The Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation is the most important promoter of community philanthropy in Latvia (since 2012). The Foundation is helping community philanthropy to take root in Latvia by supporting the work of existing community foundations and the formation of new regional community foundations.

Currently, there are nine active community foundations in Latvia: in Talsi, Lielvārde, Valmiera, Alūksne and Ape, Kandava, Limbaži, Middle Latgale, Ķekava and Liepāja.

The Head of the Middle Latgale Trans-District Foundation Janīna Beča, the Head of the Limbaži Foundation Spīdola Lielmane, representatives of the Kandava District Opportunity Foundation Ērodeja Kirillova and Signe Ezeriņa, the Head of the Talsi District Foundation Iveta Rorbaha, philanthropists Boris and Ināra Teterev, the Head of the Valmiera Municipality Jānis Baiks, the Head of the Valmiera District Foundation Ansis Bērziņš, the Head of the Ķekava District Foundation Agita Eizenberga and the Head of the Alūksne and Ape Region Community Foundation Dzintra Zvejniece. Photo: Ilmārs Znotiņš

What is community philanthropy?

Community philanthropy is the goal-oriented attraction of funds, time, skills and other resources for the benefit of the public in a specific geographical area, i.e. in cities and districts. It nurtures and improves the quality of life within a specific community by

  • solving local problems;
  • encouraging collaboration between the nonprofit, State and private sector;
  • developing local charitable traditions;
  • implementing projects of vital importance to the local community;
  • offering local residents opportunity to play a part in the growth of their community.

These goals are fulfilled by community foundations - charitable organisations that ascertain the needs of their local community, attract donations and other resources required for the fulfilment of important projects conceived by local residents, and oversee their implementation. Thus, community philanthropy develops in a planned and goal-oriented manner.

Global philanthropy

Globally, various types of foundations are well-known, some of which already possess the funds they require at the time of their founding, whereas others attract them in course of their everyday work:

  • private foundations are funded with the financial resources of a specific private individual and/or donations and bequests from private individuals;
  • corporate foundations are funded by the donations of one or more companies or the investments they make in a specific sector of interest to them;
  • thematic foundations which grant funds in support of a specific subject or to solve a problem;
  • operational foundations implement projects themselves and do not allocate funds to other organisations implementing projects or initiatives (the majority of foundations in Latvia are operational foundations);
  • community foundations, which operate within a certain territory, attracting the resources of the local community and support local initiatives.

Community foundations in different countries tend to operate according to different standards, however most community foundations tend to share the following attributes:

  • community foundations award funds to the projects of other organisations, moreover to projects encompassing a wide range of social concerns;
  • foundations’ funds are raised from diverse local sources, not just one donor;
  • foundations are independent of any specific political, economic or other power; they are formed through broad partnerships and undertake a leading role in encouraging charity and dialogue;
  • the majority of foundations are funded by inviolable capital and ensure its goal-oriented governance.

Community philanthropy is an international movement that facilitates positive changes within societies on almost every continent. Globally, there are 1,864 active community foundations, 670 of which are in Europe. Nine of these operate in Latvia – in Talsi, Lielvārde, Valmiera, Alūksne and Ape, Kandava, Limbaži, Mid-Latgale, Ķekava and Liepāja. They span 26 municipalities and almost 300,000 residents.

Community foundation contact information.


Community philanthropy in Latvia

Among the Baltic States, Latvia is the only country in which community philanthropy has taken root, and which can reflect on 15 years of achievement in this realm.

Around 2000, the Baltic– American Partnership Fund set one of its goals as strengthening the culture of philanthropy in Latvia, in order to encourage the formation of new and stable financial sources to fund the activities of civic society.

The development of social participation and community philanthropy manifested itself as the introduction of a residents’ forum model and community foundations.

The origins of residents’ forums and community foundations in Latvia date back to 2001, when the Baltic-American Partnership Fund announced a project competition to implement the pilot project “Participation of Residents and Community Philanthropy”. At community level, two local organisations were chosen: the Northern Kurzeme NGO Support Centre in Talsi and the Lielvārde Foreign Communication and Education Support Office. The task of both organisations was to develop potential ideas for the participation of residents and community philanthropy within their respective operating territories.

The first pilot project phase was aimed at encouraging the participation of residents, to which end residents’ forums were organised modelled on U.S. experience. Parallel to this, this participation model was also developed in Lithuania and Estonia. Latvia thoroughly analysed the advantages and shortcomings of the model in an effort to find an approach suitable to the mentality of Latvia’s residents. It was trialled during the first residents’ forums, which took place in Lielvārde and Talsi. The results of the first residents’ forums testified to the fact that residents were interested in participating, and that a residents’ forum is a way to interest and motivate residents to participate in the formation and development of their surrounding environment.

In turn, the second pilot project phase was dedicated to mastering the concept of community philanthropy. Under its auspices, consultants were recruited from the Russian representative office of the Charities Aid Foundation, and study visits were conducted to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as work in Talsi and Lielvārde to establish local community foundations.

The process of establishing the community foundations and its result in both cities, i.e. Lielvārde and Talsi, turned out to be very different. This only served to strengthen the belief of supporters of the community philanthropy initiative that the establishment of a community foundation is unique to each individual place, and that there is no uniform prescription how to do this. However, there are a range of pre-conditions that must be taken into account in the process of establishing a foundation. An impression of this can be gained from this report on the how the foundation establishment process took place in Talsi, Lielvārde, Alūksne, Valmiera and Liepāja.

In 2008, the Baltic-American Partnership Fund concluded its operations in Latvia and the Baltics and support for the establishment of new community foundations declined. However the organisation of residents’ forums and the work of community foundations have proved that they are successful tools with which to mobilise the local community.

The Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation launched its community philanthropy development programme in 2012. Its goal is to strengthen and develop the concept of community philanthropy in Latvia, providing support for the development of existing community foundations and initiatives to establish new community initiatives in rural areas. Since 2012, Latvia’s community foundations have already attracted EUR 1.3 million, which has made it possible to fulfil the visions of local residents in hundreds of cities and regions.

Check out this INFOGRAPHIC about the establishment, goals and operation of community foundations.