Where next for a global fund?

Jenny Hodgson

The Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), established in 2006 at the joint initiative of the World Bank, Ford Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to broaden community foundation development globally, is beginning to map its future as an independent entity. A project of WINGS and hosted by the European Foundation Centre in Brussels, GFCF’s initial funding was structured over a three-year pilot period.

As a first step in the process of becoming independent, a study has been commissioned to explore some of the key questions that will need to be addressed if the Fund is to realize its goal of becoming a valuable and sustainable resource for the community philanthropy sector globally. These include:

Questions of identity and legitimacy
The diverse institutional actors involved in the pilot phase brought different perspectives to the GFCF. Is the aim to demonstrate the potential of community foundations in sustaining the community driven development initiatives of the World Bank at the local level, or to promote the community foundation concept as widely as possible, or to support a broad range of local community philanthropy initiatives as mechanisms for solving local problems? Ambiguities between these perspectives must be resolved and a strong sense of shared ownership developed among key constituencies.

Questions of focus
As a result of the original GFCF’s very clear focus on community foundations, the distribution of GFCF’s grants has been unintentionally ‘slanted’ towards Eastern Europe and Russia, where there is an established community foundation sector. Should the GFCF broaden its mission to reflect a more nuanced understanding of community philanthropy and what would be the implications of taking this approach?

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