When we think about the ways that philanthropy has worked historically, what we’ve heard from and shared with young activists during the Pro-action Cafe (a community space for open conversations about the practice of resourcing girls and young feminists in crises), we have a clear conclusion: we must change how we meaningfully connect with each other if we are to build and sustain mutual trust.

In the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, compounded with multiple crises, we hold with appreciation the ways in which we began to question the structures around us which have allowed us to do the ‘impossible’ – centering trust and agility, welcoming flexibility, and decreasing what was considered a must (such as tedious applications and reports). In figuring out our new world, we have proven that we can change things for the better. What if this became the norm?

As we all hold certain tensions and discomforts, we acknowledge that there are a few things we could do differently.

Current opportunities

Activist Centeredness: The saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. As both of us have gathered different experiences in life, we’ve realized that this saying, in so many ways, can be a box that’s quite exclusive and lonely.

Boldness: Both our cultures have rich folklore that teaches courage and boldness despite the imminent danger of speaking up. As activists, advocates, and program implementers, it was scary to be bold and say exactly what we needed.

Intentional grantmaking: As Dani Priscariu shared, young feminist activists are the experts of their environment and context. ‘To truly support their brave and resilient work, we must do it in ways that meet the urgency of what they are facing (such as systemic oppression, the rise of persecution due to their identities and work, global pandemic, and erupting crises).

Deeper explorations

Trust-building as an act of collective care: We know there is a glaring under-investment in both young feminist organizing and in collective care efforts.

Leveraging the inherent privilege of philanthropy by embracing risk: Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic and multiple ongoing crises for philanthropy to be willing to take more risks.

Normalising mistakes: In our ProAction Cafe community, young feminist activists shared that groups fear sharing challenges and mistakes with funders because it may lead to an end or decrease in funding.

Read the full article about young feminists by Purity Kagwiria and Juliana Vélez Uribe at Alliance Magazine.