20 Years of community foundations in Visegrad countries

By Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland

They say civil society in Central Europe is weak. We say: 40,000 grants and scholarships for local projects. They say people and institutions don’t trust each other, and don’t want to help each other. We say: US $53 million raised. They say the third sector has no strategy for sustainability. We say: endowments equalling US $8.5 million.

The community foundations in Visegrad countries are the result of building civil society after 1989. These foundations serve as a neutral space—the bridge that connects donors and community. Each of them has different roots. Sometimes it was EU money that opened new possibilities; sometimes it was because of international foundations that supported building civil society; other times it was national programs building local organizations. But there were always charismatic local leaders and activists wanting to make the difference in their communities. The first was established in 1994 in Banska Bytrica in Slovakia, and it still operates. So far there are more than 30 community foundations in the Visegrad region, and they all want to improve life for their community members.

Operating models, range, resources and potential differ between these community foundations, as well as the laws and regulations of their respective countries. Yet they still cooperate and learn from one another. Fundraising ideas from the Southern Czech Republic are implemented in northern Poland; practitioners from the Czech Republic present their projects to Slovak community foundations; volunteers from Poland visit volunteers in Slovakia; new Hungarian community foundations use the knowledge and expertise of Czech and Slovak community foundations. These are examples.

What makes Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak community foundations effective? Learn more at the V4 Program website.

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