New GFCF grants in China, Mongolia and India!

A grant for US $20,000 to the Guangdong Harmony Foundation will support a project to map the community foundation landscape in China, focusing on the characteristics, purposes and relationships with other sectors of this emerging set of institutions. Meanwhile, in Mongolia, a grant for US $15,000 will MONES, the Mongolian Women’s Fund to develop an online giving portal to promote local philanthropy. And in India, with a grant of US $10,000 Gramin Evam Nagar Vikas Parishad (GENVP) will be exploring the feasibility of creating a Dalit community foundation in Bihar.

A full list of GFCF grants made in 2014 and 2015 can be found here

Local foundations in the Balkans mobilize to support flood-affected communities

Communities across the Balkans are struggling to recover from the May 2014 flooding, the worst in a century after three months of rain fell over the period of just three days. With more than half a million citizens having to flee their homes, and with tens of thousands without drinking water, Bosnia’s Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija compared the destruction to that of the country’s 1992 – 1995 war.

Stepping up in the immediate aftermath of the flooding were several local foundations based across the Balkans including the Mozaik Foundation, Trag Foundation and Tuzla Community Foundation (among others). With boots on the ground, robust networks of partners, and the flexibility to move quickly, these foundations can mobilize quickly, proving immediate relief and timely information sharing in vulnerable areas affected by such disasters.

Only a week earlier, the Tuzla Community Foundation had been awarded a grant through the GFCF’s new grants programme which focuses on the role of community philanthropy organizations and local environmental issues, with a particular interest on how community foundations can help build and foster community resilience. Who could have expected that this issue would arrive so emphatically at the foundation’s door as flood waters rose across the community?

Moving beyond immediate needs, each of these foundations will have a key role to play in assisting individuals, families and communities in rebuilding their livelihoods, and contributing to finding lasting solutions to help those affected recover. To support these organizations in their vital work, please refer to links below for information on how to contribute to the Balkans flood relief.

Mozaik Foundation (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Trag Foundation (Serbia)

Tuzla Community Foundation (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

European Foundation Centre


Photo courtesy of Mozaik Foundation


Community philanthropy and development: Deepening the discussion

Issue 1: Community philanthropy and mutual accountability

One of the things that Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy offers is a rather unique platform for a diverse set of donors and development practitioners to come together to expand their understanding and share learnings about complex issues in development and, in particular, how community philanthropy might perform a particular and valuable role that results in more effective development outcomes.

A few weeks’ ago a conversation began between some members of the Alliance about how community philanthropy might foster greater mutual accountability. We thought it would be good to invite others to contribute to this discussion so we tidied up what was originally an email exchange, sharpened our thinking and have published the conversation so far. Please join the discussion!

The question:

I would like be able to be able to distinguish more clearly community philanthropy from other forms of civil society support. Specifically, there is a reference in “A Different Kind of Wealth” (a GFCF publication on African community foundations) to one of the defining features of community philanthropy being “mutual accountability” between the philanthropic organization and its community. I’m wondering if you could say a bit about how you see that form of mutual accountability as distinct from efforts by outside donors to support CSOs (assuming that the donors aim to support the CSOs relationship with its community/constituency).

I also wonder if you can speak to the way that having grantmaking power affects this pre-existing mutual accountability relationship.

I suppose part of my aim is to be able, in discussions with colleagues who say “we already support mutual accountability when we work with CSOs,” to have more clarity on how the community philanthropy meaning of that term might be distinct from the typical donor efforts to support the same.

The response:

Thanks for your question about the extent to which community philanthropy can foster mutual accountability between a local philanthropic organization and its community. It is indeed a big and important question and one that, where community foundations / community philanthropy organizations are still quite young or emerging, represents both a hypothesis and a potential source of tension. The answers aren’t yet cut and dried and, within the global field at least, we have to rely somewhat on anecdotes and one-off experiences of partners we have been working with over the last few years (although the outcome indicators that the GFCF has developed in the last four to five years are aimed at facilitating the collection of evidence across a diverse set of individual organizations and geographic regions so that we can begin to talk about trends, common characteristics, etc.).

Firstly, it is probably worth emphasizing that that the report, “A Different Kind of Wealth”, focuses specifically on community philanthropy organizations that are all grantmakers to some extent or another and that we didn’t include other types of NGOs / CSOs that were seeking to leverage local philanthropic assets. So this response will focus on experiences from that narrower cohort of specifically grantmaking organizations (as against broader forms of community philanthropy).

