Giving Compass’ Take:
• This Johnson Center post examines power dynamics in the social change sector and inverting traditional notions on who should wield it: We must put community voices first.
• Action items discussed include practicing humility and making sure there’s plenty of room for equity at your table. What would be the measurements of success in these areas?
Does change come from the bottom up or top down?
The simple answer is both — it often happens when there is collective leadership creating pressure on the outside of an institution, and allies inside the institution or with the power to influence the institution leveraging that pressure to create change. These two groups of leaders, however, are very different. As our social, political, economic, and media bubbles move further apart and become less porous, creating linkages among them has become more challenging. We must understand the dynamics that allow bottom-up and top-down to work together: the need for people to believe in their ability to lead and the need for leaders in positions of traditional power to share or give up power. Two new books offer important insights on how power has often operated and how it might operate more inclusively.
First we must understand and encourage bottom-up leadership. Six years ago, I wrote Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up to share my lessons from twenty years developing more than 5,000 diverse young leaders across the United States through Public Allies. We saw a teen mother in community college eventually become a White House lawyer, a deli worker become a top disability rights advocate, a shoe salesman become a top public health leader at a major hospital.
We learned through hundreds of stories like these that leadership is a muscle everyone has, and that like any other muscle it can be developed with practice and exercise.
Read the full article about sharing power in philanthropy by Paul Schmitz at johnsoncenter.org.
Learning and benchmarking are key steps towards becoming an impact giver. If you are interested in giving with impact on Impact Philanthropy take a look at these selections from Giving Compass.
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