In a project begun in 2011, Synergos brought together individual philanthropists and leaders of community philanthropy organizations (CPOs) from around the world to learn about and understand the potentially transformative benefits of forming partnerships to address societal problems. The project, which was supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, included:
- Surveys, individual and group conversations with international leaders of community philanthropy organizations
- A face-to-face focus group of philanthropists and community foundation leaders from Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean
- Four Synergos-led regional gatherings in Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and the United Kingdom
- Analysis of information gathered.
The project found that CPOs can expand the impact of individual philanthropists by:
- Extending reach into local communities
- Serving as vehicles for partnerships
- Introducing best practices and innovations.
Lessons learned from working in multi-stakeholder partnerships are valuable tools for philanthropists and CPOs to study and share together.
Other project findings include that:
- Both parties in all regions recognize finding and developing the talents of “bridging leaders”? as essential; people-to-people contact between donors and communities and between donors and CPOs can be increased by these leaders
- Acknowledgement and use of CPOs as “centers for gathering or a beacon”? for education and learning can go a long way to create equitable working relationships
- Opportunities to build the field as well as the culture of philanthropy are enhanced by the results of this project.
This project has opened a number of doors to creating opportunities for community foundations and philanthropists to extend their reach as well as significantly increase the impact of their work. It has substantially raised awareness and has also created safe spaces for constructive dialogue on how to move forward in working together. These spaces can now be transformed into more practical “laboratories”? to address community problems.
A report, written by Ann Graham, with detailed findings is available.