The most fundamental characteristic of a CF – its geographic focus on a community – be it a city, region or county – can hamper community foundations from seeing themselves as members of a larger family. In countries with effective support infrastructure, the natural tendency to insularity is overcome by activities that nurture a common identity and empower the CFs to act with awareness of becoming a part of a larger national, or perhaps sub-regional, movement.
In the case of Central and Eastern Europe an important opportunity to extend these boundaries was offered by the Mott Foundation between 2010-2014 in the form of study visits to a succession of countries in the CEE region.
The concept of CF Study Trip consists of a combination of several elements:
- learners who are typically practitioners from the CF-related areas (CF directors, Board members, CF association and CF support organization professionals) or theorists and academics interested in issues of community philanthropy
- community foundations that hosts the group of learners in their communities typically for a day or two
- one week of intensive interaction, observation, and conversation among those mentioned above.
The overarching intention is to facilitate a spirit of mutuality that allows community foundations in Europe to know, learn from and assist one another, as a contribution to a stronger and more visible presence for community foundations in European philanthropy.
The impetus for starting this process was given by the Mott Foundation and the Association of Bulgarian CFs in 2010. The number and composition of participants proved the validity of the concept and visits organized so far. In the past five years, the Mott Foundation funded and facilitated these study trips – in cooperation with the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation and the Association of Bulgarian Community Foundations in 2010, together with the Czech Association of Community Foundations in 2011, with the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland and the Polish Federation of Community Foundations in 2012, with the Association for Community Relations and the Romanian Federation of Community Foundations in 2013, and with the Center for Philanthropy in Bratislava and the Slovak Association of Community Foundations in 2014.
The resources in this section are organized on a country basis. Besides information on the state of CFs and philanthropy, are offered also reflection pieces written by various participants of the study trips and offered their personal reflective view of the practice they observed. These reflections provide a highly qualitative view on visited community foundations and their practice and represent a kind of expert/practitioners’ feedback on the country state of affairs in the community foundations practice.
The CF Study Trip Project has finished in its current format in 2014 after the Study Trip to Slovakia. At present (2016-17), it continues as a part of the peer learning offerings of the European Community Foundation Initiative (ECFI).