In the absence of a coherent approach by the state to collaborative governance, a number of private and quasi-governmental foundations have been supporting food NGOs
Criticisms of foundation approaches (adapted from Kushnir and Crouthers, 2022)
Foundations have been essential to the success of many community projects, but the funding and support models employed have also been criticized for ultimately impeding positive change. This can occur in a number of ways:
- Propping up capitalism. Some foundations, formed from the profit making of firms that have contributed to current problems, only fund non-profits or some of their projects that are not too challenging to the status quo.
- Shifting theories of change. Many foundations have no theory of effective change, and those that do, often keep shifting it. Each change brings about new priorities, orientations and application requirements to which non-profits must constantly adapt.
- The constant search for resources. Most foundations operate on a competitive grants basis, for short term contracts, typically requiring re-applications once the term has ended. Success rates can often be low relative to the number of applicants. Organizational leaders often end up spending most of their time fundraising rather than implementing their agenda.
- Supporting hard, but not soft, infrastructure. However, soft infrastructure is often more critical to scaling up and out than hard infrastructure (cf. Friedmann, 2007; Campbell and MacRae, 2013; Connelly and Beckie, 2016). Many organizations have, as a result been in situations without sufficient staff to optimize the hard infrastructure that has been funded.
- Projects rather than operations. Related often to the infrastructure problem is the foundation focus on new projects and program rather than supporting core operations. This can take NGOs away from their core competencies in an effort to get any support possible.
- Grant makers not actually knowing how to work with communities and community organizations. This occurs in cases where granting bodies claim their funding is designed to support community innovation, but ultimately isn't well designed for that purpose, resulting in philosophical and practical disputes about implementation.