As funders continue to respond in new ways to the social and racial inequities exacerbated by the pandemic, one thing remains clear: To best support underfunded communities, donors must challenge the inequities inherent in traditional philanthropy and adopt more equitable approaches, including collaborative funding and participatory grantmaking models. 

Collaborative funding can effectively address inequities by simplifying the grantmaking process, quickly moving a diverse set of resources to underfunded communities, and maximizing giving impact and shared learning. For grassroots and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations that may be limited in time and resources, collaborative funding helps keep grantseekers from having to apply to multiple opportunities. In addition to joining forces around a shared vision, collaborative funds often incorporate other grantmaking approaches that center directly affected individuals, such as participatory grantmaking — the practice of ceding grantmaking power to people with direct, lived experiences, who are closest to the issues.

An increasing number of funders are adopting both of these approaches to address systemic injustices that have been magnified by the COVID-19 health crisis: 

Food Land and Justice Fund. Recently launched by Liberated Capital (in partnership with Jubilee Justice and New Communities), the Food and Land Justice Fund will redistribute $1 million to BIPOC-led efforts for food and land justice and sovereignty in the U.S. The fund will also center affected communities in the grantmaking process by organizing an advisory group of BIPOC leaders in the sector to evaluate submitted proposals. This inclusion of participatory grantmaking ensures that people with direct, lived experience have decision-making power in who and what receives critical funding.

Amplify Fund. This collaborative fund from the Neighborhood Funders Group supports BIPOC and low-income communities to build power and influence decision-making in the places they live and work. In the eight locations the collaborative serves (Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and California), Amplify Fund incorporates participatory grantmaking in their approach by following the guidance of local advisors and the wisdom of those with lived experience to develop context-specific strategies. 

HouseUS. The nation’s housing crisis, which disproportionately affects communities of color, has also been intensified by the pandemic. HouseUS, a collaborative fund working to build and support the national movement for housing justice, supports base building, movement infrastructure, and federal campaign work to demand systemic change. HouseUS is building power and momentum towards bold federal action on housing by 2024, supporting tenant organizing across the country and challenging the role of corporations and private equity firms in commodifying housing. In addressing the root causes of housing inequality, HouseUS centers those who have experienced housing insecurity in the grantmaking process so they can directly shape the way their communities build a better future.

In order to streamline the grantmaking process and move critical resources to underfunded communities – especially during these unpredictable times – collaborative funds may adopt simplified solutions such as a common application. Applying for funding is tedious and expensive, and a common application allows historically excluded groups to spend precious time on mission-advancing work vs. time applying for funding. At JustFund, our common proposal allows nonprofits to share their needs with all members of the collaborative at once, and allows funders to see which organizations are receiving funding, and at what levels. 

As you look to equitable grantmaking solutions in the new year, consider ways to challenge the unjust systems often present in traditional philanthropy and adopt more grantmaking approaches rooted in equity, trust, and transparency. Learn more about participatory grantmaking and collaborative funding and how JustFund can support you with both. If you’re a grantmaker seeking to center equity in your grantmaking, we invite you to request a JustFund demo today.