Community Philanthropy in the Americas: Innovative Approaches

Community Philanthropy in the Americas: Innovative Approaches

This blog post was written by Lisa Schalla, Project Director of the Connecting Communities in the Americas initiative.

This past February, 117 participants from 35 community foundations and 19 other organizations from 10 countries across the Americas met in Guadalajara, Mexico, for the 2023 Connecting Communities in the Americas Gathering, Community Philanthropy in the Americas: Innovative Approaches.
People sitting in chairs on a panel discussion.

The plenary sessions focused on how community philanthropy is defined and approached across regions in the Americas, with participation from Community Foundations of Canada, the Community Foundation of Puerto Rico, IDIS of Brazil, The Boston Foundation and Territoria in Colombia.

Conference participants led the concurrent sessions, which included examples of foundation work in gender equity and human rights, promoting local philanthropy, partnering with the business sector, balancing transactional services with community leadership, incorporating the SDGs and a workshop on demystifying impact.

People standing in front of a building, talking.

Participants engaged in rich conversations during site visits at three local organizations:

  • Home for abandoned children
  • Center of attention for migrants and refugees
  • Municipal community center

Participants shared how welcoming the convening was for them, coming from various countries and contexts. At CCA we place a high value on language equity and inclusion, so we invited individuals to share in their own languages while we provided simultaneous interpretation services. Those who attended also valued the opportunity to connect with colleagues in the sector and across countries, hear about others’ strategies and have a space to share their own to share experiences.

Understanding the learning and challenges of different organizations is inspiring and helpful for continuing work in our communities…finding common interests with colleagues to share and collaborate.
CCA Gathering participant

This was the largest convening held by CCA until now and we are proud to report that we were able to offer travel stipends to almost half of the attendees, making it possible for a rich, personalized exchange of ideas that many foundations would otherwise not have been able to afford.

People sitting around a table doing an activity with post-it notes.

We are especially grateful to our amazing host community foundation in Guadalajara, Corporativa de Fundaciones, and those who so generously supported the event and travel stipends: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Inter-American Foundation and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, as well as to Comunalia and CFLeads for their logistical support. It takes a village!

It was so inspiring to share this time with philanthropy colleagues across the Americas. We have some beautiful differences, but so much in common. I am so grateful that I could attend.
CCA Gathering participant
Entire group of CCA Gathering participants.