Calls are growing for funders to open up their decision-making and share power with communities – the latest high-profile call among them coming from a piece by Gara LaMarche in the Nation.

Participatory grantmaking is an approach that hands over decision-making power about grants to those impacted by the grants, and when done well, it can bring equity practice into our work as grantmakers. Because the impacts of COVID-19 are disproportionately experienced by people who are often left out of decision-making, it’s critical for philanthropy to make this change now.

To support philanthropy organizations seeking to manage participatory grantmaking remotely, we share three challenges that they might face when doing participatory grantmaking online and offer recommendations for addressing them. These recommendations will be most useful for facilitators managing programs.

  1. Communication: Making connections doesn’t always feel natural online.
  2. Engagement: When asking people to engage online, we must fight habits around passively consuming information online and dividing attention across platforms or devices.
  3. Technology: We have all experienced painful technical challenges, especially with ensuring every participant on a video call can be seen and heard.

Moving to a fully online approach creates opportunities as well. You may be able to include people in your participatory grantmaking process who would not have been able to attend in-person meetings. It may be more possible and even more affordable to take participatory grantmaking beyond the local level when working online. And finally, you will be able to accommodate a different range of communication styles and preferences. Many opportunities for creativity and joy will emerge as you adapt your participatory grantmaking approach to a fully online environment.

Read the full article about moving participatory grantmaking online by Katy Love at Alliance Magazine.