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The Fund has been an independent entity since 2009, when it incorporated as a UK-registered charity with an independent board of trustees. In 2010, it established its head office in Johannesburg, South Africa (as a Section 21 Company).

Before its independent status in 2009, the Fund had been a three-year pilot project, set up in January 2006 as the joint initiative of the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and WINGS (Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support). The project was intended as a means of supporting the development of community foundations in transitioning and developing countries. In its pilot phase the Fund was hosted by the European Foundation Centre in Brussels, and a Management Committee was appointed to oversee its programmes and operations. Since the launch of its grantmaking programme in June 2006, the Fund has made grants amounting to US 3.2 million to 157 organizations in 52 countries.

In September 2007, the Fund embarked on a detailed feasibility process to assess how ready it was to move to the status of an independent entity. This extensive consultation provided the rationale for an independent Fund and strengthened the grounds for its incorporation. Among the key points to emerge from the consultation there was:

  • Broad support for the institutionalization of the Fund as a new funding partner that can serve as an important source of support for the fast-growing global field of organized community philanthropy by helping to build capacity in the early stages
  • A sense that the Fund’s grantmaking and non-grantmaking activities enabled it to play a unique role in facilitating debate and creative thinking about how philanthropy at community level fits with other development processes
  • Support for the Fund to focus its programmes primarily on philanthropic institutions in developing countries and emerging economies
  • An understanding that structures and networks needed to be developed to both represent and also connect this emergent global field
Nana Oye Mansa Yeboaa, Akuapem Community Foundation, Ghana