Giving Compass' Take:

• Joshua Aaron Murphy lays out three ways for funders and organizations to increase their impact by democratizing philanthropy and empowering stakeholders. 

• How can your donations better serve underprivileged communities? Are enough stakeholders represented at meetings and planning sessions? 

• Learn how to involve community members through feedback

Philanthropy has also moved heavily towards the use of data to understand, measure, and prove impact. It’s incredibly important to use data to maximize your impact, but we cannot lose sight of the people behind the data points. The decisions we make matter; the programs we choose to fund — or not — help or hurt real people. We can’t forget about the human stories of struggle and strife that show us what it means to move from poverty to opportunity, from hopelessness to optimism. Stories of empowerment, perseverance, and justice are critical to building the movements and coalitions that bring about lasting change. Philanthropy can help community organizations build their own internal systems for measuring impact AND increase their capacity to understand the human elements of community change through powerful storytelling and movement building.

What can philanthropy do differently today?

1. Think more deeply about cause and effect: The desire to improve the lives of millions of people is noble. However, it’s also important for funders to think deeply about the potential negative and positive implications of an initiative on the intended beneficiaries and their larger community. Funders should not be the ones creating rigid, prescriptive mandates in communities where they’ve had no long-term connection.

2. Create spaces for community building: Everyone wants to drive impact, but the best way truly to do that is to bring people from diverse sectors together to focus on a single challenge.

3. Increase funding of organizational capacity: Setting overly mandated, lofty goals isn’t the job of a funder, it’s the job of the implementing partner or organization on the ground. They will have the contextual knowledge, the teams, the policies, and the systems in place to actively drive that change and how best to engage with and leverage partner organizations to realize impact. If they need additional support to build those teams and organizational capacity, that’s where a funder can play a positive and influential role to create large-scale social change.

Read the full article about democratizing philanthropy by Joshua Aaron Murphy at Medium.