As the Black Lives Matter movement has grown to the largest social movement in US history, funders are being forced to reckon with the origins of their wealth—with deep roots in extraction and inequality that continue to the present day. But they are also being called to examine how institutional practices deepen inequality instead of dismantling it: From arduous application processes to repetitive reporting requirements, business as usual in the funding world feels more about maintaining control than sharing it. To address this painful history, and implement policies based on trust and equity, philanthropists must give up power in decisions around funding deployment. Inclusive decision making can have more inclusive and powerful results.

For all the attention paid to diversity in board and executive leadership, and in who receives grants, another fundamental area of racial justice in the funding world is ripe for exploration: Who has decision making power over where capital flows? In a poll of over 200 funders who attended a webinar that Common Future and Dalberg co-convened on shifting power, 23 percent said who has decision-making power over funding is one of the main priority areas that funders need to change to advance racial justice.

As funders seek to shift power, below are several strategies we have employed, including how to address barriers that may arise. We view sharing power as critical not just for this moment, but also for building a future rooted in the understanding that our fates are tied and that inclusion makes all of our work better off in the long run:

  • Deploy peer-review strategies (and pay the reviewers)
  • Solicit and implement community feedback on your strategy
  • Co-create reporting processes to ensure that grantee voices are central to the determination of outcomes
  • Consider your investment strategy alongside your grantmaking strategy

Read the full article about KEYWORD by Rodney Foxworth & Marcus Haymon at Stanford Social Innovation Review.