Building Community Philanthropy

Building Community Philanthropy

We’re on a learning journey toward more equitable and effective philanthropy.

Through the Building Community Philanthropy (BCP) initiative, we are creating a vibrant, community-driven ecosystem for nonprofits and communities to thrive. BCP brings together 21 partners across Washington and Portland, Oregon to promote equitable philanthropy and support community-led solutions. What began in 2012 as a conceptual idea, has blossomed into a connected network of community foundations, identity-based grantmakers and United Ways that are learning and working collaboratively to tackle common community challenges.


How It Works 

BCP partners meet to explore key issues, such as racial-equity, trust-building, amplifying community voices, supporting collective action and funding community-defined priorities. Through these experiences, BCP partners gain knowledge and skills to engage communities in authentic ways and center their voices and experiences. The Washington BCP initiative is a partnership of Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


What We’re Learning

Since the initiative launched, BCP partners and community members have reported positive changes. Some of the impacts include:

  • Funders have a shared language and a theory of action around DEI and are working together to advance equitable practices and policies.
“We are looking at different power-sharing models. Most models focus on programmatic allotment of grant awards. We are taking it one step further and looking at how to share power about our overall grantmaking strategy and shifting towards that.” - BCP Participant
  • BCP partners are shifting traditional funder-grantee power dynamics in ways that embolden community members around their own power and voice.
“We offered funding for organizational support grants for grassroots organizations in early learning. Instead of making the decisions ourselves, we invited community leaders — people who are directly affected by the issues — to determine the grant awards. That was new for us and very exciting.” - BCP Participant
  • Comprehensive community conversations, coupled with funders’ increased understanding of systemic issues, has led to better community planning and more community-defined priorities.
“If we were to rewind five years ago, we weren’t doing community work and not sure we would be today if not for the learning cohort. The community engagement and capacity-building support really influenced us, and we’ve learned and changed. We have so many more and new relationships and without BCP, we would still be more insular. BCP built our capacity and what we’ve learned from BCP, we can apply externally.” - BCP Participant
  • BCP partners are pursuing joint advocacy efforts to amplify community voices with elected officials, and to further community-led solutions.
  • Corporate, government and private funders are aligned around and investing in BCP partners and community-defined priority areas.

Go deeper and read our report about the first eight years of the BCP initiative focused on centering community for better philanthropy across Washington state. We're grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting this work.


Building Community Philanthropy Partners

The BCP partners include 12 community foundations, six United Ways, and three identity funds. In addition, four of the partners have come together as Collective Action For Education Equity (CAFEE) to specifically support more equitable education outcomes. 

Black Future Co-Op Fund Potlach Fund
Blue Mountain Community Foundation Pride Foundation
Community Foundation of North Central Washington Seattle Foundation
Community Foundation for Southwest Washington Successful Families 2020, United Way of the Columbia Willamette*
Community Foundation of Snohomish County The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
Excelerate Success, Spokane County United Way* United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation United Way of King County
Innovia Foundation United Way of Central Washington
Investing in Children, Yakima Valley Community Foundation* United Way of Snohomish County
Kitsap Strong, Kitsap Community Foundation* Whatcom Community Foundation
Latino Community Fund *CAFEE partners


Interested in supporting building community philanthropy?

Contact Lyn Hunter to learn more about the BCP initiative.

“We are working on embedding the culture, accountability and action of equity and social justice everywhere so that it’s not an add-on. We have not been waiting to do things perfectly. We have been learning by doing, with a clear understanding that we are not going to do something or make a change if we are not living into the value."