In very practical terms, a community foundation can demonstrate mutual accountability by modelling transparency. In regard to transparency, that might include an Annual Report that outlines how grantmaking has been carried out and which groups have received what grants to do what. Because grantmaking is often the community foundation’s primary tool for fund development, it is essential that local donors see exactly how money flows to and through the community foundation if they are to be convinced to give again. It should also include annual Donor Statements that allow each donor (whether local or international) to see exactly where their money has gone. It should contain a Summary Income and Expenditure statement for the community philanthropy organisation.

By comparison, typical outside donor funding for a CSO may include requirements for an annual audit, but generally does not require that the organization publish information in a way that makes it accessible to local stakeholders. Outside donors tend to emphasize accountability (tracking, through third-party audits, how funds were spent) rather than transparency (information sharing about how funds were spent).

In terms of governance and local participation in decision-making (beyond the board itself), there have been some very interesting efforts by some community foundations to engage with power dynamics directly and root themselves more firmly and “horizontally” in their communities. Strategies include publically advertising for board members (Community Foundation for Northern Ireland), organizing community-decision making processes around the allocation of grants and then having grantees report back to those same community forums (Central American Women’s Fund and Dalia Association, Palestine), working with communities to create their own community funds within the foundation which give them a stake both as co-investors in the foundation but also decision-makers in regard to their allocation for local development purposes (Kenya Community Development Foundation) and engaging young people both in fundraising and grantmaking activities through projects such as YouthBank (where they raise the funds, decide how to allocate them and then monitor and review them, with the support of a community foundation or other hosting institution). We also have examples of foundations (e.g. Tewa in Nepal and West Coast Community Foundation in South Africa) where organizations that have received grants are encouraged to make a donation back to the foundation as a strategy for fostering a sense of co-investment / mutuality between the foundation and its partners. Of course, the potential for elite capture and for token participation always exists with any organization. But a community philanthropy institution that is making decisions about how to spend locally-raised resources often tends to have a stronger incentive toward horizontal engagement, and it is often built into governance structures or programmatic management.

Central American Women’s Fund

 By contrast, in terms of local participation in decision-making, where large outside donors support CSOs, even including re-granting facilities, their emphasis tends to be on the organization’s reach and potential array of activities to support, rather than the quality of engagement between the CSO and its constituents. Outside donors often have incentives to define a minimum standard of engagement for the CSO and push it not to go beyond that standard – so it is effectively a minimum and maximum – in order to maximize “value for money” from the donor perspective.

In the realm of governance, outside donors often have very robust governance standards. Their standards, while often high, reference compliance with international best practice or local legal requirements and tend to place emphasis on avoiding conflicts of interest among staff or board, with much less attention to formal roles for an organization’s community in its governance.

What is key here is that the simple “bricks and mortar” of the institutional framework of a community philanthropy organization are not in themselves sufficient to ensure mutual accountability, power-sharing with the community and only a clear articulation of some key values and principles by board and staff can help ward against the push and pull of forces that exist within any multi-stakeholder institutional arrangement.

And finally perhaps it is worth touching on the role of grantmaking and re-granting in all of this. A recent issue of Alliance magazine included a special focus on grantmaking. It explored whether grantmaking as a tool for achieving social change had been over-stated and whether other philanthropic and development tools might be more effective. Overall, contributors from emerging markets and developing contexts were adamant that grantmaking was an essential tool in fostering local development – and that it was so much more than a series of transactions and transfers of money (as is often the case when it comes to “re-granting” on behalf of international donors. Filiz Bikmen observed that in Turkey grantmaking is so much more than the transfer of funds; it is all about increasing the capacities of civil society, fostering connections between different groups – an investment in democratization. And Akwasi Aidoo, from TrustAfrica, also noted that in Africa, for so long dependent on donor aid and only just now beginning to experience the reality of a developed and indigenous African philanthropy sector, “grantmaking becomes an essential tool in fostering new and more horizontal and transparent forms of mutual accountability between donors and recipients; it constitutes part of a paradigm shift towards a form of development that is driven and resourced by Africans.”

What do you think? The GACP offers a valuable platform to establish a dialogue across different development approaches and agendas and what it needs is a range of different voices and perspectives. So, please, join the discussion!




Of Narratives, Networks and New Spaces: new report on Africa’s growing philanthropy support sector!

A new report, Of Narratives, Networks and New Spaces by Halima Mahomed, commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation, on the state of Africa’s philanthropy support sector notes the significant progress that has been made over the course of the last fifteen years. This progress reflects both the growth of Africa’s own homegrown philanthropic sector as well as the investments of a number international funders such as the Ford Foundation. Both of these have also resulted in the emergence of philanthropic membership networks and associations across the continent.

