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. 

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.

Shifting Power And Resources To Grassroots Movements: Findings from consultations with activists and funders, July 2019

July 1, 2019

The question of how grassroots groups and activists based in the global south can mobilise adequate support to overcome the growing ecological, social, political and economic challenges they face and achieve positive change is a serious one that requires our attention. These groups face significant challenges in accessing key resources (financial and otherwise) to sustain their work.CIVICUS embarked on a consultation process to identify, in a participatory way, possible mechanisms that would increase the scale and quality of resources, both international and domestic, for groups and movements. Over the course of five months, we have had the privilege to learn from activists, organisers, young leaders and progressive funders from around the world about resourcing challenges, and to sense-check solutions and co-create scenarios based on lived experiences, bold ideas and deep understanding of social problems.This consultation is an attempt to move conversations forward at a practical level, exploring options that, pulled together, could help start a radical transformation in the range and quality of resources accessible to grassroots groups. As well as sense-checking the relevance, appeal and feasibility of emerging concepts, the process itself has been significant. These early explorations have directly engaged the groups that we seek to better resource, including a cross-section of grassroots activists, the financial arms of social movements and other strategic partners.

Smarter Grantmaking for Grantee Organizations: Conversations to Have with Funders

June 1, 2019

Funder grantmaking and learning practices are best when informed by grantee organization needs and experience. Yet, there are many factors that limit or even block this feedback loop.As funders, Transparency and Accountability Initiative (TAI) members recognize our responsibility to listen and respond to grantee questions and concerns, even when we are unable to provide the desired responses.We invite grantseekers to draw inspiration from this guide to seek clarity and advocate for potential needs with current and prospective funders.We hope the conversations highlighted in the guide will help you and your program officers continue to strengthen grantmaking and learning practices with your partners.

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.

How Youth-Led Grantmaking Benefits Young People, Their Communities, and the Philanthropic Sector

November 1, 2017

In this brief, we explore Youth Philanthropy as a model with the potential to make grantmaking more democratic, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of underserved communities. It is also a model that, if more widely supported and expanded, could contribute significantly to the preparation of sophisticated future grantmakers who share social justice values. This brief explores the landscape of youth philanthropy in the United States, providing concrete examples of best practices in youth philanthropy, particularly for teenagers. We review youth philanthropy's potential benefits for both communities and for young grantmakers themselves. We also offer recommendations to funders for how to best support youth philanthropy or how to expand and deepen their support for this growing practice. 

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.