Giving Compass' Take:
- Here is a brief overview of participatory grantmaking from practitioners in the field with experience on how to best center community needs in the process.
- How can individual donors tailor their practices to resemble participatory grantmaking strategies?
- Learn about the role of participatory grantmaking in philanthropy.
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Participatory grantmaking (PGM) may be a new trend in philanthropy, but participatory and community-driven giving practices have been around since the beginning of time. From Indigenous understanding of how gift money behaves in a community to the mutual aid networks of Black communities in the US, there is a lot for philanthropy to learn from those who have been systematically excluded from it.
Movement leaders have long critiqued a “nonprofit industrial complex” for “blunting political goals to satisfy government and foundation mandates.” With the rise of billionaire philanthropy today, more and more people are questioning the logic of allowing those who extracted the most wealth from the economy being the ones to decide how to distribute it.
As a practitioner of participatory grantmaking for 10 years, I have been thrilled to see the conversation turn from a trickle into a stream, and I offer this information to those on the journey of embedding community governance into their decision-making. The work is an ongoing practice of naming power dynamics, embedding equity, ensuring transparency, and for those with privilege and power, letting go.
There are many ways that PGM programs come to be and identifying their origins can be helpful to understand the power dynamics that might be in play. The following are three ways I’ve seen PGM practices emerge:
- Activist-driven – movement leaders in the field self-organize to identify funding needs and then advocate and organize funders to meet those needs (examples: Bay Rising, BIPOC Food Justice Leaders, Disability Rights Fund)
- Co-creation with donors and activists – donors and activists work together to create participatory processes and structures (examples: Fund Action, Edge Fund, Funding Exchange)
- Donor and funder staff driven – donors and/or staff at funding organizations create participatory processes or embed participatory processes in existing programs (examples: Leaders with Lived Experience Programme, Shared Gifting)
Read the full article about participatory grantmaking by Kelley Buhles at Nonprofit Quarterly.