Community Endowment and asset based community development

Through Community Endowment, Asset Based Community Development helps communities develop strong local economies, a higher quality of life, and a wide range of leadership and volunteer opportunities. Community Philanthropy aims to empower local leaders to identify community assets, invest in their own resources, and bring about their own positive change.

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    If you are interested in the opportunities that Community Endowment and Asset Based Community Development can bring to where you live or work, then click on the link below and fill in our contact form and keep up-to-date on what is happening in the world of Community Endowment


    What is Community Endowment?


    Community endowment is an essential part of the architecture for locally-owned development because it builds on assets that already exist within communities rather than depending only on what comes from outside.

    The past two decades have seen the emergence of a growing global community philanthropy movement all over the world which is focussed on community control, resources, voice, agency and power. It is made up of both new kinds of institutions (including community foundations, women’s funds, environmental funds, LGBTQI funds, national public foundations etc.) and new ways of working (such as participatory budgeting, grantmaking, giving circles and community asset mobilisation).Community endowment organizations have been shaped by local context and culture, and by people often frustrated by the failures of traditional development aid, anxious about the sense of alienation and disenchantment in their communities, and inspired by the belief that without local resources, local leadership and local buy-in, development projects will continue to land like fireworks – to flash spectacularly and then die.


    • It is based on the idea that all communities have assets (money, skills, knowledge, networks, etc.). When these are pooled together, they build community power and voice.
    • When people contribute their own resources they start to feel like co-investors with a stake in their own development; they care more about the outcomes and act in ways that advance and protect their collective interests.
    • When local resources are brought to the table, a different, flatter kind of power dynamic is created when dealing with external donors, which challenges traditional donor-beneficiary imbalances.
    • Local resources help create new, more horizontal forms of accountability (to the community, not just external donors), which are based on trust and transparency

    Thriving Communities - Building Sustainable Foundations

    This project is funded by the Community Foundation Northern Ireland, and supported by the Global Fund for Community Foundations via their Fostering Community Leadership Initiative


    Community Endowment Programme

    The programme aims to:

    Help local people to envisage a future that they will co-create and be integral to – a vision for a better area to live in and thrive in. In order to support a future that will be sustainable and a community that will be resilient, with leadership that is transparent, encouraging and open. It will focus on an assets based model that pays attention to :-

    • Abundance not scarcity
    • Assets not need
    • Is community-owned and led
    • Building people’s sense of belonging 
    • Act as a catalyst for and will have at its heart innovative grassroots philanthropy that builds leadership and resilience, engages residents to take charge, inspires change and stimulates the local economy.

    Project Road Map

    Stage 1

    Community Need

    Initial project scoping, discussions with potential participants and final agreement on the groups/communities to go forward to the next phase. At this stage it would be important that groups fully understand what they would be signing up to and give formal agreement as to their participation and support.

    Stage 2

    Community Funding

    This the beginning of the journey towards local grassroots philanthropy exploring and tapping into the wealth within the area to support the project going forward.  Work involved in this phase would not just be about the normal/usual fundraising activities but a more in-depth local programme which engages the community in a movement to release financial and human capital. As a new concept within communities there should be an acknowledgement that this could be a medium to long term process

    Stage 3

    Community Cornerstone

    Through a supported grassroots philanthropy process the area that has been developed secures its own resources that enhances its sustainability.   In this phase there is an expectation that a more expansive, area-based, costed, community development plan will be developed that identifies projects, activities and initiatives that will inspire change, create new opportunities and enhance community cohesion and connectivity.

    Stage 4

    Community Sustainability

    This part sees the local community, through its own grassroots philanthropy, have its own fund to support local projects in ways that support empowerment, growing new leaders within the community, local decision making, local accountability and collective success.   Work within this phase will see CFNI support the group leadership and their respective communities to build their own localised community fund and decision making processes. 


    An Inclusive Process

    The project will have as its foundation an inclusive process that embraces every gift from the community whether this represents capital of a financial or human nature.  This will not happen without the buy-in from the local communities and many different groups and individuals. I

    This is a very different way to approach to local community philanthropy, as it shifts thinking and practice from grants, to tapping into, and using the wealth of the community, in a sustainable way. 

    Our Role

    Prospect Awards Role

     Linking closely with the Nebraska Community Foundation and the Global Fund for Community Foundations Prospect Awards will explore how these models could be transferred to a Northern Ireland context and from this learning develop a 2 year pilot programme. Our outputs are

    • LInking with communities to scope interest
    • Support the 5 groups who agree to go forward
    • Develop a 2 year pilot programme for CFNI
    • Develop 5 Local Philanthropy Action Plans

    Asset Based Community Development and    community endowment

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