A community foundation is a politically independent, community-based organization that mobilizes, invests and distributes resources for community improvement initiatives. Dalia Association is the first Palestinian community foundation. It mobilizes resources for Palestinian-led social change and sustainable development initiatives. Dalia Association was founded because we believe Palestinians need and deserve to control our own resources in order to build a responsive and empowered civil society.

A community foundation may give out grants or loans to organizations and people who plan to do good things for the community. It may provide consultants and mentors to help organizations improve their impact and work more professionally. It may bring members of the community together to generate new ideas and build relationships. It may participate in community activities as a supporter, stepping in to lead activities, like advocacy, that affect the sector as a whole.

In order to fully understand Dalia Association, you need to think in a whole new way, and outside the confines of the international aid system that is now present in Palestine. For example:
  • We do not implement programs. We mobilize resources so that others can implement activities they care about.
  • We do give out our own money. We collect donations from many individual and institutional donors. The resources we mobilize already belong to the Palestinian community at large. We are merely trustees of the funds.
  • We care about all kinds of resources, not just money. Good community work also needs support, expertise, ideas, patience, and other resources that are present in abundance in Palestine. Linking existing resources with community members who can use them is an important function.
  • We do not decide how resources are used. We facilitate open and transparent processes that allow community members themselves to direct resources to their own priorities.
  • We are committed to growing Dalia Association over the next several generations. One way we do this is by building a permanent endowment that is professionally invested in perpetuity. Earnings from the endowment are an independent source of funding for social change and sustainable development activities. This means that one’s contribution continues to help improve the community for generations.
  • We do not only care about distributing money, we also care about building new traditions of philanthropy and increasing the public’s trust in community institutions.

Dalia Association considers every single member of 10 million strong Palestinian community worldwide as a potential donor. Some people might give $1 and some might give $100,000, and others might give their time or advice. What is significant is that if we think of ourselves as donors, we can, over time, decrease our dependence on international aid and reduce the negative consequences of that dependence.

Dalia Association provides a credible organization to which each one of us can give with confidence. Donors to a community foundation demonstrate their trust in the community’s ability to address its own needs. Donors with specific interests in youth or culture or agriculture can direct their gifts to those areas, but it is grassroots communities who know the real priorities and which organizations are best positioned to address them that decide what specifically to fund. We believe it is both an honor and an obligation to support one’s local community foundation.

Community foundations are spreading across the third world as communities empower themselves by recognizing the resources they already have, pooling them together, and making their own decisions about their collective priorities, opportunities, and short- and long-term needs.

See Also

Executive Summary from WINGS-CF Community Foundation Global Status Report - see WINGS: www.wingsweb.org