Giving Compass' Take:

• The Ford Foundation provides a framework for participatory grantmaking, a model that relies on engaging with communities and local leaders to understand their needs and assets. 

• Is participatory grantmaking the right choice for you? How can you best engage with grantees and potential grantees? 

• Learn about participatory grantmaking to shift power to communities

At the Ford Foundation, we know that having a genuine connection or access to the lived experience of the people we seek to serve is key to the success of our decisions, impact, and legitimacy. That’s why we have long supported efforts to improve philanthropic practice—in our own organization and the broader field—with a special emphasis on making it more equitable and inclusive and to achieve impact philanthropy.

Auspiciously, a growing number of foundations around the world are experimenting with new approaches to philanthropy—approaches focused on engaging people from outside their institutions in everything from setting priorities and developing strategies to sitting on foundations’ boards or advisory committees.

Has the time come for a broad swath of foundations, including national foundations like Ford, to take on participatory approaches, including grantmaking?

We think this approach is something more foundations, including our own, can and should consider. The paper reviews and synthesizes several frameworks about participation, and offers a simple “starter” framework for foundations to locate themselves at points along a continuum.