21 April 2021

The Knowledge Capsule – Exploring New Ways to Communicate Local Philanthropy

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in which we learn, connect, and sustain a shared sense of purpose and experience, across physical boundaries. We used this time to create the INSPIRE Knowledge Capsule to help discover fresh ways to spark creative conversations on the relevance of community foundations.

Our normality was a practice of sharing and connection. It was a space of movement that allowed us to have access to our colleagues’ experiences and contexts. Through travel and interaction, we could get a bit of distance from the daily work and see things from a broader perspective. I remember that when I returned home from the first PEXforum in Madrid, it was very easy to connect the dots for the INSPIRE strategy for the future and to feel a fresh sense of energy and possibility.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our context. It has forced us to expand our definition of how we connect with others and learn new ways to sustain a shared sense of purpose and experience, across physical boundaries.

Sensing and pursuing possibilities

Within these new limits, Dafne stepped up and created enriching experiences through which we can grow as individuals and still feel connected. The 2021 online PEXforum has helped me stay grounded in this new normal, but also to travel with my mind to new possibilities. And was a good reminder that we take this journey together, not alone.

While some changes were difficult, I have tried to look at the pandemic as a space of practical opportunity. What can I do now that I would not be able to when I travel? What can I invest in that will bring in more resources on the long run?

This is how the idea of the Knowledge Capsule came about. It was also a process of connecting the dots: looking within to map the learning points of over 15 years of experience supporting community foundations in Romania and remembering essential conversations with colleagues from Central and Eastern Europe. Questions emerging from other regions that are now focusing on developing community foundation movements provided the impetus as well as the structure for the Capsule.

Prototyping new ways of learning and connecting

International physical travel may be limited, but I realized we used journey metaphors a lot. If you enter the Capsule, you can hop on a bike, a boat, an airplane or a kite. For a unique experience, perhaps your means of transportation could be an UFO. The Capsule – the part of an air balloon or a space station that holds its passengers – allows you to see both journey and territory from further up.

From this metaphorical high point, the Capsule allows you to ask and reflect on some key questions:

  • What is the unique value proposition of community foundations in the current and future context, considering emerging opportunities and challenges?
  • Why is it important to stimulate local leadership and make people aware of the resources that they have or can cultivate in the long term?
  • What are some areas where community foundations can facilitate change?
  • Why is local grant-making important or how can community foundations use a fund development approach to engage local donors and cultivate community level philanthropy?
  • And knowing all this, can we help expand the territories supported by community foundations? If so, how much adaptation is needed to the national, regional or local culture?

These are big questions, the kind we would usually explore together at a conference or in a report. Now, we have adapted. We took advantage of several digital tools for a different way to look at these questions – with lots of visual support. We tell the story through video and slides, to serve different learning preferences. There is a suggested path to engage with this journey, but you can also pick your own path or theme of interest. We had fun creating this digital playground to either explore specific questions or enter a more comprehensive journey at your own pace.

The capsule is particularly useful for Dafne and PEXcommunity members supporting community foundations in their countries. It is also useful for the community foundations or philanthropy support organizations – perhaps when welcoming new board members or staff. It might also be useful when there is an interest to learn about what makes community foundations unique philanthropic infrastructures, or to explore whether they might be relevant vehicles for change in your own context.

And now that you know a little bit about its uses, you are warmly invited to a virtual tour of the Knowledge Capsule. If the Miro experience does not work well from where you stand, you can go directly to our YouTube channel playlist.

Designing together: How might we leverage new tools to enrich conversations on philanthropy?

As we  discover how constraints can spark creativity, we are starting to understand the vast potential of digital tools and to look at our colleagues, partners and constituents as fellow designers.

We want to invite you into this conversation and take in further in several ways:

  • Give us feedback on the topics of the Capsule that you would like to discuss more in depth in a live conversation;
  • Explore potential uses of both content and format to inspire your networks and partners to be more engaged with philanthropy at local and national levels and communicate in fresh ways;
  • Save the date for the Thinkfrastructure Conference, 8-10 June 2021, to meet with peers from community foundations and their support organizations to explore how we can build an architecture for change that is enabling and engaging.

Please do get in touch with suggestions. If you see ways in which the Capsule can support or complement your work, we are open to partnership ideas. Find out more about us and how to engage with further steps at www.inspire-change.org, where you can also subscribe to our news.

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Alina Porumb

Strategic design at INSPIRE by APT