The research on “The impact of local foundations on social changes in local communities” was created within the program “Our local foundation – the community has a say!” that the Trag foundation launched to support the establishment of community foundations in the Western Balkans region. The research was conducted in cooperation with the Center for the Study of Social Development from Novi Sad, with the idea of assessing the effects of the work of the initiative groups that established the community foundations in three cities in Serbia. The research was done by evaluating the results of the projects of informal groups and associations that these initiative groups supported until June 2022.
By the end of September 2022, the groups from Niš, Pančevo, and Stara Pazova have jointly raised over 50,000 US dollars which the Trag Foundation doubled and that were used to support 56 formal and informal citizens’ initiatives in these cities.
Trag Foundation has been contributing to the building and strengthening of community foundations in Serbia since their beginnings in 2011. From 2019 onwards, through the program “Our local foundation – community has a say!”, Trag has been providing systemic support to selected informal groups of at least three people from the same community who wish to build a community foundation in their surroundings. Selected groups of citizens receive support through mentorship and capacity building, and they aim to raise 15,000 Euros from individuals and businesses in their area, which Trag Foundation matches to provide the first grantmaking budget for support to local initiatives.
Trag first launched this program in Serbia. At the beginning of 2020, based on 28 applications from 17 communities, Trag staff selected four initiative groups to participate in the process – Niš, Pančevo, Stara Pazova, and Šabac. Three of these four groups from Niš, Pančevo, and Stara Pazova reached their goal and became registered community foundations in mid-2022. In the meantime, Trag announced another Call, and the groups selected in 2022 will launch their activities in early 2023. In 2021, the same program was launched in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where three initiative groups are on the way to becoming registered foundations.
We hope this study will help the practitioners, academics, and the general public gain insight into small changes that can make a big difference and that, individually and collectively, we can contribute to building a fairer and more responsible society for all of us. This is why the Trag Foundation has invested in developing local communities since 1999 and encourages citizens to get involved and initiate change for the betterment of their environments. We will also use the conclusions and recommendations from this research to shape further work with community foundations and initiative groups in Serbia and other countries in the region.
The publication was also presented at the National Conference on Philanthropy held on November 29, 2022, in Belgrade, within the panel “View from another angle: the impact of community foundations on encouraging civic activism.” The presentation was done by the researcher Valentina Sokolovska on behalf of the Center for the Study of Social Development, which conducted the research with support from the Trag Foundation.