Community philanthropies are among the fastest growing forms of giving in the world. Community philanthropy mobilizes financial, social, political, and intellectual capital to improve residents’ lives over the long term. The idea of contributing resources to address local challenges and opportunities is something local people seeking a greater say over their destinies can get behind. On average, 70 community foundations are created every year, which adds up to 1,800 place-based foundations around the world granting more than $5 billion annually.
This growth is dramatic, but research and evaluation to inform and improve the field has not kept pace. In March, 2016, Dr. Jason Franklin, W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, and the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) launched a new joint effort aimed at connecting research and practice to advance the field of global community philanthropy.
This initiative included,
- Funding for collaborative research at the local, national, regional, and global levels.
- Convenings for researchers and community philanthropy leaders to share research results and identify opportunities for collaboration and field building.
- Curated publication opportunities for both academic and philanthropic audiences.
Franklin and GFCF put out a call for expression of interest inviting scholars, evaluators, and community philanthropy leaders around the world to propose ideas for collaborative research projects with potential funding of US $2,500 — $5,000 per project. Soon after the call was released, over 50 research proposals were received from around the globe — from Brazil to Spain to South Africa.
“I was delighted and surprised by the quality, diversity, and sheer number of proposals that we received,” Franklin said. “The response was a clear sign of the global interest in this growing field and the opportunity to strengthen the connection between research and practice for collective giving globally.”
After reviewing all applicants, Franklin and the team at GFCF selected 14 projects — each received the full $5,000 grant.
“This may not seem like a lot, but a $5,000 grant goes a lot farther in places like Africa than it does in places like the United States,” Franklin said.
Franklin has been traveling and speaking globally in support of community philanthropy since the joint initiative began. His first stop was Stockholm, Sweden for the International Society for Third-Sector Research conference, which brought together hundreds of participants from 61 countries. From there he traveled to Germany to meet with their community foundation network and the new European Community Philanthropy Initiative. His latest stop was Sydney, Australia, where he spoke at Philanthropy Australia’s National Conference and met with the rural funders network and the Australian Community Foundation Forum.
But Franklin says it doesn’t stop there. Upcoming travel includes speaking at the Global Community Philanthropy Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, as well as speaking at the session on collaborative funding for the Association of Charitable Foundations in London, UK.