In this topic, I would like to do some reporting on my Vienna trip mostly as a form of a summary of the forum and a bit about Budapest ruin pubs and Vienna's reuse of public spaces.
The 22nd Grantmakers East Forum – “Reclaiming Civic Spaces” was convened in Vienna, Austria, bringing together the experts in endowment building, community philanthropy and other related topics, representatives of civic spaces worldwide, government representatives from different countries and grantmakers themselves.
As part of the mission, we examined the cultural production spaces, physical spaces, education spaces, social innovation spaces, technology and digital spaces, safe spaces to understand the role of philanthropy in making them more robust. Apart from the general agenda, we had great networking opportunity.
As the “Public Space” project is assumed to be implemented in the cooperation with the Yerevan Municipality, we suggested Vergine Simonyan, Head of Foreign Relations Unit of the Foreign Relations Department as a participant to the organizers of the forum. During these days in Vienna, I presented the project to her. She gave tips on how to reach a meeting with the Mayor, what departments could be responsible for giving any information on the public buildings and other technical information.
Break-out session on community philanthropy
Boris Strecansky, European Community Foundation Initiative
- What is community philanthropy?
“Giving by the community to the community”
The community can either be place-based / by region or a community of identity (such as
women, gender or social justice). Most of the time when we talk about community
philanthropy people think of place-based communities; community foundations.
- It has the following three dimensions:
o Associative dimension; Interaction, trust and social capital
o Value dimension; Brings together around shared values, rooted in local culture and
o Dimension of discussion and negotiation; space for discussion to define what is the
common good / brings together multiple stakeholders
Specific added value of community foundations: when people give to people it changes
vertical relationships into more horizontal relationship of donor – grantee
- Resources are not just money / they use volunteer efforts and good ideas
2.Where does community philanthropy stand in CEE region?
- There are over 160 community foundations in CEE countries. Most came about in the last 15 years. Addressing mostly issues around generating patterns and models for social behaviors and not fighting poverty or inclusion.
- Community foundations while they are the most prominent form of philanthropy there are also donor or giving circles (50+). We can also see a growth of youth banks (140+). We can also see the growth of communities of interest. Crowd-funding platforms are growing. (so institutional vs less institutionalised forms)
- Community foundations are often the local centres of philanthropy and working together with other forms.
3.What does it need to grow?
- Enthusiastic individuals
- Contacts and connections within the country, but also internationally
- Spaces for learning and exchange
- Attitude changes: overcoming community insularity and openness towards pluralism and
- Seed funding
- Philanthropy infrastructure organisations at national/regional level
4.What are the challenges the field is facing?
- Developing philanthropy in the CEE remains an uphill battle (philanthropic behavior often happens in-spite of the national trends
- Connecting the “Local” with the “Global”
- Connecting local issues to major international discourses and agendas around social rights, SDGs, climate change
- Many issues remain divisive – especially on value aspects. Community division: “us” and “them” further decreases the bridging social capital, which is already very low in the CEE compared to the WE
- Finding the right role for CP: more political (leadership, take a stand on issues) vs more neutral? – (focus on data gathering and convening)
- Technical challenges: Find long-term or new partners to support operational costs and core work; fundraising locally in huge economic crisis (54% unemployment in B&H); Legislative restrictions (affecting grantmaking); No tax incentives for business donations (Georgia, Serbia, Slovakia, Italy, Croatia); Legacy tax; Business want sole ownership of projects when giving funds
- Not many governments and donors understand well the importance of support organizations for developing the field
Danko Nikolic, Zajecar Initiative
- There are 9 community foundations in Western Balkans (WB)
- Traditional philanthropic giving (top-down model): donors who come in who come in with their priorities vs the recipients who are absorbing these funds
- What we face now in WB is the donor-driven agenda: decision making is based outside of the community
- The four priorities decided by those donors don’t always relate to real needs. CSOs follow the money, not the needs of the community.
- The gap between needs of communities and between what the available money is going to.
- This brings another phenomenon: mistrust. Not only remaining from the communist time or transition period. Citizens are seeing many issues untackled in their communities. These citizens feel they can’t influence any agenda.
- Report on the state of philanthropy in WB: giving is certainly growing. People are used to foreign donors bringing money. Different forms of community philanthropy, less institutionalized (such as mentioned before) are really growing all over the Balkans.
- Also growing is diaspora philanthropy.
- It’s about the overall idea of community philanthropy and not just community foundations.
- It’s about reversing the top-down approach to a bottom-up approach to solve the real needs of communities and repair trust.
Break-out session on endowment building and investment mechanisms
Key questions for every speaker:
1) Why are you here?
2) Why have you chosen to build endowment?
3) What has changed since you started building endowment (Impact)?
Biljana Djordjevic, Trag Foundation
- Got the chance to double match funds in collaboration with Mott Foundation
- Then they first started to run mass campaigns but realized soon that there were more
- They opened doors (which was a big challenge) and started to build new relationships with
- 40% of funds come from individual donors, 25% mass giving, less than 33% own investment
Oksana Oracheva, Vladimir Potanin Foundation
- Background: Charitable institutions in Russia can sometimes not have endowments (uncertain legal situation)
- They aim to raise awareness about the topic and want to bring new models into Russia: NPOs can’t keep endowments but give it to ‚professionals’need to train professionals to work with endowments
- Created network between NGOs interested in the topic (need for exchange)
- Designed educational program for NGOs, museums, education institution, etc. (multi-sectoral
- Started annual ‚Forum of Endowments’
- There’s still a need for publications on the topic
Ewa Konczal, European Venture Philanthropy Association
First, we need to differentiate between
a) Venture Philanthropy
b) Social Investments
c) Impact Investments
Venture philanthropy is characterized by
a) Tailored financial support
b) Long-term non-financial support
- They built the first venture philanthropy fund in Poland which gives grants
- Venture Philanthropy is about combining philanthropy with investment
- Venture Philanthropy addresses a wide range of beneficiaries
- They created a social investment taskforce to increase the number of investments and funds
in central Europe
- The main goal is to introduce venture philanthropy as a tool for foundations
- There are no lessons learned that can be adopted in many countries (need for adjustment in local context)
- Not every organization needs an endowment. Those who decide to build endowment do not only benefit financially but they often also strengthen their local multi-sectoral network of donors
- Having an endowment puts you in a different way of thinking (esp. in the Balkans) with endowments you need to think about tomorrow. This shift is sometimes more important than
financial aspects. In addition, a pool of knowledge is built within the organization.
- The goal is to guarantee long-term stable independent funding through an endowment, it
is possible to guarantee long-term independent funding, even in difficult times
- Also the message you send is different than in the context of short-term funding new
conversations with new donors: you need to sell your mission
- Success factors: trust, relationships, impact measurement
- It is possible to build shared endowments (example: House of Philanthropy Brussels) can
positively impact civil society (social cohesion) especially in local areas
- Key aspects of a good infrastructure for venture philanthropy
o Policy that enables endowment building
o Peer exchange between donors (showcasing existing giving models; communication
and sharing of experiences) donor circles are a good way to engage donors
o Simplification of donating (e.g. via text messaging)
o Investment in next generation (e.g. collaboration with schools)
o Employee matching
o Best practice: individual donor fund
o Best practice: rounding up good example of ‘inclusive philanthropy’ (people who
would usually not donate are able to donate their change)