Community foundations? In Hungary? Yes!
Thanks to a shift in attitude towards community foundations in Hungary, local groups are now embracing the concept and are starting to build community foundations. (1. July, 2015)
The Community Foundation Support Programme announced a call for proposals from local groups to establish community foundations in their communities in December 2014 after months of preparation. We selected seven groups to support with funding and capacity building, out of a total of 28 letters of intent. Both the quality and the quantity of responses exceeded our dreams – Hungary is thought of as the only country in Central/Eastern Europe that has missed out on the success story of community foundations. In the last two decades Hungary has seen neither a grassroots wave to establish community foundations, nor a more strategic nationwide effort to promote the concept, although NGO activists have been talking about community foundations for years. So why are local groups embracing the concept now?
Shift in attitude
The basic attitude to community foundations in Hungary had shifted significantly. Ten years ago people would say a ‘community foundation is probably a good idea, but it wouldn’t work in Hungary and definitely not in our community’ but by 2014 many said they were positive that it was a good and achievable idea in their community. The question was more about whether they personally could devote enough time and energy to the task now.
The change could probably be explained by the increased value associated with localism: people and SMEs are more eager to engage in improving the community where they live and operate, which is demonstrated by the growing practise of giving and the increasing popularity of volunteering. The success of Ferencváros Community Foundation, the first such foundation in the country, has also strengthened the feeling that developing community foundations was achievable in Hungary.