Strategies for the Development of an “Ownership” Model of Community Foundations in Italy

Sonia Schellino, Senior Fellow, International Fellows Program ~ 2008




After providing a very brief survey of the Italian philanthropic landscape, which includes 20 community foundations, Ms. Schellino argues that the future challenge for these community foundations which were initiated with the help of bank foundation funds is to portray themselves as independent organizations.


The author explains that demonstration of independence will require efforts to engage individuals with different skills and a range of financial resources. Her recommendations include strategies to reach out to community leaders, foster strong partnerships, and educate young people. These recommendations include:


For the governance framework—

  • Select a board so that it reflects and represents the community it serves.
  • Set out board governance policies that define numbers, terms of service, and compensation details.
  • Involve young and emerging leaders from the start.
  • Provide members of the board with learning opportunities that draw on a cross-section of the community.
  • Require board members to make donations to the community foundation.


For building communities—

  • Work closely with lawyers and others who deal with wills, including those affiliated with financial institutions.
  • Initiate a plan of action based on research about the needs of the community that is conducted in consultation with community stakeholders.
  • Provide donors with involvement opportunities and a menu of funding choices in accordance with the foundation’s strategic plan.
  • Promote donor options for recognition using “naming opportunities.”
  • Provide educational programs for young people and the public at large to foster community awareness about philanthropy.


Ms. Schellino argues that following these recommendations will help engage local leadership and resources, and will generate increased community commitment and a sense of ownership.



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