There is a strong and growing consensus that the philanthropy and aid sectors should be focusing more on sharing and shifting power to communities while also prioritizing equity, accountability, and sustainability. But the question is how?

Currently, development programs and funds are largely in the hands of major (mostly Western) agencies, creating barriers to funding local and marginalized community organizations, perpetuating inequity, and reinforcing the power of institutional donors over the recipients of aid. Community-led initiatives put communities at the heart of efforts to support their resilience. At its core, community led-ness is about enabling communities to solve problems that are important to them.

With this context in mind, the Center for Disaster Preparedness Philippines (CDP) co-designed and led the Abot-Kamay Community Solidarity Fund, with strategic support from a consortium of global partners, including GlobalGiving. As part of the USAID-funded Assets, Agency & Trust initiative, this model demonstrates a locally led, innovative partnership aiming to reach marginalized communities often overlooked or unable to access funding. It highlights community assets and ownership akin to Community Philanthropy and was fully managed and implemented by CDP.

Through CDP’s Abot-Kamay Community Solidarity Fund, we’ve seen how equitable partnerships can be transformative and shift power back to communities and local actors by recognizing and building on local assets, respecting the agency of individuals and communities, and fostering mutual trust.

Communities have incredible assets and resources that should not only be recognized but highly valued—equal to how we value external financial resources. In the context of the Philippines, the Indigenous cultural practice of “bayanihan,” or taking part in community work and action, serves as the foundation of every community-based organization. The willingness to volunteer, contribute, and take part is what sustains and fuels most of these grassroots organizations toward their mission, despite the lack of financial resources. The knowledge and familiarity of the local context make community leaders advocates and experts trusted by their members.

Read the full article about valuing community assets by Catherine Gordo, Mic Mercado and Seema Kapoor at GlobalGiving.