Key Points

This article presents three case studies — from Ghana, the U.S., and Canada — to examine how community philanthropy might scale up to support community asset management and increase the power of communities to determine their own development with much greater and more complex financial investments.

Community philanthropy institutions have become increasingly popular — especially in the Global South, where they serve to harness local assets, cultivate local capacities, and build trust among diverse stakeholders. Although bilateral donors and other international development funders are beginning to recognize the power of these local organizations, they are usually considered small-scale actors.

As resource extraction continues to reach into remote areas and other large-scale industries (e.g. solar energy, agroforestry) grow, pressure on resources and the rights of communities will intensify. This article illustrates the agility, responsiveness, and effectiveness of the Newmont-Ahafo Development Foundation, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, and presents a case that, despite organizational challenges, community philanthropy has demonstrated the power to promote community self-determination, democratic decision-making, and more sustainable results from development projects.

Open Access