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Community Philanthropy in Central and Eastern Europe – A New Introduction

By Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D

This handsome primer is for people interested in learning about the role that community philanthropy organizations can play in strengthening communities in Central/Eastern Europe. 

It describes 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 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 area of practice:

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.

Effective Philanthropy: Read how grantmakers are stepping up to stimulate the growth of community philanthropy and nonprofit management in the region. 

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.

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.


How to cite this cover article: Mayer, Steven E., Community Philanthropy in Central and Eastern Europe – A New Introduction. Minneapolis: Effective Communities Project. Downloaded from ( [downloaded: month, date, year].

The original report, created with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, 27 pages, can be cited this way: Mayer, Steven E., Community Philanthropy in Central and Eastern Europe. Minneapolis: Effective Communities Project, 2008.