Participatory grantmaking encompasses a range of models, methods, challenges, and insights. At its core, this approach to funding cedes decision-making power about grants to the very communities impacted by funding decisions. This special collection gathers the experience and insights of funders who have shifted power and builds on the wisdom explored in the GrantCraft guide "Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources through Participatory Grantmaking".

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Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking

October 2, 2018

Funders are increasingly looking to engage the communities they serve in the grantmaking process, but there are few resources about how to do so. In this guide, we explore how funders can engage in participatory grantmaking and cede decision-making power about funding decisions to the very communities they aim to serve. Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources Through Participatory Grantmaking illustrates why and how funders around the world are engaging in this practice that is shifting traditional power dynamics in philanthropy. Created with input from a number of participatory grantmakers, the guide shares challenges, lessons learned, and best practices for engaging in inclusive grantmaking. 

INDIGENOUS WOMEN'S FLOW FUND: 2020 - 2021 Storytelling

May 1, 2021

The Indigenous Women's Flow Fund (IWFF) is an Indigenous-led grantmaking program that nourishes community-sourced initiatives and offers solutions and alternatives to systems in crisis. Grounded in trust-based philanthropic approaches, IWFF brings together five Indigenous women from across the United States, for a three-year period, to be decision-makers over grantmaking dollars and shape the program according to their vision.

YOUTH PARTICIPATORY GRANT-MAKING IN SIERRA LEONE: LESSONS FROM THE TAR KURA INITIATIVE

March 22, 2021

For nearly twenty years, the Fund for Global Human Rights has been a vocal champion of participatory philanthropy. We provide flexible general support that allows local groups to define and lead their own agendas. Fund grantees identify their priorities and approach and collaborate with program staff on defining measures of progress toward their intended outcomes.To us, participatory grant-making—which empowers affected communities to decide what and who to fund—is a further step in shifting power to grantees and movements.In 2019, the Fund partnered with Purposeful, a feminist movement-building hub for adolescent girls, to pilot a participatory grant-making initiative in Sierra Leone aimed at promoting youth leadership and amplifying the voices of young people.As our first foray into realizing the potential of participatory grant-making, this experience taught us many valuable lessons about how to foster genuine participation of children and young people.A targeted and intentional approach to reach a diverse group of children and youth is essential. This helps prevent a participatory process that only benefits young people in urban areas and those from higher socio-economic backgrounds.We also learned that true participation requires letting go of power while ensuring that young people have what they need to make meaningful and informed decisions. Support to child and youth-led groups should go beyond grant money to include a comprehensive package of grantee-led learning and accompaniment.The biggest lesson is about the need to be open and flexible throughout the process. Being willing to adapt as we went along allowed us to respond and make changes (almost) in real time. It also allowed us to learn from the young people about what it means to use your voice and make yourself heard in ways far beyond what we could have anticipated.

Decidiendo Juntos: Transferencia De Poder Y Recursos Mediante El Proceso Participativo De Otorgamiento De Donativos

December 4, 2019

En este documento titulado "Decidiendo juntos: Transferencia de poder y recursos mediante el proceso participativo de otorgamiento de donativos", examinamos por qué y cómo implementan los donantes la asignación participativa de donativos y transfieren el poder a las comunidades que reciben el impacto de sus decisiones de financiamiento. Con ejemplos y reflexiones de un grupo diverso de donantes, exploramos los beneficios, los desafíos y los modelos del enfoque participativo de financiamiento.

Girls to the Front: A Snapshot of Girl-led Organizing

October 11, 2018

The research used in-depth interviews and an online questionnaire, as well as an exhaustive desk review to collect data from girl-led groups and organisations, girl-centred organisations and the stakeholders that support them at different levels. This is an exciting opportunity to spotlight how girl-led organising takes place and how funders can provide flexible support that responds to the needs of girls and their organising. 

