Grassroots Foundations from South Asia and South East Asia Convene in India

Earlier this month (on September 10 and 11, 2013) the Working Group on Philanthropy for Social justice and Peace and the Global Fund for Community Foundations convened a small group of grassroots indigenous foundations in Shillong in the North East of India. The convening was hosted by the Foundation for Social Transformation – Enabling North East India and included foundations from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.

The convening aimed to provide a platform to these foundations to learn from one another to strengthen their organisational capacities and to work as a group to develop community philanthropy for progressive social change in Asia.

The foundations that participated in the convening are diverse in many ways – they describe themselves as women’s funds, community foundations, peace funds, social justice funds and each of them operates in its shifting and specific country context.

However, despite the diversity there are a number of fundamental commonalities that are apparent in the cohort, both in their values and in their strategies.They all work in societies that face social, economic and political inequalities and with groups that are unfairly marginalized and discriminated against; and they all work for fundamental social transformation that would address the drivers of inequality and conflict.

In their strategies they are driven by the belief that “communities come up with the best solutions to the problems they face”. Their core agenda is therefore to build on and leverage community assets to address the needs of the communities they serve.

At a time when philanthropy in South Asia and South East Asia is growing very fast, the conversations at the convening urged the need and importance of informing and influencing the new philanthropic discourse by the common values of this cohort and others like them. There was also recognition that in order to be heard they needed to leverage their collective voices and speak from a position of strength.

In the coming months we will be working together to define the “value-added” of this emerging breed of organisations in Asia and strengthen our interpersonal connections so that we speak as a collective voice to shape the way mainstream philanthropy operates.

Watch this space!

Organisations that participated in the Shillong Convening: Tewa (Nepal), South Asia Women’s Fund (Sri Lanka), Bangladesh Women’s Foundations, Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (Pakistan), Charkha (India), Simag Foundation (Philippines), Social Trust Fund (Indonesia), Nirnaya (India), Bangladesh Women’s Fund (Bangladesh), Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust (Sri Lanka) i-Partner India (India) Sampradaan Indian Centre for Philanthropy (India), Lin Center for Community Development (Vietnam), Local Development Institute (Thailand), Dalit Foundation (India), Foundation for Social Transformation – enabling north east India (India)