The Various Tools and Processes that Community Foundations Use to Improve Practice

Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland10

General Experiences:

In three Visegrad countries11 in the 1990s, the emerging community foundations gained the interest and confidence to play a critical role in building their own communities. 12

  • “Community foundations are an important way to return to people the will to act and the confidence that they can influence what goes on in their community....CFs have come a long way in five years, despite the difficulties they sometimes have in convincing municipal authorities that they, and not town hall, must have the final word on foundation activities.“ (_ Panikova)

Tomás Krejci, executive director of the Usti Community Foundation concurred that more important than raising money was "creating a neutral space where people can talk," referring to the close cooperation with local players, including municipal authorities.

National associations work on standards

From 2001-2006, the national associations or networks of community foundations were established:

  • 2001: The Community Foundation Network in Poland (Polish Network of Local Philanthropy Organizations or LOF) was set up as an informal network. The body was working on ‘agreement over quality standards’ since inception13 but started the process to formalize standards only in 2010 (as of this report writing).
  • 2003: The Association of Slovak Community Foundations (AKNS) started with 8 members. “Standards for Community Foundation in Slovakia” were adopted.
  • 2006: The Association of Community Foundations in the Czech Republic (AKN) has both community foundation members and supporting organizational members. The “Community Foundation Minimum” provides the characteristics of a community foundation.

Competitive processes and standards are introduced

In 2007, the V4 Community Foundation Maturity Program of the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland started with the support of C.S. Mott Foundation and CEE TRUST (Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe). The V4 Program offered regular grant rounds and in the process, introduced standards. Iwona Olkowicz, program coordinator, identified where else the countries observe the most important of ‘benchmarking rules’:

  • Each country‘s law and specific acts for associations and foundations
  • Standards or Principles set by the national associations (except for Hungary where there is only 1 emerging community foundation)
  • WINGS criteria or C.S Mott Foundation ‘suggestions’
  • Other programs implemented (e.g., Act Locally in Poland)

The law covers the basic issues: legal form and the rules on accountability and finance management. The networks also emphasize endowment building, funds and investments management and fundraising in a variety of ways. But there are also differences among the three countries, i.e. the financial audits and annual reports are necessary in Czech Republic and Slovakia but not in Poland. More information is provided below in the summaries per country.

10Reports from Katarina Minarova, Iwona Olkowicz and Aneta Kapel, and Tomas Krejci (for a contribution to the V4 report.)
11Hungary is not discussed as data was not obtained.
12‘Community Foundations across Eastern Europe Advance Step by Step,’ The Chronicle of Philanthropy, October 2001
13Amorim, Luis, “Community Philanthropy in Europe: New Approaches to Revitalizing Community Life.” European Foundation Centre, 2002.