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Building a global community philanthropy database: hundreds of spreadsheets and lots of help from our friends

By Inga Ingulfsen
December 16, 2020

Text stating, Welcome to the Community Philanthropy Directory, beside a globe with a magnifying glass near the top

How can we call attention to organizations working to shift power to local communities? How can we provide up-to-date information on who’s doing what, where, in community philanthropy? How can we facilitate learning from and among community philanthropy organizations? Those were some of the questions a group of funders, researchers, and community philanthropy practitioners discussed in New York in early 2018. Today, almost three years later—after meticulous review of hundreds of spreadsheets and lots of help from colleagues from all over the world—Candid has launched the Community Philanthropy Directory, a free global database of community philanthropy organizations.

It is more important than ever to highlight work that focuses on shifting power to local communities. The global spread of COVID-19 has made the deep structural problems, inefficiencies, and inequalities of the philanthropic sector impossible to ignore and spurred renewed calls for shifting decision-making power to communities most affected by the pandemic. Many funders have committed to Council on Foundations’ Call to Action to provide more flexible funding, support structural changes, and to listen to and trust the expertise of those working directly with impacted communities.

Community philanthropy in its essence focuses on shifting power to communities by emphasizing local resources and capabilities. Community philanthropy organizations are uniquely positioned to respond to disasters and to mobilize and redistribute local resources to those who need them most. In the UK, community foundations have played a leading role in the national response to COVID-19, mobilizing and distributing funds and activating volunteers at the community level. Beyond organizing donations of medical supplies and in-kind gifts to families living in poverty, Chinese community foundations also recruited volunteers for frontline efforts, organized mental health assistance for those struggling with the effects of strict lockdown measures, and partnered with community activists on local governance plans. In Romania, 17 community foundations joined together to secure unprecedented amounts in local donations for coronavirus relief efforts. Community foundations in Mexico have been at the front lines of the response to the pandemic. Armed with experience from the 2017 earthquakes, they have focused on programs that promote community resilience, coordinating their fundraising through Comunalia, the Mexican network of community foundations. More than 600 U.S. community foundations have launched dedicated COVID-19 relief funds.

We hope the Community Philanthropy Directory will raise the visibility of community philanthropy organizations and facilitate new relationships among community philanthropy practitioners looking to connect with and learn from their peers around the world. The directory lists more than 2,000 community philanthropy organizations. You will find basic information about organizations’ funding interests, missions, and focus areas as well as website links and contact information to learn more. You can search for organizations by region, subjects and populations supported, Sustainable Development Goals supported, and/or organization name. The information available on the directory was collected and verified through a two-year long process that involved hundreds of spreadsheets and lots of help from our friends in different corners of the world. We reviewed information from more than 40 sources spanning more than 90 countries and got expert advice and direct data submissions from more than 30 community philanthropy practitioners and researchers. Without the expertise of our colleagues, the directory would not exist.

Now that the directory is live, we need your feedback and help to keep it up to date. The global community philanthropy movement is constantly evolving and expanding, and we want to the directory to evolve and expand with it.  If your organization is listed in the directory, you can update your information using Candid’s Foundation Updater. Updating will ensure your organization’s work is accurately reflected in the directory as well as in other Candid products. If you know of organizations we’ve missed, notice inaccurate information, have feedback to share, or if you have any questions about the directory, please reach out to us at [email protected].

Tags: Community philanthropy; Community foundations