Hungary’s community foundations pull together in response to Covid-19

29 Apr 2020

Like countless other community philanthropy organizations around the world, Hungary’s two community foundations – the Ferencváros Community Foundation in Budapest and the Pécs Community Foundation in Pécs – have found themselves at the centre of Covid-19 response in their communities. They have been accompanied in this work by the Roots and Wings Foundation, a support organization which seeks to develop community foundations in Hungary. A glimpse into their creative responses, and how they came together in this moment, is included below.


Pécs Community Foundation launches support chain

The Pécs Community Foundation launched a programme to support healthcare workers, “incidentally” saving jobs and providing a market for local producers. They care about elderly people living alone and expect the role of local communities to increase as the epidemic ends.

At the initiative of the Pécs Community Foundation, a place called Breakfast cooked food (initially 50 servings) for healthcare workers. The organization’s response to the corona virus crisis is very complex: the ingredients come from local producers, while the restaurant can continue to provide work for some of its employees – so the “side effects” are also significant. The idea came from Dávid Felcser, one of Breakfast’s owners and a Trustee of the Pécs Community Foundation. The initiative is a sustainable one: the foundation finances it with 1 million HUF (approximately $3,030 USD) from its own budget. The extra support of 1 million HUF that the Pécs Community Foundation has received from the Roots & Wings Foundation is also intended to be used for this purpose.

In addition, the foundation, in cooperation with the Pécs Bike Mafia, is launching a crisis support programme called “Chow Commando” to help elderly people living alone. Thanks to the financial support received so far, 15 households will initially be provided with supplies of non-perishable foods for a period of one month, delivered to those in need by the Bike Mafia’s cyclists. The programme started with the support of the community foundation and the Pécs Bike Mafia (they gave 100,000 HUF each, or just over $300 USD), and the Pécs Community Foundation is also launching an online campaign to raise additional funds.

Read more about the Pécs Community Foundation’s work during the pandemic here.


The Ferencváros Community Foundation provides diverse support in an emergency situation

In the present crisis situation, the Ferencváros Community Foundation provides, amongst other things, immediate assistance to those most in need, seeks out those who are not covered by the social safety net, and flexibly strengthens supported local NGOs.

A few days after the emergency was declared, the Ferencváros Community Foundation provided an immediate crisis support of 1 million HUF to the Horizon Social Foundation, which, in turn, supports people in need throughout the district. In this situation, they are the ones who can make the most use of this money: disinfectants, detergents, toiletries, vitamins, immune boosters and fruits are regularly delivered to senior residents and those in need. The foundation continues to raise funds from local citizens and companies for its Crisis Fund.

The Ferencváros Community Foundation is in regular contact with the district municipality, where the crisis centre coordinates donations and volunteers, among other things. The foundation seeks to find out which social groups need help in the current emergency situation, in addition to those who are obviously the most deprived.

The foundation is running an online radio station that broadcasts programmes every other week for and with local inhabitants, related to the most important crisis intervention initiatives. Ferencváros Community Foundation also helps foreigners connected to the district, as well as the organizations that work with them, by translating corona virus-related information into English, to make sure those not speaking Hungarian very well are informed about the most important developments and the support available.

Read more about the Ferencváros Community Foundation’s response to Covid-19 here.


The Roots and Wings Foundation looks to the future

Although the life of the foundation has been shaken by the coronavirus epidemic, we are doing our best to stand up to the challenge as a support organization in these difficult times.

We have provided the community foundations in Pécs and Ferencváros with an additional grant of 1 million HUF each in the emergency situation; the extra money can be used by the organizations as they deem necessary. At the same time, we realize the value of our ongoing work and we are continuing to identify small-town community leaders. We believe that for them the financial and professional support our foundation can provide is more important now than ever.

We also considered it important for the foundation to take part in the development and dissemination of an online methodological guide for individuals and communities wishing to act and organize themselves during the lockdown. The Roots and Wings Foundation just set up the “Leap into the Future” Fund to support civic initiatives with grants totaling 3.5 million HUF (approximately $10,630 USD). We seek to support local work that strengthens communities and solidarity while fighting the pandemic and offers the hope of building a more just, inclusive and sustainable world after the crisis.

Although we unfortunately had to postpone our Live Crowdfunding Event scheduled for May, we are exploring opportunities for effective online fundraising and other ways to support those civic projects that applied. In short: we are open, please get in touch!

Visit the Roots and Wings Foundation website for further information.


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Waburoko Kizito Michael

Thank for the great work you are doing for the local communities and the globe at large.