Shifting the Power: Applying Community Philanthropy to Durable Development, Here and Abroad

While slogans like “think globally, act locally” have been around for decades, still so much decision-making about philanthropy and development aid happens by stakeholders outside communities. Even those funders that care deeply about championing local leadership and initiatives often struggle with giving up power.

The Council on Foundations, Foundation Center, and Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy partnered at this special event for the launch of a new GrantCraft Leadership Series paper which introduced the concept of community philanthropy: both as a form of, and force for, building local assets, capacities, and trust. Ultimately, community philanthropy is a way to shift power closer to the ground so that local people have greater control over their own destiny, and impact is more sustainable. 

Specifically, this event explored:   

  • What is community philanthropy and how it is distinct, yet related to, concepts like empowerment, ownership, and sustainability for philanthropy and international development?
  • How have donors around the world - in both philanthropy and international development - shared and shifted power using a community philanthropy approach?
  • What support strategies best strengthen local ownership, invest in solutions that have long-term impacts, and build on assets and resources that already exist (or, at least do everything in their power not to undermine them)?
  • Tips, tools, and advice for how donors can change power dynamic and recalibrate relationships with grantees to become strategic partners working together toward common interests.


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