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Kenya Community Development Foundation

January 4, 2019

Formed in 1997 as a public philanthropic institution, the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) was established by a group of Kenyan development workers passionate about building a resource for self-empowerment that was not entirely dependent on foreign aid. KCDF is a development organization which aims to promote the sustainable development and self-sufficiency of disadvantaged and marginalized communities within Kenya and to encourage the growth of organized giving. Since its establishment, KCDF has impacted the lives of more than 2.2 million people and forged partnerships with over 2000 organizations within Kenya. It unites donor and community agendas, promotes non-profit’s financial sustainability, and encourages a long-term, empowered understanding of development & philanthropy within Kenya.

The organization is supported by 4-5 international donors per year and 10-15 local supporters, including Kenyan individuals, families and companies. Donors join and leave the collaborative as funding interests change. Early supporters included the Ford Foundation and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation. While these funders have since left KCDF to pursue other interests, KCDF was joined by Comic Relief, Wilde Ganzen and USAID among others.

Donors support KCDF through a range of restricted and unrestricted funding as well as through KCDF’s community endowment fund, which KCDF uses to award grants to initiatives identified through a careful analysis of Kenya’s development needs. KCDF helps to facilitate funder objectives by providing a contextual understanding of Kenyan development issues and access to local stakeholders. KCDF is not driven entirely by funder interests, but rather assists in providing funder focus on critical needs. For over 21 years, KCDF has invested significant effort in identifying organizations and aligning strategies. Since 1997, KCDF has awarded over KSHs 2.3 billion in grants to community led projects in line with KCDF’s areas of focus.

KCDF’s Executive Director Janet Mawiyoo believes that systemic and sustainable change is possible, “when communities initiate and drive their development agenda, work with governments and other actors to access basic rights and services as well as harness and grow their own resources. Impact in achieving social justice may be measured through government engagement and provision of basic services to communities. When a Ministry gets involved and takes responsibility over an issue, then you know you have brought back the system (and) made it work.”

Like many community foundations, KCDF has struggled with program management, fluctuations in donor interest, and dwindling donor flexibility. With the departure of some its founding funders from giving core support, KCDF continues to innovate new strategies to resource the infrastructure support they need implement their programmatic interventions. Nevertheless, they are moving ahead with strategies to help generate earned income, build a stronger organization, and provide training in resource mobilization and other core institutional strengthening skills to further increase the capacity of Kenyan communities to advocate for their rights.

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