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Views from the field

Growing Ambition in a Shrinking Space in Hungary

Tamás Scsaurszki, from the Roots and Wings Foundation in Budapest, reflects on the vital role that the growing community foundation movement in Hungary is playing - despite the 'hostile' environment.

'It may come as a surprise, but the ambitions of Hungarian community foundations are growing while the space for civic action is shrinking in Hungary; often times Hungary feels like ’the Syria’ of Europe, a kind of battleground for ideologies and political superpowers; there is a heavy price we pay for it, but still, it is not impossible to work on improving communities!'

Read the whole article here.

The Community Foundation movement in Ukraine - challenges and opportunities

Interview with Volodymyr Sheyhus, ISAR Ednannia

ECFI – Tell us a little about the development of the Community Foundation movement in Ukraine?

VS – The first community foundations in Ukraine were established in 1995.  Since then there has been steady development and there are now 33.  Implementation of decentralization reform in Ukraine leads to growing influence of local authorities and local self-governments, increased local budgets and the need of local authorities to engage people into the decision-making processes. Here, Community Foundations can step in as they already have necessary knowledge, skills and instruments to engage population, implement projects and administer grant-programs. Community Foundations can offer their assistance, mechanisms and approaches to be used for running activities, community development and civic engagement. Community Foundations in Ukraine are actively using Donor Circles and Giving circles in their activities. Music Camp International is one more quite popular tool to engage community members into the life of their community with the help of music.

ECFI – What does ISAR do to support the development of the movement?

VS – Ednannia, that stands for "unity" – our philosophy and mission are really embodied in the title of our organization. We want to inspire innovation and invest in agents of change.  Our vision is for the community as a self-regulating system, co-created by all community members, where everyone has a right to express his/her opinion, offer solutions, and be creative.  We believe that we can make our life together better by creating new traditions of professionalism, benevolence and proactivity. Community foundations can coordinate processes of engagement and direct funds into areas that need most support.  We help this process through applying international learning; analysing trends in society; training, coaching and mentoring; promoting community foundations in Ukraine and abroad; helping establish pilot community foundations; and through the provision of financial support.

ECFI – What are the main challenges that you and community foundations face?

VS – Probably the biggest challenge remains the passiveness of people and institutions (e.g. local authorities).  It is difficult to find people willing to commit to playing a role in the Board – even in areas where Youth Bank has been successful there is the issue that often young people who have already been involved leave their local community for further education or employment.  In addition there are, as everywhere, challenges around financial stability and sustainability.  Some interesting connections with business are being developed to help ensure their charitable giving is systematic, efficient and effective – through community foundation administered corporate funds, offering a win-win for the local community and the corporation.  

Donor Clubs have engaged 350 individuals and raise approximately €17,000 each year
Lubica Lachka

Clubbing in Slovakia – a model to develop indigenous community philanthropy.

Community Foundations in Slovakia have had many opportunities to learn from overseas CFs on their models in cooperation with individual donors.  The visible impact of individual donors on community development was always admired and “envied” by Slovak observers. They understood that individual donors become the most “faithful and sustainable” supporters of own community.  But how to transfer this cooperation to countries in which people have nearly none or only bad experience with philanthropy?

The first inspiration came from the program “500 friends of Banská Bystrica” realized by CF Healthy City in 1995-97. Early after the Foundation’s start, it received a grant from C.S.Mott Foundation for 90,000 USD. The contribution for the first year was provided without any additional conditions, the second and the third part of the payment was fixed to the condition to raise matching amount from local sources. They were supposed to raise 15,000 USD annually that was in that time significant amount of money (aprox. 500,000 SK). Being a new in this field, with no personal experience and almost no tradition of giving in the community it seems like a huge unrealizable task. But then the Board came with a great idea to break this huge amount down into smaller gifts and to find “500 friends of Banská Bystrica” who would contribute by 1,000 Sk.  Later on we found out that even 1,000 Sk was a quite high amount for average person and we decrease the limit to 200 SK (which was the price of a good dinner). The Foundation’s goal was to create a mechanism that everybody could “afford” to donate and prove that also relatively small gift given to the Community Foundation has a sense and together with other gifts can help to change our community.

Based on Healthy City CF´s experience, Lubos Tvrdon, an active leader and co - founder of the Bratislava Community Foundation, proposed to disseminate this model within the whole members of Association in 2004. He suggested to establish a Club of Donors. Every CF motivated individuals from their own community to donate based on matching principles. Lubos engaged with two corporations - Orange and Slovak Saving Banks  - which committed to contribute to all Clubs, each of them donated  1 SKK  to each 1 SKK  fundraised from local resources. The concept started to develop quite quickly. In the first years 20 - 30 individual donors contributed to every Club.  Individual donors continuously started to be personally involved in the decision making process. CFs started to organize special events for individual donors to present community projects and to be involved in selection.  Meetings became a tradition and enabled to build personal contacts among individual donors and particular CF.  After 4 years of the program existence, the corporations decided to stop their matching activities. Local leaders of Slovak CFs stayed before a challenge how to continue the program without “strong” partnership with companies? The number of local individual donors contributing to the Club was not enough large to fundraise the resources required for grant making.     In 2013, the Nitra Community Foundation came with the idea to support Club of Donors with a PR campaign to make the Club of Donor more known and attractive within the local community. Three young well known people (a famous soccer player, a TV presenter and a singer) became faces of campaign and helped significantly to popularize the idea of the Club of Donors in the Nitra region. As a result the number of members in the Club of Donor at the Nitra Community Foundation rapidly increased, it jumped from 37 members in 2012 to 139 in 2013 and 227 in 2014. The Club of Donors is now realized by four CFs in Slovakia. Its main aim is to motivate individual donors to contribute to development of their own community based on transparent and long term principles. Local individual donors are directly involved in the grant making process, they decide what community projects are supported from their finances. Around 350 people per year donate in the region of €17,000 annually through the Club of Donors.


Ľubica Lachká

Nitra Community Foundation