Giving Compass' Take: 

• Smart Risks is a book about the importance of small grants and the impact they have on grantees and funders. 

• Do you think that the grantee-funder relationship changes depending on the size of the grants? Do you see philanthropy embracing this approach of  'smart risk- small grant' mindset?

• In terms of new grant strategies, read more about how creative funding has helped nonprofit organizations. 

A smart risk is investing relatively small amounts of money in effective, visionary grassroots leaders, organizations, and movements.

Smart Risks builds on the dynamism, self-determination, ingenuity, and voluntary resources that community groups are able to generate. A “smart risks” approach to grantmaking puts power back in the hands of marginalized people and communities.

The organizations featured in the book, Smart Risks: How small grants are helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, have varying approaches — from word-of-mouth recommendations to formal, open, and publicized Request for Proposals. The accompanying due diligence processes are crucial for identifying groups that are embedded in the community (not just paying lip service on paper).

The search for evidence (or proof that what we’re doing is making a difference) has become ingrained in almost every aspect of grantseekers’ and grantmakers’ day-to-day work. Embracing uncertainty can allow local solutions to emerge that fall outside strict M&E frameworks. Taking smart risks requires appropriate levels of monitoring and reporting that are commensurate to the resources invested, as well as a system for flagging issues early on.

Frankly, grantmakers can afford to define “success” differently when there’s less money at stake. Relatively small grants allow for learning and failure as a natural — and even expected — part of how leaders, communities, organizations, and movements evolve.

Almost every organization working internationally is led by values that uphold partnership and seek to address power imbalances. The reality of institutional life and donor requirements often impede the ability of individuals within those organizations to suggest new ideas or ask questions that highlight where efforts fall short.

Read the full article about smart risks by Jennifer Lentfer at Medium.