The report also notes that there is still a long way to go and that there also many obstacles that need to be overcome. Firstly, until now there have been neither any research nor any sector-wide conversations about existing infrastructure: this has meant the absence of a common agenda and of an African “voice” on philanthropy. Although new opportunities exist with the rise of African philanthropies, legal and fiscal frameworks, low visibility of the sector and a need to support existing leaders and grown new leaders all also prevail.

As a global organization, based in South Africa and focused on strengthening philanthropic institutions and their networks, the GFCF welcomes this report and looks foward to seeing how some of the dilemmas, questions and opportunities it raises might be turned into action!

Read the report

Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy featured in letter to New York Times

On February 28th 2014, Mirza Jahani, Chief Executive Office of the Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A., responded to an earlier article on Pakistan’s private philanthropy sector and pointed out that harnessing the creative energies of community philanthropists holds great promise both for social development and for reducing dependence. 

He wrote, “A Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy, which the Aga Khan Foundation is pleased to support along with the C.S. Mott Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Global Fund for Community Foundations and the United States Agency for International Development, has just been launched. The alliance studies and supports the practice of community philanthropy around the world. By fostering homegrown civil society energies, we can expand the capacity for self-reliance that is essential to preserving human dignity.”

The GFCF is expanding its team!

We are delighted to announce the appointment of two new senior members of staff, Avila Kilmurray and Wendy Richardson, who will be joining the GFCF in early 2014.

Avila has been the Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland since 1994 and has received international recognition for her work around philanthropy for social justice and peace, both in Northern Ireland and internationally.

The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland was a founder member of the Foundations for Peace Network, a peer network of independent indigenous funders working in contested societies. Avila has written extensively on Community Development, Women’s Issues and Conflict Transformation. She will be joining the GFCF as Director, Policy and Strategy, with particular responsibility for the Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy and will be based in Belfast.

Avila Kilmurray and Wendy Richardson

Wendy Richardson has been with the European Foundation Centre since 2005, most recently as Project Officer in charge of the EFC’s professional development programme, which seeks to enhance the skills and professional capacities of European foundation staff.

Wendy will be joining the GFCF as Coordinator, Grants and Learning and will be based in Brussels.

What’s next for community philanthropy?

The Monitor Institute’s What’s Next for Community Philanthropy initiative aims to engage the U.S. community foundation field in thinking about the future of its model in a way that builds on past successes and explores new approaches – drawn from both domestic and global examples – for serving communities moving forward. One of the tools that has been developed through the project is an exercise called “Finding and Flipping Orthodoxies”, in which “Orthodoxies” are deeply held beliefs about “how things are done,” that may or may not still be true, but that often go unstated and unchallenged and can become blind spots over time. Every organization and every industry has orthodoxies, observe the “What’s next?” project leaders including – and maybe especially – community foundations.

To learn more about the initiative you can watch Gabriel Kasper’s recent speech at the Council on Foundations 2013 Fall Conference for Community Foundations, where he walked conference attendees through an exercise aimed at challenging traditional assumptions and orthodoxies in how they go about their work. 

Calling all community foundations and community philanthropy organizations! Share your work and its effectiveness with a global audience through the Community Foundation Atlas!

As part of its contribution to the 100th anniversary of the community foundation movement in the United States, and with the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation is collaborating with the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) and the Foundation Center to create a free, online Atlas — the first of its kind — that will detail the locations, resources, roles and measurable achievements of the world’s community foundations and community philanthropy organizations. will launch in the second half of 2014.

The information gathered from the survey will be analyzed by the UK-based Center for Research and Innovation in Social Policy and Practice (CENTRIS), compellingly presented on the Atlas and made available to journalists, government officials, policy makers, potential philanthropic partners and citizen leaders, among others.

If you would like to complete the survey (and have not already received an email link that would allow you to do so) you can do so here. Questions can be directed to


GFCF awards three new grants!

In October and November 2013, the GFCF awarded three new grants to partners in Kenya, South Africa and Romania. A grant of $12,350 to the Kilimani Project Foundation in Nairobi, Kenya, will support its institutional development and start-up costs. The Community Development Foundation Western Cape (South Africa) and Covasna Community Foundation (Romania) were awarded grants of $9,140 and $8,000 respectively under a pilot programme aimed at strengthening the links between community philanthropy and the environment.

Kilimani Project Foundation, Nairobi

Community philanthropy celebrates 10 years in Latvia

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.

Rūta Dimanta, Ziedot Foundation

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