Your experience with the CFs and your professional relevance to the theme of CFs:
Over the last few years the TSDP has been supporting the development of CFs in South Africa. CFs are viewed as possible conduits for strategically moving funds down to grassroots levels. This not only helps to facilitate local development but also leverage local assets in the growing context of community-led development. South Africa is now classified as an upper middle income country and there is significant reduction in foundation and other funding to organisations of civil society (CSOs). CSOs need to look within for their funding support and are compelled to explore more local funding by the communities they serve. We have been integral to the technical development of CFs and community grant makers and efforts are now focused on building the field of philanthropy by engaging corporate and community giving, giving by the state and private giving.
Key characteristics and information about the CFs and community philanthropy in your country:
Ten years ago 10 CFs were established along the lines of the USA CF model (supported by Mott, Kellogg and Ford), of which only one survives today and remains fully operational. CFs today generate their income through fundraising and not endowments (this is not a norm in SA), they work across communities, have their own development agendas and actively monitor and support their grantee work in relation to demand / need in their beneficiary communities. A coherent sector of CFs and community grant makers does not yet exist. While organic philanthropy (local giving) is embedded in African culture and tradition, giving is largely confined to extended family, faith-based structures and charities. Very few individuals give to agencies such as NGOs, CBOs and other due to trust issues and lack of transparency.
Area of your particular interest in the CF development/ CF management/ practice (please specify if this is a theme where you are interested to learn more, bring your own expertise or both)
The key challenge for the TSDP is to help build a business case for CFs / community grant makers as conduits and platforms for more effective local development in the country. Corporates and government in SA are interested in the potential of CFs but are not convinced that they offer a better value proposition than traditional NGOs, notwithstanding the frustrations that accompany working with NGOs. The TSDP is constructing a support and development program for CFs / community grant-makers and a key area of learning will be what constitutes a viable CF development program. Essential questions include: how do we grow CFs? What are the evolving / current configurations especially in the context of emerging economies and is there any documentation to this effect?