Transatlantic Community Foundation Network

Transatlantic Community Foundation Network

By
Laura Arrillaga, Victoria Chang
2005|Case No.SI78

In 1999, the Germany-based Bertelsmann Foundation and the U.S.-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation jointly established the Transatlantic Community Foundation Network (“TCFN”). TCFN was a learning organization comprised of community foundations and support organizations from Europe and North America. The network’s purpose was to both facilitate the exchange of experience and expertise among TCFN members and foster the development of community foundations in countries where the concept was relatively new.

Since the mid-1990s, the community foundation concept had spread rapidly around the world. Between 1999 and 2004, the number of community foundations outside North America grew at a rate of 176%. By 2004, roughly 1,120 community foundations existed in over 42 countries and more than 420 community foundations operated outside of the U.S. Factors contributing to the growth of global community foundations included increasing interest in strengthening civil society organizations in emerging democracies and shifting notions of the welfare state’s role in Western Europe.

As an operating foundation that administered its own programs, the Bertelsmann Foundation was managed TCFN and received financial support and advice from the Mott Foundation. By 2005, the Mott Foundation had provided two grants to TCFN totaling $812,500 and was in the process of funding a third phase through 2008. Both funders and members had learned much during TCFN’s six years of operation and felt optimistic about the potential to further strengthen the network’s programming in coming years. As they entered the third phase of funding for TCFN, representatives from Mott and Bertelsmann deliberated on how to best maximize the impact of TCFN’s resources and ensure the long-term sustainability of its efforts.

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