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Blog: More than the Poor Cousin


Power is shifting to communities and INGOs need to be part of it

Our world is changing from the ground up. Whether a community-owned pub in the UK, participatory budget-making in Spain, a community endowment fund in Zimbabwe, or a post-earthquake bare-foot volunteer programme in Nepal, local communities are finding new ways of deciding things and doing things for themselves. And they are organizing themselves and the resources they have to do so. 

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A lesson in vision and patience: The well-kept secret of Russian community foundations 

I had never heard of community foundations until I worked in Russia. It was May 1998, and I was starting a new job in Moscow as the co-director of CAF Russia, the independently-minded branch of the UK charity, the Charities Aid Foundation. I was sitting across the table from Olga Alexeeva, my fellow co-director, and she drew a picture of a three-legged stool on a paper between us. The community foundation was the stool, she explained, its legs representing the state, the private sector and civil society respectively. All quite simple and obvious perhaps, but at the time not even a decade had passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union and this was cutting-edge thinking.

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