Community philanthropy has its origins in long‑held practices of exchange, mutual aid, solidarity, and community development. ‘Local people helping each other by sharing resources for the common good,’ is an inclusive and caring practice that is found in most, if not all, cultures and communities.
Nevertheless, despite renewed attention to the concept of community philanthropy among both nonprofits and philanthropists, there is limited guidance for those who wish to apply or invest in community philanthropy approaches. This observation is based on my own personal experience trying to understand and apply a community philanthropy approach to my work with grassroots organisations in Vietnam. It is also based on my review of the literature available on this topic, including research from academia as well as practice. Although there is a growing body of literature focusing on community philanthropy, the guidance that currently exists presents different understandings about the concept.
This paper summarises my review of the available literature and seeks to clarify, for those that may be working in the field of development, what it means to practice community philanthropy.