About Us

In Romania, community foundations were born out of people’s generosity and desire to bring positive change to the communities they live in.

In 2005, the Association for Community Relations began to work on a vision of communities helping themselves, finding within them the strength and involvement needed to generate a positive change. Inspired by the impact that community foundations in other countries had in 2006, Alina Porumb from ARC wanted to test community interest in building a local funding institution with the resources available in communities.

The pilot phase started in Transylvania with the message “If you want to do good, do it well” and after a year of discussions with four local groups, the first two community foundations in the country were registered in December 2007 and January 2008, namely Odorheiu Secuiesc and Cluj-Napoca.

This key moment inspired ARC to craft a ten-year strategy, at the end of which Romania would have 14 to 16 fully operational foundations. These foundations would become active philanthropy centers, supporting the involvement of private donors, responding to local needs and opportunities, with enough resources to become actors with a key role in local development.

A new phase of development started in 2009. Under ARC leadership, a national program for supporting community foundations was built, in cooperation with Environmental Partnership Foundation and PACT Foundation, and with the financial support of C.S. Mott Foundation, Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe and Romanian-American Foundation. This framework also benefited from the expertise and participation of the two existing community foundations in Cluj-Napoca and Odorheiu Secuiesc.

The second campaign for setting up community foundations was addressed to citizens who “wanted to turn doing good into a lifestyle.” This slogan, as well as the first one, touched upon essential aspects of the activity of community foundations. Doing good through involvement in the community can generate durable results if those involved are persistent, open to learn from past experiences, and apply the lessons learned to current and future practices. Another important aspect is that community foundations need to be very well organized and have a quality management system in place. Through their activities, community foundations need to offer a pleasant experience for those who are involved in donating or building successful local initiatives.

Between 2010 and 2012, six new community foundations emerged as a result of this joint support: Alba and Covasna (April and October 2010), Bucharest and Mureș (November 2011), Iași and Sibiu (May and October 2012).

Reactions of locals have shown that foundations do belong in the midst of communities and can help to generate positive and genuine change. In 2012, the first four established foundations decided to unite in a federation, to bring together their shared energy and expertise. The Romanian Federation of Community Foundations was created as a platform which represents the community foundations and supports the development of philanthropy at national level.

In 2013, the foundations have doubled the value of their grant-making funds and started playing an important role in terms of developing the spirit of involvement at a local level. In 2014, ARC, the Federation and the 12 Community Foundations developed a shared vision for the year 2019, when the goal is to have 20 community foundations serving at least 50% of the entire population of Romania.

In 2015, three new communities have joined the movement (Galați, Brașov, Dâmbovița), followed in 2016 by the third most populous city in the country, Timișoara.

In the ten years since the launch of the first foundation, Romania has undergone numerous changes, the non-governmental environment being now stronger, with a greater impact, and people being increasingly involved in charitable projects. Along with numerous non-governmental organizations, the community foundations have succeeded in bringing together people who work for more active, involved and stronger communities.

In 2018, we started working with new initiative groups, with the ambition of supporting 4 other organizations to be set up in the coming year. Currently, community foundations are serving 46% of the Romanian population for building hope and generosity.

“I believe that trust is the social glue a community needs so that it can be called home. The Foundations’ mission is to turn this noun into a verb, to inspire and help the people in the communities in which they operate to build things together, using community resources”, Rucsandra Pop, Director of the ARC Community Foundation Program.

Discover the impact of the Romanian community movement, in the infographic realized by ARC, for 2008-2019: