularity.
But it also presents a challenge to those who want to better understand and support community philanthropy, especially on a global level. A practice so varied, so organic and tied to local conditions, complicates classification, resists general conclusions, and calls for lots of learning through example. A movement relatively young and quickly evolving, with a limited body of applied research, requires ongoing documentation and study.
So it was that the C.S. Mott Foundation—which has supported a number of initiatives to strengthen and expand community philanthropy—commissioned Barry Knight of CENTRIS to explore the work and develop case studies of eight community philanthropy organizations (seven of which have been GFCF grantees) around the world:
• Amazon Partnerships Foundation (Ecuador)
• Black Belt Community Foundation (United States)
• Bolu Donors Foundation (Turkey)
• Community Foundation for South Sinai (Egypt)
• Fundacion Comunitaria de la Frontera Norte (Mexico)
• Healthy City Community Foundation (Slovakia)
• Instituto Comunitário Grande Florianópolis (Brazil)
• Tuzla Community Foundation (Bosnia)