Through this program, RAF supports three community foundations – Iași, Timișoara, and Vâlcea – to test various ways of supporting the emergence of community-based philanthropy models into areas where philanthropy and civic engagement are yet undeveloped. The three foundations will pilot different grassroots philanthropic mechanisms and empower local groups to build local ownership for community initiatives. Asociația pentru Practica Transformării will provide ongoing guidance, facilitate a community of practice and knowledge sharing, and document the process, to inform future endeavors of a similar nature.

 

 

CONTEXT

 

Despite the overall development of civil society and philanthropy in Romania, the disparity among regions is still high. Recent studies on philanthropy in Romania point that the central part of Romania registers the highest rates of philanthropic support from companies and individuals, while the lowest levels of philanthropic behavior among citizens are in the Southern and Western regions.

 

Community foundations have proven successful in activating the civic potential of communities, even when latent or expressed very narrowly. They have a wide experience in working with local communities, by organizing philanthropic events (e.g., sports fundraising events, or donor circles), fundraising from local donors (crowdfunding or sponsorship), developing grant-making funds (e.g., the Științescu program), sharing their experience with, and empowering community leaders, or providing support to local groups and organizations.

 

The experiences of community foundations confirm that favorable contexts can stimulate lasting philanthropy and civic engagement.

 

 

STRATEGY

 

The current program continues RAF’s strategy to unlock communities’ potential with the help of community foundations.

 

This new program is a three-year pilot intervention of three experienced community foundations (Iași, Vâlcea, and Timișoara) that will work in eight neighboring counties from their regions of residence.

 

The program aims to assist communities from the neighboring counties of the three partner community foundations to advance, in terms of developing philanthropy and civic engagement, on at least one of the following directions:

  • civic engagement (translated into initiatives developed by communities to solve local problems);
  • philanthropy (translated into resources mobilized by the communities);
  • local ownership (translated into the aggregation of local groups and leaders taking the responsibility for community engagement in the long run).

 

The three partner community foundations will use a variety of methods, instruments, and mechanisms to advance the aim of the program:

  • Providing practical counseling, training, study visits, and/or mentoring to assist and empower local groups to build local ownership, enabling them to take initiative to the benefit of their community, (co-)organize philanthropic activities to (co-)fundraise from local/regional donors, and/or (co-)develop grant making funds;
  • Taking (initial) leadership in creating regional thematic funds or sports events by local and regional fundraising, and using grant-making to reach new initiatives and local groups; the fundraising and grant-making may be initially carried by the community foundations only, as the institutional vehicle, while on the long run attempting to gradually delegate, partially or totally, the ownership to local groups;
  • Assuming a regional role covering also neighboring counties, thus providing long-term assistance and maintaining an active leading role in the region, until local groups may be ready to take over, or may become hosts of local funds (co-) developed with the community foundation in the long run.
  • Providing re-granting funds to match the funds raised locally by the community groups supported to develop throughout the program.

 

Asociația pentru Practica Transformării will accompany, assist and mentor the three community foundations throughout the entire process, drawing on its substantive expertise in assisting community foundations and their support organizations both in Romania and abroad. It will:

  • facilitate a community of peer practice, knowledge sharing and learning along the program;
  • document all interventions and draw lessons learned based on the registered results, reflecting the grassroot experience on what works, and in what contexts;
  • provide one on one consulting to each community foundation, upon request;
  • disseminate the findings within the wider network of community foundations in Romania, as well as to other stakeholders interested in community mobilization – both nationally, and abroad.

 

 

EXPECTED OUTCOMES

 

At least 60 communities will be directly exposed to at least one new local experience of philanthropy and/or civic participation to community life, and at least 22 of these communities will mobilize resources (money, in kind, volunteers) from citizens and companies.

 

The network of community foundations in Romania, other practitioners, and stakeholders, who are interested in developing philanthropy and civic engagement in settings with low previous exposure to these areas, will better understand what works to stimulate them in communities with different levels of development, the steps to be taken and the processes that are in order, as well as the effects experienced by communities.