ECFI's impact in Phase 1 (2016/2017)
The evaluation of ECFI's work highlights the value and effectiveness of light touch but dynamic infrastructure support. ECFI’s aim is to strengthen and promote the community foundation movement in Europe through facilitating peer learning and building of relationships. It is recognised that the impact of relationship building may not be felt for some time but the connections made in the first two years (shown on the map) have already produced outcomes in all four areas defined in the 4Cs Framework (Capacity, Capability, Connections, and Credibility).
A number of community foundations reported that they have increased financial resources, they applied learnings from study visits and exchanges in their work, for example in new approaches to fundraising, community engagement, innovative projects, communications and use of social media. They also developed connections within and beyond the community foundation field locally and internationally, and enhanced their credibility as community leaders and strategic partners as a result of the participation in ECFI activities.
Both of these groups have provided new spaces for community foundation practitioners (staff, board members, volunteers) and related experts to share and exchange knowledge, skills and passions, in order to improve their practice.
Specific impacts which resulted from the work of ECFI are shown using the example of community foundation practitioners in Hungary and Germany. The community foundation support organization in Germany, the network Deutsche Bürgerstiftungen and the Hungarian CF Support Program “KözösALAPON”, Roots & Wings Association (R&W) met at a Study Visit and developed a highly effective relationship. A CF2CF exchange was arranged and there has been on-going collaboration between the two CF support organizations.
Despite the differing legal structures, age and number of organisations, community foundations and their support programs in both countries share similar goals, and there was value in exchanging experience in relation to the strengthening of the very young institutions, the spreading of the idea of community foundations as means of local civic commitment and societal cohesion, and in the management of regional clusters.
The impact to date has been to inspire an emerging community foundation movement, to offer fresh critical reflection on a more established one, and to build trust between two national support organizations. Specifically in respect of the 4Cs the difference made through participation in ECFI has been:
- Capacity - Direct individual fundraising and successful applications for funding for the further development of the foundation movement in Hungary and for enhancing its role in civil society and in Germany for a "Welcome Partners" program with refugees by the Wiesbaden Stiftung.
- Capability - Building know-how of staff and board members of the respective community foundation support organizations. A member of staff of the German network has joined the board of R&W.
- Connections - The relationship between the German network and R&W is continuing to develop laying a solid platform for connections between community foundations of both countries.
- Credibility - Enhanced credibility of the respective support organizations achieved through developing international relations and broader perspectives and in particular the contribution to the building of confidence in the community foundation movement in Hungary as community foundations are becoming recognised as important independent players for civic engagement.
Tamás Scsaurszki, Roots and Wings Foundation, said ‘The assistance from ECFI has enabled us to develop German-Hungarian cooperation to address issues that concern both countries, such as increasing civic participation and improving the quality of democracy through the work of community foundations’.