There is much scholarly and policy interest in the role that international finance could play in closing the financing gap for community adaptation initiatives. Despite the interest, the overall amount of international adaptation finance that has reached local recipients remains low. What makes internationally-financed climate change adaptation projects focus on investment at the community level is particularly poorly understood. This study systematically assesses conditions that influence the focus on vulnerable local communities in internationally-financed adaptation projects. Using the Adaptation Fund (AF) under the Kyoto Protocol as the case study, we apply fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to analyze 30 AF projects to identify specific configurations of conditions that lead to a stronger or weaker community focus in project design. We find that the absence of high exposure to projected future climate risks is a necessary condition for a weaker community focus in AF projects. Three configurations of sufficient conditions are identified that lead to a stronger community focus. They involve the contextual factors of projected future climate risks, civil society governance, and access modality to AF financing. In particular, AF projects with a stronger community focus are stimulated by the sole presence of higher exposure to projected future climate risks in a group of countries, and by the complementary roles of civil society governance and the access modality to the AF in others. These findings contribute new insights on how to enhance local inclusiveness of global climate finance.