In the recently published research on Impact and Implications of COVID-19 on Philanthropy Work in East Africa, there was a noted increase in community giving and the use of community-based structures to provide updates on community developments or project progress. The study also highlighted the need to deliberately inform, engage and involve communities in all stages of projects, from need identification to final reporting. This points to the need for enhanced local ownership, changing perceptions and attitudes, and cements an existing culture of local giving. Additionally, this challenges widely accepted development processes being supply-driven (top-down) ensuring legitimacy and relevance through local ownership.
While the context of the pandemic created a perception that these findings were a post-COVID emergence, the centrality of communities was already challenging the status quo of these top-down development models for years. Efficacy of community-driven models is demonstrated by both private and bi-lateral funds applied with the most considerable longitudinal and mounting evidence through the HIV/AIDS response regionally over the last two decades.
At the 2019 East Africa Philanthropy conference, Blood: Water led a session entitled “Community Driven Philanthropy: Strategic Opportunities for Positioning Private Funding Directly at Community Level,” demonstrating the feasibility of this model. The session generated thought-provoking dialogue across private philanthropic organizations to re-examine models of funding to more directly empower community change agents, leveraging community-generated resources and filling funding gaps other mechanisms have created. Community philanthropy is not a discussion on the feasibility of efficacy but rather a discussion of equity and power shifts.
Continuing with the conversation and reinforcing the longstanding evidence existing before but reinforced by COVID-19 on the impact of and learning around community philanthropy for development; this learning session presents two models applied by Blood:Water, Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), and the Mott Foundation: community-led and community-generated philanthropy. The aim of the session is to push forward this into actionable steps to enable this to be the normative standard and not the exception.