By Rosemary Macdonald, CEO, UK Community Foundations
Over the past two weeks, global leaders have come together at COP26 to determine how we tackle climate change. The scale of the challenge is daunting. The stakes couldn’t be higher. What’s plain to see is that no individual actor can affect change alone. Every sector needs to be examining its practices.
The philanthropic sector, which I am proud to be a part of, will have a significant role to play in making change happen. The COP26 #PhilanthropyForClimate roundtable, co-hosted by Foundation Scotland, saw over 200 representatives attend from trusts and foundations around the world. The overarching question the event posed was: ‘how can philanthropy galvanise local action for global impact?’. It was clear from the speakers, attendees, and discussions that foundations are serious about turning pledges into action.
The emphasis on local is key. The effectiveness of place-based approaches has been proven time and again. Trusting local people and organisations to identify and tackle need gets to the very essence of what community foundations are about. Although they don’t always get the recognition they deserve – local charities and community organisations collectively have a huge impact both in the UK and around the globe.
The past 18 months have put things in perspective for the UK’s civil society. Collaboration – expedited by necessity – has underpinned our response to the coronavirus. But what comes next? The effects of the pandemic are still with us. This winter will see record levels of fuel poverty and more people than ever are turning to food banks. It’s not the time to return to silos.
So where does all this leave us? There is an urgent need to join up the dots across civil society and to ensure that the impact of local people is duly recognised. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide the perfect framework for us to do just that. Without losing the nuance of place, they allow us to position our local work in a global context. The 17 interconnected Goals are broad enough to encompass the huge variety of causes, services, and people that our sector helps.
Whether you are a foundation, philanthropist, a local charity, or corporate – you can play your part in helping to achieve the Goals. Our new report will look at the impact of our community foundation network through the lens of the SDGs. It shows how community foundations, their donors, and the grassroots organisations we support all contribute towards the 2030 Agenda.
2030 gets closer every day. We can’t afford to miss partnership opportunities or duplicate our work. Framing our impact within the SDGs will allow us to sew a golden thread through the work of the charity sector. By thinking globally and acting locally, we can give a platform to the local people who are meeting global challenges head-on and making sustainable change within their communities.
You can read the UK Community Foundations report here.