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Frequently asked questions

What is a community foundation?

A community foundation is a local grantmaking organization which seeks to accumulate contributions from a variety of local sources and, where possible, to create a permanent asset base in the form of an endowment.

What is a support organization?

Within the framework of the Fund, the following types of organization can be considered support organizations:

  • Independent, non-profit service providers (e.g. centres on philanthropy etc.) to the civil society or philanthropic sector which demonstrate a strong understanding of the community foundation concept and sufficient technical expertise to assist community foundation development
  • Associations of community foundations which can provide services to, and organize convenings for, its members and other aspiring initiatives
  • Established community foundations with the authority, professionalism and asset base to put them in a strong enough position to provide support to less-developed community foundations in their country

My organization is involved in community development but we do not make grants. Are we eligible for a grant?

Grantmaking is a defining characteristic and a key value of a community foundation. By making grants to others, the community foundations empower local organizations and groups to address their own needs and problems by themselves. If you are a new community foundation and have not yet made any grants, please feel free to contact us for further information.

My organization has managed re-granting funds on behalf of an international donor. Can we apply for a grant?

We greatly value local grantmaking as a development tool: local grantmakers tend to be familiar with the local context and, by making small grants to community-based groups and organizations which are normally out of the sights of larger institutional donors, they allow funding to get much closer to the ground and to the people who best know how to address their needs. However, community philanthropy development is not only about grantmaking: it is also about tapping and accumulating local resources to address social and economic needs and to support community development. Enquiries from this type of organization will be treated on a case-by-case basis, but any application should demonstrate that some thought has been given to local resource mobilization for grantmaking.

My organization does not call itself a community foundation, but we are a local grantmaker and community philanthropy organization and have raised funds from a variety of local sources. Can we apply for a grant?

We recognize that communities need not always be geographically defined and that, for example, women’s funds and environment funds – which are more interest-based – not only represent a form of ‘community’ but frequently also operate in the same ways as community foundation (developing a long-term asset base, building community philanthropy, making grants, etc). Applications from such institutions are welcome and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In regions where the formal philanthropic sector as a whole is undeveloped, and where there may be only one or two community foundations, we would regard networking among and building linkages between different types of local grantmaking foundation – particularly in the areas of skills development and the overall strengthening of the sector – to be of strategic value.

Bongi Mkhabela, Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund and East Africa Association of Grantmaker's Lucy Githaiga
Distributing saplings in Shiwa Yacu
Morogoro Municipal Community Foundation, Tanzania