What is Giving Compass?
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Giving Compass' Take:
• Richard Marker explains some of the political and practical challenges that can impede effective participatory grantmaking.
• How can funders overcome these barriers to effective participatory grantmaking?
• Learn more about participatory grantmaking.
As our field has finally recognized, our race and ethnicity [and to a slightly lesser extent, our gender] does not always reflect those we are serving or funding. And, unless we are funding elite schools and museums, it is certainly true that our economic status is far removed from the at-risk or at-need populations we aim to serve. It is surely a no-brainer that there are perspectives that need to be in the room and a long overdue corrective to the all too pervasive top down process.
But whose room, what roles, which decisions are far from clear. Should or must decision making extend to the board room? Do potential grantees have a disqualifying conflict of interest if they are also decision makers? And, bottom line, empowerment aside, how do we know that who is in the room actually guarantees greater impact? Therein lies the challenge.
These are difficult questions to ask these days for several reasons:
- At a time when all questions, yes even in our field, are viewed as political, even asking this question runs the risk of implying that I am opposed to “participatory grantmaking.”
- A more practical challenge is determining which stakeholders should be invited into the room.
- A more far reaching question is what impact matters. Often in the most intractable systemic issues, funders can have perspectives that local service deliverers cannot have.
- Underneath all of this is the question of the larger role of independent voluntary philanthropy in an open society.
Whether intentionally or not, we have a long history of not treating our potential grantees as we should and knowing how to understand real needs and equity in making our decisions. Participatory Grantmaking is surely one of the correctives we should make to is to bring stakeholders into the funding process. As we see, even with the best of intentions, that approach is often easier articulated than implemented.
Read the full article about challenges of participatory grantmaking by Richard Marker at Wise Philanthropy.