Giving Compass’ Take:
• Grantcraft explains how donors can help community philanthropy shift power into the hands of the people. Through selfless and strategic philanthropy, donors can make a big impact on communities.
• How do your own goals fit into this framework? Who is doing good work in this space already?
• Read about the importance of youth voices in community philanthropy.
Today, communities around the world are increasingly finding themselves under new and alarming pressures, making the question of how to build local resilience more and more pressing. Indeed, it is at the community level where some of the most urgent global challenges— climate change, inequality, and migration—are being felt most strongly. Add into the mix protracted economic crises, a resurgence of populist politics, intolerance of minority and marginalized groups, and a weakening of the social ties that have bound people together in the past, and we have a problem.
It is in this context that community philanthropy—as a form of, and force for, locally driven development that strengthens community capacity and voice, builds trust, and, most importantly, taps into and builds on local resources—takes on a particular relevance.
Here are some general pointers that can help you move in a community philanthropy direction, which we unpack within:
- Use power responsibly.
- Consider to what extent assets, capacities, and trust are being built (or not) in the spaces and places you fund.
- Don’t be the lone ranger; consider the long view and your contribution to the larger ecosystem.
- Rethink what capacity gets strengthened.
- Value local asset mobilization.
- Use funding to help create new spaces and platforms for collective action.
- Consider introducing different kinds of metrics.
Unlocking the agency of local people, their organizations, and their assets is not only the right thing to do—because they should always be the ones in the driver’s seat—but it is the effective thing to do too. Whether you are a donor working on climate change, poverty, women’s rights, or inequality, studies have shown that a strong local ecosystem for community philanthropy (in which local assets are mobilized and strong and diverse community actors are engaged, with high levels of trust and social capital) will strengthen both outcomes and ownership across the board.