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

Ruomei Yang, Charles Harvey, Frank Mueller,
Published: 10 February 2021

Abstract: We examine the role of mediators in locally embedding the community foundation model of philanthropy to enable its global diffusion. We hold that mediators, as trusted agents within elite networks, promote and legitimate institutional innovation by tailoring the model to satisfy local requirements. They thereby limit resistance while creating future potentialities. Our novel addition to the community foundation literature stems from research on the transatlantic diffusion of the community foundation template from the United States to the United Kingdom focused on an in-depth case study of one of Europe’s largest community foundation, that serving Tyne & Wear and Northumberland in North East England. Our findings suggest that success in embedding the community foundation model depends on rendering it fit-for-context and fit-for-purpose. Mediators operating at both the macro and micro level matter because they have the cultural, social, and symbolic capital needed to win acceptance for initially alien philanthropic principles, practices, and structures.
Keywords: community foundation model / Philanthropy / mediators / diffusion / Europe / structures

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