What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• Mitch Nauffts explains why the Woods Fund took the risk of investing in grassroots organizations - only to find that investing in grassroots organizations isn't really risky.
• How can funders balance the need for due diligence with the need to reach grassroots organizations?
• Learn how funders sometimes frustrate grantseekers.
When one compares the value of an adult trauma center (not to mention a $25 million investment) for a community like the South Side with the $30,000 general operating support grants the Woods Fund has awarded to STOP annually since 2005, one quickly realizes that any risk for the funder is slight.
Yet many funders look at community organizing and advocacy as something too risky for them to support. Yes, strategies that seek to change systems and advance equity can create conflict and challenge powerful individuals and institutions, but they are also the drivers of the kinds of long-term solutions that philanthropy considers its raison d'être. Funders must always remember that the perceived risk of investing in systems change strategies led by marginalized people cannot compare to the actual physical, financial, and emotional risks of grassroots leaders.
Based on its record of impact, Woods Fund Chicago's rejection of the notion that investing in grassroots groups equals risk has served it well. Our advice to other funders? Don't be afraid to reframe your idea of risk and acknowledge that, sometimes, it goes hand in hand with movements and community organizing. Think about what you're willing and able to do to ensure that the communities in which you work are health and thriving. And remember: grassroots groups are just as committed to their neighborhoods and communities as you are, if not more so.
Read the full article about investing in grassroots organizations by Mitch Nauffts at Philanthropy News Digest.