‘Are you going to look at community philanthropy organizations and not just community foundations?’ is a question I have been asked on several occasions while working on this issue of Alliance. ‘That’s certainly my intention’ has been my answer. But as the different contributions came in, I began to wonder how much sense the question still makes. Debate about the defining characteristics of community foundations (CFs) is certainly still going on but in practice people often sidestep the debate, saying that what they are developing is indeed a CF but in their country it doesn’t make sense, for example, for CFs to try to develop endowments.
In fact this issue of Alliance does focus largely on CFs – in all the varied forms in which they are currently emerging the world over. Luis Amorim and Monika Mazurczak explain that their overview article will concentrate on CFs ‘because it is the model of community philanthropy that has registered the fastest increase in the past two decades and has thus become the dominant model around the world’. Their explanation serves well for the issue as a whole. Joan Martin-Brown, reporting that the World Bank is about to appoint a high-level CF expert, refers to CFs as ‘the missing link in community-driven development’.