Global Fund for Community Foundations Grants


Presentation of the donor

The Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF) is a grassroots grantmaker working to promote and support institutions of community philanthropy around the world.

We work with individual community foundations and other local grantmakers and their networks around the world, with a particular focus on the global south and the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe. Through small grants, technical support and networking, we help these local institutions to strengthen and grow so that they can fulfil their potential as vehicles for local development and as part of the infrastructure for sustainable development, poverty alleviation and citizen participation.

Our core objectives are
  • To build institutional capacity (through the provision of small grants and technical assistance) among community foundations and similar philanthropic organizations to enable them to build social capital and enhance local decision-making processes in their communities
  • To promote collaboration and networks which advance the field of community foundations and other local philanthropic institutions to increase their effectiveness
  • To influence and build the relationship between the community foundation field and policy makers, governments and international development agencies

Summary of opportunity

Our primary instrument for social change is grantmaking. We give small grants (normally between US $5,000 and $15,000) to individual community foundations. Partly because of the size of the grants and partly because of our conviction that local resources are best placed to develop strong, local philanthropic institutions, these grants are targeted at strengthening the capacities of community foundations and institutions, and increasing their overall effectiveness, rather than at supporting their programmes.

We place a particular value on the powerful and catalytic role that small grants can play in stimulating efforts to develop and support such institutions. Matched funds for re-granting or endowments can increase a community foundation’s local profile by providing an additional incentive for new donors to give, or by demonstrating the mechanism and credibility of its grantmaking programmes. Other grants can allow for peer exchanges, conference attendance and other forms of organizational development support, all of which tend to be harder to raise money for from local donors.

We also provide seed funding for exploratory and start-up activities, and ‘field-building’ grants for convenings and consultations at the regional or national level.

The administration of our grantmaking model incorporates a process of evaluation, so that every procedure involved in making the grants yields evaluation data.

For a more-detailed account of the rationale for supporting community foundations, read our paper on Community foundations and local philanthropy.

Eligibility criteria

Prospective grantees must demonstrate the following in their applications:

Understanding of community philanthropy as a tool for local development and for enabling people to build on existing assets and have greater access to and control over how resources are allocated

Use of grantmaking as a development strategy which devolves power and resources closer to the ground, mobilization of local resources (financial and non-financial) for collective action, governance and decision-making strategies which promote participation and accountability.

Commitment to progressive social change

Demonstration of a recognition of the role of community action in building a vibrant civil society, strengthening democratic culture and addressing issues of poverty, exclusion and marginalization.

Community support

Demonstration of – or potential for – support from its defined community, including an established and diverse base of donor support and broad representation in the governance structure.

Capacity for growth

Evidence of a clearly defined and broadly understood organizational mission and willingness to invest in critical systems and infrastructure in order for the organization to grow.

Added value

Ability to develop replicable tools for growth, and willingness to share them with others.