Short History of the Development of Community Foundations in Bulgaria

In 2009, the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation hosted the national program for the development of community foundations, co-funded by the CEE Trust (by 2011), Mott Foundation, and from 2011 till present – by America for Bulgaria Foundation. The program currently supports 10 community foundations in Blagoevgrad, Burgas, Chepelare, Gabrovo, Lom, Ruse, Sliven, Stara Zagora, Varna and Yambol. Current donors of the program are Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and America for Bulgaria Foundation.

Community foundations have been working for the development of culture of philanthropy in Bulgaria since 2002 with the support of a number of international organizations. Initially, the concept was tested in small and middle-sized communities (2002-2006) by the Community Foundations Development Program, implemented by Counterpart International, and funded by USAID. From 2006 till 2009, the community foundations were strengthened as local grantmaking organizations with the support of the Trust for Civic Society in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE Trust) and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

From July 2009 till end of August 2013, the community foundations, which were supported with institutional development grants and matching grants for social innovation by WCIF have raised and distributed BGN 3,386,419 to fund about 500 projects of local NGOs and informal groups. The community foundations apply diverse approaches for individual and corporate donor development, ranging from one-to-one meetings to special events. Every donor is presented with multiple opportunities to get involved. The community foundation directs the donations transparently and effectively, and reports back to the donors and the community at large. Each community foundation manages a portfolio of donor-advised funds, corporate philanthropic programs, and multiple donors’ field-of-interest funds, which are used to finance projects in preliminary selected priority areas.

The network of the community foundations was enriched by 13 YouthBanks – an internationally recognized brand of youth philanthropy – in the period July 2012 – August 2013. The latter trained 169 young philanthropists, funded 54 youth projects, and reached out to 18,657 young people from all across Bulgaria.

Another social innovation applied by the community foundations is the Giving Circle. The Giving Circle (based on The Funding Network, UK model) creates a community of donors, who are interested in various philanthropic causes and looking for direct contact with organizations, seeking funding. The Giving Circle meets periodically (2-4 times a year) in order to raise funds for preliminary selected projects, which are presented in front of the donors by the organizations that are going to implement them. In the period May 2012 – August 2013, the community foundations in Bulgaria hosted 10 meetings of giving circles in total, organized in Burgas, Gabrovo, Ruse, Stara Zagora, Varna and Yambol. The total amount raised by them was BGN 129,070, and it was used for financing of 41 local projects.


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