The Role of Community Foundations Locally and Factors Influencing the Success of Community Foundations around the Globe. [With a special look at the American, British, and Polish examples]

Andrzej Zawieska, Senior Fellow, International Fellows Program ~ 2007


Abstract:  The modern community foundation, which was born out of a tradition of philanthropy in North America in the early twentieth century, has been adapted successfully to different local cultures, socio-economic circumstances and giving traditions around the world.  In his paper, Andrzej Zawieska summarizes the current situation of community foundations and introduces factors influencing the success of community foundations in the United States and Europe. He places particular emphasis on the importance of good leadership and endowment building, suggesting that these are equally applicable to build a successful community foundation regardless of location. In order to consider factors contributing to sustainability, the author compares community foundations in the US, the UK, and Poland, with regard to sources of donations, investment tools, as well as programmatic focus and diversification. 


In his paper, Mr. Zawieska also includes information about the situation in Poland after communism, and the challenges faced by Polish community foundations and their role in local communities.  In closing, he outlines the basic steps for creating a community foundation in Central and Eastern Europe.  Among the steps recommended to further the development of community philanthropy are:


  • Encourage individuals and businesses to set up named funds, while also providing means for donors who wish to remain anonymous to do so;
  • Extend payroll-giving and encourage employees to support the endowment and scholarship programs of their local community foundations;
  • Increase legal opportunities for investment;
  • Establish partnerships with foreign community foundations;
  • Explore possibilities for the establishment of matching funds from foundations outside of Poland;
  • Research opportunities for engagement of the Polish diaspora;
Establish an association of Polish community foundations to develop standards and to facilitate cooperative action.



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