New EU grant to the GFCF explores community philanthropy as a strategy for COVID-19 response

01 Mar 2021


The GFCF has been awarded a two year grant from the European Union to support community philanthropy’s role in strengthening civil society’s response to COVID-19. The €1 million Euro project (of which the EU contribution comprises €800,000) will focus on fostering and growing community philanthropy as a specific development strategy in less developed countries, particularly in Africa.

Around the world, the global pandemic has seen local organizations and communities stepping up to respond to the impacts of the pandemic, filling critical gaps left by international actors, delivering humanitarian aid, disseminating information on the virus, and mobilizing local resources and mutual aid networks.

However, despite the critical role local organizations have continued to play throughout the pandemic, still only a tiny proportion of donor funding continues to reach local and national civil society organizations (recent figures put the amount at 2.1%).

The project will see the GFCF channeling grant funds to local partners, including community foundations, national foundations, women’s funds, and other organizations with grantmaking capacity and extensive local networks, to address the immediate health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 and to help shape longer-term community-wide processes aimed at building back better.

“For the past fifteen years, the GFCF has been working to help map, grow and raise the profile of a growing field of local grantmakers that deliberately seek to put resources and control into the hands of local organizations,” said GFCF board chair, Ian Bird. “Part of this is about being able to channel external resources directly to those that need them, but it is also about recognizing that local resources already exist and can be harnessed as both a source of financing and community power. We are excited to see funders like the EU starting to show interest in these kinds of alternative and emerging approaches.”

“The EU is committed to accelerating the localization agenda and ensuring that more funds go directly to local groups, especially during these times of COVID-19. However, local organizations that can help make that happen often lie beyond the radar and reach of large donors,” said Marlene Holzner Head of Unit of Local Authorities, Civil Society Organisations & Foundations. “Through this grant to the GFCF, which has a strong network of partners around the world and which is playing an important role in promoting community philanthropy as a durable alternative to traditional models of donor funding, we look forward to exploring and supporting this important and growing eco-system of actors and practice.”

For more information, contact Jenny Hodgson, GFCF Executive Director,

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janet mawiyoo

Many congratulations Jenny and team. ……….very proud of the doors you continue to open!! May this seed in many communities bear the much-needed fruit in expanding community philanthropy far and wide! Keep going!