Earlier this year the Global Fund for Community Foundations and the Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy announced a landmark event in the field of Philanthropy – the Global Summit on Community Philanthropy, to be held on 1 – 2 December 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Summit marks an important moment in the field of philanthropy – a shift of focus from the elite to the communities. It also celebrates the coming of age of the field of ‘community philanthopy’ which has grown significantly in the last decade or so, particularly with the proliferation of community foundations in the Global South. The term ‘Community Philanthropy’ has expanded today to embrace a much more diverse understanding of both ‘community’ and ‘philanthropy’. It includes the typical community foundataion but also grassroots grantmakers (mainly social justice funds and peace funds), women’s funds, environmental funds etc. They have in common that they build on the strengths and assets of the communities they seek to serve. In stark opposition to some of the top-down and/or service-delivery models that have dominated the philanthropy field so far, these foundations represent the agency and voice of the people.
Because of their roots in the community, these foundations offer an alternative approach to some of the most gruelling problems the world is facing today – a patient bottom up approach – built through community led innovation and support for civil society activism leading to perpmanent solutions rather than putting a band-aid over problems such as entrenched communal conflicts and persistent and reinforcing social injustices.
The Summit is therefore a timely event to strengthen this field. Most importantly it will be the focal point of many new ideas coming from a young field that is experimenting and learning and many lessons to be embibed by any funder that seeks to increase the imapct of their work on the current problems of the world – be it climate change, escalating conflicts, persitent poverty, disillusionment with the political leadership, increasing xenophobia and theats to gender equality and human rights everywhere.
To know more and participate in this landmaker event, check out the Summit website. There is also and an open call for session proposals where you can share your ideas around content. If you have evidence to share or unearth about the effectiveness of community philanthropy, check out this call for Expression of Interest on research papers of different kinds that highlight practice, show evidence of impact etc.
We’ll be sharing news of the Summit on a regular basis – watch this space for more.
I hope you are excited and hope to see you in Johannesburg!