"During the Emerging Leaders International Fellows Program at the Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society at The City University of New York I had the opportunity to interact with practitioners from many different institutions engaging with community philanthropy from around the world. Sharing practical experiences with them helped me to think about how to achieve long-term sustainability for Italian community foundations and other charities.
I grew to appreciate that the key is in deriving inspiration from communities themselves, and understanding the strong commitment that often already exists to engage citizens. This philosophy, focusing on the local, also helped me to better understand that when tackling global issues - either at the community level or on a wider scale - there is a need to involve a range of actors from different sectors, including politics, religion and economics. I also thought a lot about my own role in the foundations, and what I could do to sustain relationships, and build sound investment strategies. So I’m particularly excited for the upcoming Global Summit on Community Philanthropy, which will present a unique opportunity for the further of sharing stories and lessons learned; thereby supporting the development of community philanthropy globally.
Italy is a wealthy country with a 17 year history of community foundations, however its response to many societal issues is highly fragmented. In the context of the current economic crisis we must work together. I believe that if we combine our resources - both private and public - and really start directing these towards change, then there should be enough for our society to fulfill its needs (and dreams). Community philanthropy has a particular role to play in this, by providing resources to nonprofit organizations and helping them to grow as institutions; by building partnerships and alliances around sustainable collective impact; and, strengthening the culture of giving in communities.
In particular, the Fondazione Comunitaria Nord Milano and the Fondazione Ticino Olona are focusing on motivating and engaging staff, local communities and institutions to think more strategically and critically about creating lasting social change. Being involved in the governance of a number of community foundations and charities, as well as on Assifero's National Council, I can tell you that some people in my country don’t believe community philanthropy can make a difference. I truly hope that the Summit will re-energize my commitment to come back home and say again “Why not?”