Research Roundup: What role can mediators play in spreading the community philanthropy model?

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Research Roundup is a regular ACP feature created to give you an insight into the work academics are undertaking around community philanthropy. Dr. Alexandra Williamson, ACP individual member and academic at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at Queensland University of Technology, looks at a research paper or study addressing the issues Australia’s network of Community Foundations care about.


What are we reading this month?

The Role of Mediators in Diffusing the Community Foundation Model of Philanthropy

Who wrote it?

Ruomei Yang, Charles Harvey, Frank Mueller and Mairi Maclean

What’s their day job?

They’re all from the UK, working in universities across England in schools and departments focused on philanthropy.

  • Dr Ruomei Yang, Lecturer, University of Huddersfield
  • Professor Charles Harvey, Newcastle University, UK
  • Professor Frank Mueller, Durham University, UK
  • Professor Mairi Maclean, University of Bath, UK

Who published it?

Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, one of the top nonprofit studies journals.

Where’s the research based?

The paper is based on an in-depth case study of one of Europe’s largest community foundations, the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, in the northeast of England.

What’s it about?

The paper is about the global diffusion of the community foundation model of philanthropy, specifically from the US to the UK. The authors look at how mediators adapt the community foundation model to suit local conditions. Mediators are divided into macro (those that work at field or sector level, such as peak bodies) and micro (those that work locally, such as major donors, board members/trustees).

Why should I read it?

The paper examines what’s required for the community foundation model to be effectively translated from one country/location/locale to another. They find that a community foundation’s future success depends a lot on whether mediators at both macro and micro levels can help ensure that the foundation is fit-for-context.

Sounds interesting. Have you got a quote?

“CFs provide opportunity for rich but not necessarily super-rich individuals, families and firms to engage in a distinctive form of elite philanthropy that is more socially and symbolically rewarding than simply ‘writing cheques’”.

Okay, so where’s the link?

You can download a copy of the full report here.

Full citation:

Yang, R., Harvey, C., Mueller, F., & Maclean, M. (2021). The role of mediators in diffusing the community foundation model of philanthropy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. doi: 10.1177/0899764021991677

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