The objective of this program, launched in 2000, is to assist and encourage local communities in villages and small towns by lending support to civil initiatives that foster developmental aspirations, improve the quality of life as well as contribute to building social capital.
The program offers support to local communities, whose members define their own needs themselves and undertake joint initiatives. Each community consists of different people, has different resources, needs, traditions and experiences, and therefore the “Act Locally” Program supports various initiatives.
Grants are awarded at the local level in open grant competitions, organized each year by a network of Act Locally Centers (ALC) which encompasses associations and foundations operating in the areas resided by up to 50,000 people and covering from four rural communes or municipalities to several counties. The ALC network has successively expanded from 15 centers in 2004 to 77 organizations in 2019, and today it involves 650 communes. There are at least two Act Locally Centers in each voivodship. They establish cooperation with other NGOs as well as local governments and entrepreneurs. New ALCs are selected in an open recruitment procedure by the Competition Committee. The beneficiaries of local competitions are NGOs and informal groups of citizens on whose behalf applications may be submitted by organizations and local public institutions (schools, community centers, libraries) which operate in villages and small towns of less than 20,000 inhabitants.
To date almost 4 million program participants, including about 220,000 volunteers, have been involved in implementation of over 12,000 projects. Since January 2019 the 11th round of the program has been run and it has already offered support to 956 local projects.
The supported initiatives focus on such areas as culture and tradition, education, health care, ecology, sports, creating new opportunities for personal development, leisure time activities, tourism and making the region more attractive, but also on counteracting social exclusion. The common denominator of the assisted projects is local activity that allows residents to acquire new skills, learn how to self-organize better and react to new problems.
Those who implement financially assisted initiatives can take part in “Tell me…” competition which awards the most interesting forms of communicating about implemented projects and promoting them. The awarded works are presented at the program’s website. Also, for several years a competition has been organized awarding the most creative ideas for carrying out campaigns which inform about the possibility of submitting 1% of income tax to an NGO with a public charity status.
In order to improve the Act Locally Centers’ operation the program offers various training sessions, workshops, regional meetings, study visits and webinars that give opportunities to share good practices, improve knowledge and qualifications. and strengthen cooperation within the ALC network. Act Locally Centers use their experience gained under the program in other Foundation’s initiatives such as PAFF Local Partnerships, where they can play role of leaders in coalitions with participants of different Foundation programs jointly engaged in projects benefiting their local community. There is also the “PAFF Leaders” Program, where ALC representatives serve both as leaders and tutors, or the “Sector 3.0” Program, where they belong to the network of mobile advisors assisting other organizations in use of modern technologies.
Since 2016, FIMANGO Local Advisors School based on resources of two PAFF programs – “Act Locally” and “Financial Management for NGOs” (FIMANGO) – has been in operation. It offers an intensive training program aimed at improving the competencies of ALC representatives in financial management counseling to smaller, local organizations that cooperate with them. To date the program has been completed by 40 representatives of 27 Act Locally Centers.
Activities are also taken to share “Act Locally” experiences with Ukrainian NGOs. Act Locally in Ukraine, the initiative being currently implemented and aimed at inspiring Ukrainian NGOs to build a network modeled on ALC, is a continuation and extension of the Global Challenges Local Solutions pilot program co-financed by PAFF in 2016-2017 as part of the “Region in Transition” (RITA) Program. The project is managed by the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland in cooperation with the Ukrainian ISAR Ednania Foundation.
Under the “Act Locally” Program PAFF engages also into initiatives aimed at development and promotion of charity – it supports the Benefactor of the Year Competition, and holds patronage of its Local Development category that promotes civic engagement of companies which act in cooperation with ALC and contribute to long-term changes in local communities. The Foundation is also the main partner of the Civic Leader of the Year Competition, organized by Newsweek Polska weekly (with the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland acting as the strategic partner). The aim of the Competition is to award pro-civic attitudes and promote the activity of individual people as well as backing them organizations aimed at solving various social problems. As part of the program, the Foundation also supports the Charity Stars plebiscite organized by the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland. The plebiscite awards public persons for their charitable activities.
The Foundation has disbursed $17.582.792, including $1.872.912 for the current edition of the program.