Community Philanthropy in Central and Eastern Europe

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This primer has been written for people who are interested in learning about community philanthropy organizations and the role they can play in strengthening communities in Central/Eastern Europe.  The text explains what community philanthropy organizations do and how they work. It describes the challenges faced by local communities in building such organizations in Central/Eastern Europe, and it describes ways that support organizations are offering assistance to address these challenges.

All these points are illustrated with local examples, all from the portfolio of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.  These examples have implications for improved practice in each of these arenas:

Effective Philanthropy: See how grantmakers in the region, and outside as well, are stepping up to stimulate the growth of community philanthropy.  There are several roles they can play:

Nonprofit Management: “Community philanthropy organizations” and “community philanthropy support organizations” are being created to engage communities, raise philanthropic capital, and to provide information, training, consultancy and technical assistance.

Community Development: In 1999, when this primer was written, Central/Eastern Europe was experiencing rapid change.  With the demise of central government and managed economies, civic leaders in the region emerged to fill the void with an “independent sector” to support the active exchange of ideas, a more local and more shared approach to problem-solving, and to support a process that empowers people to participate in the affairs of the community.  The emergence of community philanthropy, with support from larger institutional forces friendly to democratic and pluralistic governance, has been one of the major results.

Program Evaluation: The evaluation of “development” is an evolving field, led largely by international funders, and not enough by locals.  This primer presents examples of how different community philanthropies in the region approach their work.  An interesting evaluation agenda could be created to focus on how the community’s well-being is actually being served.

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Tags: Community philanthropy, Central and Eastern Europe, C.S. Mott Foundation, Philanthropy support organization

Originally appeared: This is one in a series  of booklets about practical guidelines for meeting local challenges published by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, when it had an office in Prague, for communities in Central and Eastern Europe.

Number of pages: 15    Original date: November 1999

Author: Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D.

Effective Communities Project

Minneapolis, MN