How do we ensure that global philanthropy is not causing more harm? As a white woman in the US, working for gender justice in India, the key was discovering how my own power and privilege were getting in the way of our path to decolonization.

When I was hired at Shadhika, a nonprofit working with women-led grassroots organizations in India, I joined the team as a Program Officer. I was a privileged white woman from the US, managing a scholarship program for young women in India. I had a decade of experience managing youth programs in Denver, Colorado, and was eager to start a new chapter, utilizing my master’s degree in international development. I had always felt passionate about helping youth and felt this was a perfect opportunity.

Within the first two months at Shadhika, I flew to India for the first time. As much as it was exciting to visit each partner and scholar, I realized that I had a lot to learn. When decisions needed to be made about programmatic recommendations or changes, I struggled to know what to say or do. I could tell stories of the program to donors and supporters, but when questions arose about what was best for the young women, I did not have the answers. The burden fell on our partners and my colleagues, whom I leaned on for support.

A year into my role at Shadhika, we hired a new Executive Director, My Lo Cook, who redefined the vision of Shadhika’s work, centering around a feminist and decolonizing core.

As our team spent time reflecting on the foundation of our work and how to move the needle for gender justice in India, we had tough conversations with our partners, staff, and board about the power we hold as a funder and how we can deconstruct this.

Read the full article about decolonizing global philanthropy by Kendra Nicolai at Community-Centric Fundraising.