Giving Compass' Take:

• Grassroots Fund provides a practical guide to shifting power, highlighting five main components that are essential to the process. 

• Can these practices improve your philanthropic efforts? How can you begin to shift power immediately? 

• Learn more about participatory grantmaking.

Many guides for grassroots organizers start from the assumption that the problem and solution have already been identified and will not change. We believe that shifting power begins with identifying who has the opportunity or clout to define the problem and craft its solution. Using lessons and recommendations from grassroots groups in New England, this assessment is meant as a tool for ongoing reflection, rather than a checklist of good or bad actions. We will continue to be engaged in conversation with grassroots groups about how this report is impacting projects in our region, and update this report as such.

Five Components of Shifting Power

In order to evaluate the extent to which groups are working to shift power, we have defined five components for groups to reflect on as they determine what measures of shifting power are accessible to them in the short and long term.

The first two components, Community-Based & Community as Decision-Makers, are based on the belief that solutions should be steered by grassroots community involvement, rather than top-down “expertise.” The following three components (Participation of Marginalized Groups, Accountability & Conflict Protocols, and Transparency and Feedback Processes) are emphasized with the understanding that community-based groups may still exclude and marginalize community voices and uphold systemic bias.

These components are elaborated on in the proceeding pages. Following these definitions are questions that groups can use to reflect together on how these values and practices can or do show up in their work. It is our belief that being “community-based” means consistently checking in on how we are doing across these components. The Grassroots Fund will develop these questions further into curriculum and activities to aid this reflection process and identify next steps. In particular, in 2020 we are committing to creating spaces, both virtual and face-to-face, across the region to continue to dig in and co-create these practices.