bring a youthful dynamic
It is no surprise that Romania features strongly in the CF2CF exchange programme this year. The field in Romania is characterised as being young and dynamic, bringing a spirit of entrepreneurship and is seen as the flagship of the 21st century community foundation movement. It is comprised of smart people eager to learn and very willing to share their knowledge and experience. ‘We believe in best practices as the best way for our initiative groups to learn, get inspiration, and adapt to their own region and needs’ said Ruth Williams, CEO of the Austrian Association of Charitable Foundation, which is supporting the establishment of community foundations in Austria. ‘We expect to gain many helpful insights that will help us build the first community foundations in Austria and we hope to establish long lasting relationships between organisations in both countries’, she added.
Similarly, the Spanish Association of Foundations is looking to the Romanian Federation as a model which supports local fundraising and high levels of citizen engagement, in particular of developing the leadership role of young adults. Representatives from the Romanian Federation will contribute to the Spanish conference for community foundations and participate in crowd funding events.
A multi-lateral exchange is to be implemented involving community foundations from Slovakia, Czechia, Hungary, Austria and Poland. Along with sharing knowledge an aim is to identify potential joint projects, in particular those addressing issues ‘out of the spotlight’ e.g. in neglected rural areas, in marginalised communities, and in relation to under-valued work of community foundations.
Porta Palazzo in Italy is leading an exchange with Timișoara Community Foundation, from Romania. They will explore and build on respective experiences of supporting civic activism, advocacy and the use of civic space. ‘We are interested in the advocacy, lobbying strategy and network building that the Porta Palazzo Community Foundation is doing locally when implementing their programmes, in order to receive support, expertise and approval from the local administration, other stakeholders and experts on different domains’ said Oana Petrescu, Program coordinator, Timișoara Community Foundation.
Sibiu Community Foundation, also from Romania, and Assifero, the Italian association of foundations share a particular interest in the involvement of young people, not only in the community foundation field but more widely in civil society organisations and in public bodies. ‘In Sibiu we noticed two significant trends, with the first being the tendency of the older generations to take a step back from active roles within the community due to burnout amongst other reasons and their intention to move towards bringing a different kind of contribution, such as mentoring. Secondly, the younger counterparts are struggling to find their voice and step up to bring change. We aim to bridge this gap by facilitating the intergenerational transfer of knowledge and creating a healthy context for dialogue and opportunities on both sides’ said Ana Maria Bugneriu, Sibiu Community Foundation. This exchange will provide valuable insights and learning for the entire community foundations field.
All exchanges will lead to the production of a report which will be shared on the ECFI website along with a synthesis report on key learnings from them and the Study Visit to Serbia.
Peer to peer exchanges between community foundations and support organisations exchanges provide the necessary framework and space for a fruitful mixture of communication, learning end experiences. They are, so to speak, a real-life social laboratory, and like all good labs, they are experimental and hope to bring fruitful results. These cannot always be precisely defined and classified, but on the whole they help participants and their organisations to learn, grow and become stronger in their communities and together better address key challenges of our times in Europe, and throughout the world.
CF2CF exchanges are designed to improve participants’ understanding of other European communities and the work of community foundations by visiting these regions, entering into a fruitful dialogue, learning from each others’ experience and building long-term professional relations and friendships. CF2CF exchanges have the following characteristics:
Number of participants: Groups of approx. 3-5 people are normally invovled in an exchange OR for 'joint work' numbers can vary according to learning objectives.
Eligible applicants: Both the applicant and the partner can be located in any European country, applying organization may be only an organization located in a member country in a broader sense of Europe as a shared cultural and geographical space.
Reciprocal approach: As is typical for an exchange, the learning results are mutual. When possible, we encourage therefore reciprocal visits where the first visit from country A to country B will be followed by a return visit from country B to country A.
Repeated visits: A CF2CF Exchange is not limited to one time per year and can be repeated within the same exchange agreement.
Emphasis on practice: Participants are community foundation or community foundation support organization practitioners – staff, board members, founders or volunteers.
Personal initiative: Participating CFs or CFSOs have to decide on a suitable partner themselves. ECFI team can help in identifying possible partners using its networks and contacts.
Reporting: Program and financial report are required two months after the completion of the final exchange. Please check some example reports posted as a source of inspiration and quality standard. Commitment to communicate on the exchange using variety of media (video, photo, blogs) and channels is strongly encouraged.
The CF2CF exchange on the average lasts 3–5 days, but is not limited to this. We encourage applicants to be creative and make their own suggestions. Likewise, co-funding suggestions are welcome, since the programme can offer a maximum contribution of EUR 4,000 per application.
Cultural differences need to be considered. There also has to be a common language (not necessarily English) that everyone involved knows sufficiently well. Participants are encouraged to communicate about their activities via video blogs, pictures, Twitter or other social media.
How to participate
CF2CF is open to practitioners from the existing community foundations, promising initiatives and interested groups from countries that do not have this form of community philanthropy but work towards establishing it and also community foundation support organizations. They can be executive directors, staff members, volunteers, founders, or Board members.
Both the applicant organisation and the partner should be located in a European country in a broader sense of Europe as a shared cultural and geographical space.
The call for applications for 2023 is closed. The next call for proposals will be announced at the beginning of 2024.
Planned activities must be completed by the end of November in the year of activity.
Applications will be assessed on the following criteria:
- coherence of the application, quality of reasoning
- potential contribution to long-term relationship building
- relevance of proposed agenda for the goals of CF2CF and the current situation
- quality of the proposed sequence of activities
CFs in Europe are a heterogeneous group of philanthropic organizations, although with many common features and characteristics. Diversity in their context, form and function is not only a challenge both practically and intellectually, but also represents potential for learning and advancement for the field. By understanding how others react in a certain situation, we can extend our range of options for similar challenges in our own environment.
At ECFI we are interested in supporting well-thought and good quality exchange program that enhances mutual learning on how community foundations can better address key challenges of our times in their particular contexts.
The CF2CF exchanges are offered to CFs and CFSOs in Europe as a part of the European Community Foundation Initiative (ECFI). The funding has been generously provided by the C.S. Mott Foundation.