Giving Compass' Take:

• Katie Boswell, writing for NPC, discusses how funders can rebalance power dynamics during COVID-19 and beyond by focusing on themselves, their grantees, and their goals. 

• How do your philanthropic goals address power? Are you examining these dynamics in your charitable giving?

• Read more about analyzing power dynamics in philanthropy. 

This blog was first published by A Better Way, a network of leaders who want to improve services and build stronger communities. A Better Way want systemic change for people and communities.

Ten years ago, I noticed an overnight difference in how people treated me. People were listening more, challenging me less and saying how great my ideas were. The reason was depressingly obvious. I had just crossed the floor from a grant-seeking role to a grant-making role. The fawning of those around me now I had the money meant I quickly realised I was experiencing the power imbalance at the heart of grant-making.

As NPC found in our seminar series about power dynamics last year—and as is echoed in A Better Way’s Call to Action—there is an unhealthy balance of power between funders, grantees and communities. A Better Way calls for the sector to ‘share power’ and ‘rewire funding’ to achieve systemic change for people and communities.

Whilst everyone has a role to play in rebalancing power, those with the most power must take the lead—and that means funders. Through talking with people across the sector, NPC explored what funders could do. We published our findings earlier this year in A rebalancing act: How funders can address power dynamics.

The following week, Covid-19 put Britain into lockdown. The response from funders shows how power dynamics can shift—but also how far we still have to go. Over 300 funders signed a statement coordinated by London Funders, committing to greater flexibility and listening to civil society groups. On the other hand, groups like Future Foundations UK called out the power dynamics still at play in relationships between funders and communities of colour, including a lack of trust and burdensome practices.

So, what can funders do to rebalance power dynamics during and beyond Covid-19? We’re encouraging funders to rebalance power at three levels: yourself, grantees and communities, and your goals.

Read the full article about funders rebalance power by Katie Boswell at NPC.