Building long-term trust among people, building relationships and solidarity between different social groups, and exemplifying cooperation for common goals are all essential to the long-term development of local communities. Everyone needs to experience a sense of community, a sense of belonging together - that we are active decision-makers and executives of our common life, and responsible owners of the money, knowledge, and skills at our disposal. We have to see how our work contributes to changes in local conditions, what national processes it induces and what international trends it fits into; it is important to imagine what kind of future our actions will bring for our children.
The community foundation is an excellent and proven tool to achieve these goals. Community foundations are non-governmental organisations established for long-term operation by members of a given community. Their work is based on trust, knowledge of the community, the development of a local donation culture (philanthropy), the strengthening of local identity and the promotion of the idea of active citizenship. Their core activities include fundraising, grant giving and community building.
THIS IS HOW WE WORK
The Community Foundation Support Programme was launched in 2013 to promulgate and spread community foundations in Hungary. As a first step, we described how we imagine an ideal community foundation in today’s Hungary; then we entered into professional cooperation with the Ferencváros Community Foundation, which was already successfully operating at that time.
At that point, we were ready to encourage local groups who dreamt of creating a community foundation through providing tailored professional support and unique funding opportunities. This is when personal consultations, study trips abroad and experience exchanges became basic elements of our work, just as general purpose grants and “challenge” donations. With these tools we helped create the Pécs Community Foundation and the Térerő Community Foundation for Our City in Miskolc, whose development and work we consider to be exemplary - and thus we continuously support them.
The local work of community foundations becomes complete when we find the national actors who - with their money, knowledge, determination, and companions - can support us in growing locally initiated changes into national ones. Our domestic supporters are willing and dare to invest in social change in the long run, because they consider it important to build institutions that can become the engines of a community’s development for generations. As for us, we give them the experience of donating, and a sense of belonging to a creative community.
One of the main tasks in our work is to create a diverse activist/intellectual community working for community foundations. To do this, we provide customized and motivating financial, professional and human support, strengthen people-to-people contacts, and provide concrete opportunities for joint work.
Community foundations are characterized by a strong tradition of close international cooperation. Many foreign organisations and international programmes support the local work of community foundations. From the very beginning, the Community Foundation Support Programme has put considerable effort into bringing Hungarian community foundations into the international circulation: we take part in conferences and professional events, organise study tours, and invite foreign experts. An important element of our international work is the involvement of actors who support Hungarian community foundations on a high professional level.