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Community philanthropy and large-scale assets: How shifting the power builds resilience in times of crisis 

Mass forced migration, climate disruption, violent conflicts, and growing global economic inequality are some of the enormous and interlinked forces we face today, causing suffering for millions of people and fraying our societal bonds. At the same time, public faith in institutions is at historic
lows, and governments in many parts of the world are exerting authoritarian control and stifling dissent. Thoughtful, democratic stewardship of natural resources, recognition of communities’ right to self‐determination, and a commitment to a vibrant future for everyone are more important than ever to counterbalance these destructive trends. 

On a small scale, community philanthropy speaks powerfully to all of these critical needs and offers practical strategies for increasing peace, well‐being, and accountability. But what is the potential for community philanthropy to deliver these at greater scale? The GFCF conducted research on how and whether community philanthropy can be a tool for communities to negotiate with powerful stakeholders, strengthen leadership and consensus‐building, and realize development projects that reflect their long‐term vision for sustainability by harnessing large‐scale assets. Our findings suggest not only that community philanthropy organizations can ‘scale up’ to manage much larger assets but that their structure and purpose allow them to have a transformative effect. Prioritizing relationships from the early stages and fostering a culture of on‐going iteration are key to realizing this potential.  

Author: Mary Fifield

Published by: GFCF

Published: October 2018

Download: ‘Community philanthropy and large-scale assets’


Time to #ShiftThePower? Community philanthropy and durable development 

How likely is it that a given organization will facilitate sustainable change? Untold millions of dollars are spent, and untold effort expended, in coordinated attempts to make life better for individuals and communities across the world. Iterative processes of review and reform, global initiatives and flavours of the month in philanthropic giving and development aid all testify that few organizations can claim that their efforts have resulted in truly durable development. The Holy Grail is still out there. This paper considers community philanthropy organizations: a varied range of civil society organizations whose recognition as a category is embryonic, yet which, it shall be argued, are structurally geared to support lasting change in the local communities they serve. This paper examines why this might be.

Authors: Hilary Gilbert, with summary version prepared by Caroline Hartnell

Published by: GFCF

Published: September 2018

Download: ‘Time to #ShiftThePower’ the full version or ‘Time to #ShiftThePower’ the summary version.


Unlocking Philanthropy’s Potential: What Funders Can Do to Build Strong Philanthropy Support Ecosystems

This guide is for funders who wish to understand how they can contribute to unlocking philanthropy’s potential to build more resilient, sustainable and democratic societies. This is what the philanthropy support ecosystem, also called philanthropy infrastructure, is all about. It is about developing and harnessing private resources for social good, building civil society and democracy, and helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is central to the mission of all visionary funders who want to increase the impact and sustainability of their work, and #LiftUpPhilanthropy. 

Author: Benjamin Bellegy

Published by: Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS)

Published: June 2018

Download: ‘Unlocking Philanthropy’s Potential’


Philanthropy in Brazil

This report on Brazilian philanthropy is part of a larger study by Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace (PSJP), started in 2016, to review the current state of philanthropy in emerging economies and the role philanthropy is playing in the world today. This is the fourth report from the study: the earlier three reports in the series are on Indian philanthropy, Russian philanthropy and Philanthropy in the Arab Region.

Like the other reports, this is not a full-scale statistical survey of Brazilian philanthropy. Instead, it aims to throw light on current developments in, obstacles to, and possibilities for philanthropy in Brazil, especially highlighting innovations and new initiatives. This has been done partly through looking at existing research, but mainly through a series of conversations with people who have been trying to promote, support or strengthen different areas of philanthropy in the country.

The areas covered include various forms of giving by the wealthy, including corporate philanthropy, family foundations and impact investing, social justice philanthropy, community philanthropy, and giving by ordinary individuals. The report also looks at the political situation in Brazil, which is the background against which all developments in philanthropy are unfolding, and how this situation is affecting the different parts of the philanthropic sector.

Authors: Caroline Hartnell & Andrew Milner

Published by: Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace 

Published: May 2018

Download ‘Philanthropy in Brazil’ (full report). The summary report is also available in Portuguese and English.


A Guide to Community Foundations in Italy 

The community philanthropy movement is growing rapidly all over the world. In Italy, the establishment of community foundations began in 1999, and there are now 37 registered Italian community foundations. Different in terms of origin, size, vision, methodology and operations, and deeply rooted in the fabric of a given community, Italian community foundations represent different forms of community philanthropy. But they are always platforms that provide a bridge between local institutions and third-sector organizations in order to deal, at the local level, with the complex, social, economic and cultural challenges that characterize today’s world. This guide examines the history of the movement in Italy, the legal and fiscal context in which they operate, facts and figures on the field, as well as stories from individual organizations.

Authors: Assifero & European Community Foundation Initiative

Published by: Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen e.V.

Published: April 2018

Download: A Guide to Community Foundations in Italy


How Community Philanthropy Shifts Power: What Donors Can Do to Make That Happen

While slogans like “think globally, act locally” have been around for decades, so much decision making about philanthropy and development aid still happens by stakeholders outside of affected communities. This GrantCraft Leadership Series paper focuses on how funders around the globe are challenging this norm by sharing and shifting power into the hands of local leadership. It explores examples, advice, and the driving questions for donors interested in producing people-owned changes, without losing sight of their institutional interests. Donors interested in producing lasting results that are people-owned and led will find this particularly valuable.

Authors: Jenny Hodgson & Anna Pond

Published by: Foundation Center

Published: April 2018

Download: 'How Community Philanthropy Shifts Power: What Donors Can Do to Make That Happen'