Giving Compass’ Take:
• Atti Worku shares insights about power dynamics in philanthropy from the 2019 Skoll World Forum workshop Fighting for Fairness: Investing in Local Solutions.
• What steps are you taking to re-examine power dynamics in your own giving?
• Learn about developing healthy grantee relationships.
Imbalances exist in the power dynamics between funders and local leaders on the ground. But often discussions about equity and diversity only focus on visible power dynamics like racial and gender representation. Multiple dimensions of power shape imbalances in philanthropy. Visible, hidden, and invisible power dynamics must be addressed to find equitable solutions. These were reflected in our questions reflected these dynamics.
The dialogue in the room was spirited, honest, and profound. Engaged conversation ensued at round tables between funders and nonprofit leaders alike. Our prompts were designed to foster the kind of engaged exchange that can be rare.
- What are some barriers and challenges you face in finding a funder or a local partner?
- What can be done to make the funder and local organization’s relationship more effective and beneficial for both parties?
- How do you feel about the current feedback mechanisms in your partnerships?
And they listened to each other. We challenged the group to reflect on the power dynamics in their own relationships. We managed to make people think about how we can truly accelerate possibility through shared decision-making power.
When we moved to discussion on hidden power dynamics such as setting the rules on how and when to communicate, we learned that existing power dynamics unintentionally neglect the voices of local leaders.
One fascinating response echoed repeatedly: the funder “obsession” with scale. We heard that this often pressures leaders to focus on scaling instead of delivering the highest impact on the communities they serve, to the detriment of the beneficiaries and the organization in the long term.
Lastly, we reflected on invisible power and the internalized stereotypes that shape ideologies about the capabilities of leaders from developing countries.
Read the full article about power dynamics in philanthropy by Atti Worku at Skoll.
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