Dalia Association is a community foundation that realizes our rights as Palestinians to control our resources for our own durable development for generations to come. Our mission is to mobilize and properly utilize resources necessary to empower a vibrant, independent, and accountable civil society, through community-controlled grant-making. Our community development approach focuses on the ecological, local economy, social and cultural dimensions.
New to a community foundation? Wondering what it means?
A community foundation is an establishment that allocates and mobilizes local resources to serve community needs and priorities.
A little history, if we may....
In 2006, three independent developments converged to make a Palestinian community foundation an obvious and strategic way to effect a permanent, structural improvement in Palestinian lives. First, the January legislative elections that brought the Hamas movement to power within the Palestinian Authority led almost immediately to a near-total cut-off of budgetary support and severe reductions and restrictions in support to civil society. Overnight, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who had been the largest per capita recipients of international aid in the world plummeted even further into poverty and became even more vulnerable to the violence of the Israeli occupation. Emergency aid channeled through multilateral organizations and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs), has not compensated for the loss of earned income, and in fact, has deepened the sense of indignity and hopelessness that has pervaded the lives of generations of Palestinians.
Second, after over 150 meetings in 2004 and 2005 with Palestinian civil society leaders, activists, professionals, and philanthropic experts from around the world, a core group of Palestinians became convinced that a community foundation -- as idealistic as this seems -- was worth pursuing. A working group of dedicated volunteers formed, adding the community foundation to their long list of community activities. This energy fed on itself and even persisted through the very difficult period of the war against Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza incursions.
Third, a series of well-timed encounters with leaders in international philanthropy (including a paid invitation to participate in the "Grantmakers without Borders" conference in June 2006) led to a wellspring of support, jumpstarting our development.
Establishment of Dalia Association
A retreat with the original working group members was held in Jericho, West Bank on September 28-29, 2006 with funding from Birzeit University Center for Continuing Education. The decision to hold it in Jericho was made to ensure that the majority of working group members could attend, given the logistical obstacles relating to the Israeli permit system that is imposed on Palestinians which makes the movement extremely difficult and sometimes impossible. A second retreat was held in Ramallah on October 6, 2006 to complete the participatory process, which began in Jericho. The cumulative achievements of these meetings were: the Founding Board of Directors was identified; Dalia mission statement was created; Dalia vision and future strategies were decided; Dalia's organizational name was chosen, and a governance structure was established with committees formed.
Dalia means “grapevine” in Arabic. Nearly every Palestinian house has a Dalia plant, and we all know that if you take care of it, a grapevine will feed you, shelter you, and provide beauty for generations. This is exactly what Dalia does for us. It is a mechanism for us to become our own donors, investors, and decision-makers.”
Dalia was later formally registered as a legal entity on January 3, 2007.
- Making grants to support inspirational and relevant civil society initiatives, especially grassroots efforts that seek to supplement local resources.
- Link resources by introducing people with expertise, ideas, contacts, equipment, and other assets to community activists who can use them to serve their communities. This helps decrease our dependence on outside resources.
- Encourage giving by locals, companies, and refugee and Diaspora Palestinians. We revive local traditions of philanthropy and volunteerism such as mujawara* and al Ouna*.
- Advocate for systemic change in the international aid system so that it respects Palestinian rights and responds to local priorities.
Mujawara (neighboring) are ideas shared freely with no control by any authority, and Al Ouna (indigenous aid system), a form of collective efforts led by the community to help individuals in their personal affairs, and to enhance the well-being of the entire community. These traditions are successful methods reviving a culture of sharing and convening, which is enabling us to have an active civil society ensuring its own democratic autonomy.