Plutocratic Philanthropy: Elite Influence in Philanthropic Foundations and Participatory Grantmakers

October 1, 2018

The modern version of the large philanthropic foundation found in the US and the UK emerged in the early 20th Century, but these have increased in size and ambition in recent years. Foundations such as the Gates Foundation offer wealthy elites an opportunity to perpetuate their influence, and thus are accused of enabling plutocratic philanthropy. The growing field of participatory grantmaking aims to address concerns about elite influence in traditional foundations by devolving decisions about philanthropic funding to those affected by the outcome of those decisions. In this research I develop a case study, based on 15 semi-structured interviews with people involved in both traditional foundations and participatory grantmakers, to understand articulations of participatory grantmaking and provide insight into how the approach differs in practice from traditional foundations. I find that inparticipatory grantmaking issues of power are foregrounded, and notions of legitimacy, agenda-setting, and accountability differ. Participatory grantmaking articulates activists as legitimate decision-makers, and unlike traditional foundations, where staff feel primary accountability to an unelected board, participatory grantmaking staff feel accountable to a broader movement. I discuss the broader implications of these findings for participatorygrantmaking as well as the use of participatory approaches in more traditional foundations. A two-page summary of the report can be found at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zpX7Ry7czcbvtcbzZDFcxZng3lzPR76S/view?usp=drive_open

How Community Philanthropy Shifts Power: What Donors Can Do to Help Make That Happen

April 17, 2018

While slogans like "think globally, act locally" have been around for decades, still so much decision making about philanthropy happens by stakeholders outside them. This paper intends to address the struggle funders face with giving up power, despite caring deeply about championing local leadership and initiatives. Learn about the "community philanthropy approach" and practical examples of how funders have shared and shifted power without losing sight of their strategic imperatives.

Good practices and lessons learned from the diverse funding modalities in the field of women’s rights and gender equality: the Dutch example

April 17, 2018

Dutch development cooperation policy has a long history of providing support for women's rights and gender equality worldwide. It has used a range of instruments for this purpose over the past several decades, at both central government and through its embassies. While funding priorities have changed over the years, some themes have been policy constants and are still part of the current focus. These include empowering women and strengthening their leadership, promoting women's economic participation (access to work) and political participation, and combating violence against women. These policies aim to bring about tangible changes and to enhance the rights and opportunities of women and girls in the Global South. Another constant is the use of a mix of instruments and programmes, both targeting specific activities and mainstreaming gender in other activities. At the same time, there have been shifts in the forms of support for  strengthening women's organisations, movements and networks. This paper will briefly discuss the modalities and instruments that have been used, the choices that have been made, and the lessons that have been learned.

Participatory Grantmaking: Has Its Time Come?

November 15, 2017

The Ford Foundation commissioned this paper to explore participatory approaches, especially participatory grantmaking, and their potential use by foundations. The paper synthesizes several existing participatory frameworks, identifies common components, and applies these to philanthropy as a "starter" framework that can, hopefully, be used as a springboard for ongoing discussion and development among grantmakers and non-grantmakers.

Change, Not Charity: The Story of the Funding Exchange - A Pioneer in Social Justice Philanthropy

January 25, 2017

This publication tells the story of the Funding Exchange, a pioneering national network of social justice foundations that was created in 1979 and operated for nearly 35 years before deciding to disband. Its purpose is to provide an honest exploration of the Funding Exchange's experience – the network's significant influence as well as the problems and internal strains that led to its eventual dissolution.The story offers lessons that have practical relevance for today's social justice activists and funders, philanthropy scholars, and foundation professionals.

Participatory Philanthropy

September 1, 2016

Using case studies as descriptive tools, this paper examines participatory philanthropy, it's pros and cons, and describes a range of models.

Monitoring and Evaluating Participatory Grantmaking

June 24, 2016

This paper discusses participatory grankmaking in a general context in terms of pros/cons and cost efficiency compared to other practices. It also discusses strategies and challenges associated with Baring Foundation's LGBTI initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa.