Community Capacity

Community Capacity

In 2011, Philanthropy Northwest’s commitment to advancing philanthropy’s role in building community capacity was spelled out in our refreshed mission statement: Philanthropy Northwest promotes, facilitates, and drives collaborative action by philanthropic organizations to strengthen communities in our region.

For us, community capacity is defined as the complex web of attributes that enable a community to build solutions to public problems and improve community and individual well-being. It encompasses, or is related to, civic engagement, philanthropy’s role in promoting democracy and organizational capacity building.

Philanthropy and the Regeneration of Community Democracy paved the way for Community Democracy Workshop, a project of Philanthropy Northwest.

Models of Foundation Work in Community Capacity

Community Capacity Building, Lessons Learned from our Partners
Written for Philanthropy Northwest in May, 2012, the report highlights three philanthropic efforts to build the capacity of local communities in the West - The Ford Family Foundation’’s Ford Institute Leadership Program, the Northwest Area Foundation’’s Horizons Program, and the Orton Family Foundation’’s Heart and Soul Community Planning Program.

The Ford Institute for Community Building
A program of The Ford Family Foundation, the institute works to help community leaders learn how to implement local solutions based on principles of effective community building.

The Wisdom of Communities, How the Ford Institute Helps Rural People Achieve Their Own Vision of Vitality
This paper describes the development and work of the The Ford Institute for Community Building.

"The New Energy Frontier"
Video about community collaboration in Lake County, Oregon, rebuilding the economy around renewable energy. A project funded by The Ford Institute for Community Building.

Reports about Community Capacity

Grease and Glue: Philanthropy's Unique Opportunity to Strengthen Communities
A snapshot of Philanthropy Northwest's work in building civic capacity and strengthening civil society


Philanthropy and the Regeneration of Community Democracy
This paper from The Kettering Foundation explores community democracy as a cultural choice and a potential organizing system for philanthropy using stories that demonstrate its principles and practices. It offers a framework of principles for productive partnerships from the perspective of a place-based, community democracy. Written by Peter Pennekamp with Anne Focke.


Community Capacity Working Glossary
The glossary offers a common language that defines core concepts and closely related terms.