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

Ruomei Yang, Charles Harvey, Frank Mueller, Mairi Maclean

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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 n 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)959-982
Number of pages24
JournalNon-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number5
Early online date10 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2021


  • community foundations, diffusion, elites, mediators, translation theory


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