Giving Compass' Take:

Ras J. Baraka and Myung Lee explain how micro-philanthropy that is led by cities can help spur economic growth and development.

 Are there opportunities in your city to implement micro-philanthropy practices?

Read about how micro-grants are helping college students.

In their 2017 book The New Localism, Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak make the case that we're at the beginning of a new era: one in which cities and counties must take the lead on new strategies to address pressing social and economic challenges.

But if they hope to be successful, city leaders cannot take on this burden alone: they need to unleash the collective power of their communities. The good news is that a growing number of cities are finding that supporting communities in small ways — for instance, with microgrants — can deliver outsized impact.

The power of small grants to drive change has not been lost on city leaders, many of whom are embracing the potential of micro-philanthropy — and pairing it with a citizen-led ecosystem that supports the effective implementation of those grants. In Newark, we've taken these lessons to heart and are eager to share some of what we've learned about how small grants can help lay a foundation for improved social and economic mobility.

  • First, cities need help in creating the infrastructure that will ensure success.
  • Second, cities need to learn from others who are working to get individuals involved in similar ways.
  • Third, cities need to create opportunities for continued collaboration in order to reap the longer-term benefits of micro-philanthropy.

Cities have a unique opportunity to drive big returns on investment from small grants. A citizen-led microgrant program allows for a more accurate identification of the challenges that people in the community want to see addressed.

Engaging community members in this way can create long-tail benefits such as increased social cohesion and civic engagement that can be channeled into other community needs. When these three pieces — microgrants, technical assistance, and human connections — come together, the impact is greater than the sum of its parts.

Read the full article about micro-philanthropy by Ras J. Baraka and Myung Lee at Philanthropy News Digest.