Giving Compass' Take:

• The author reflects on NPC's Power Dynamics in Grant-Making sessions, and discusses three topics: Funding applications and agreements, endowments, and feedback.

• Although this post serves as a reference for grantmakers, individual donors can make use of the information. For example, feedback is a vital practice because cultivating relationships with organizations can drive greater impact.

• Read about managing power and privilege in philanthropy. 

Working for charitable funders in the past has provided me with some of the happiest and most fulfilling experiences of my career.  I remain an avid supporter and advocate for the work that they do.  However, in the last one to two years, there have been moments when the rose-tinted glasses have been thrown to one side, accompanied with very mixed feelings… feelings that maybe funders aren’t always the ‘good guys’?

NPC’s sessions on Power Dynamics in Grant-Making are exactly the kind of conversations the sector needs. In the two sessions I went to, many agreed that the sector needs to change and improve.  The big question that I’ve been thinking about since the sessions is: Does the charitable funding sector, as a whole, stand ready and able to share power? Bearing in mind there is a word limit for this blog, I think I can distil my thinking on this to the following – ‘No’.

Okay, perhaps that’s not enough detail, here’s some of my thinking:

  1. Funding applications and agreements. Charitable funders should be asking if they really live the values or demands they seek from others.
  2. Endowments. The origins of endowments and how they’re invested needs more thought, especially in terms of the power imbalance they represent.
  3. Feedback. I know of a few charitable funders who are creating safe and brave spaces in which applicants can share their feedback in a risk-free and meaningful way – confident in the knowledge that it is being acted upon. But why is this currently the exception, rather than the norm?

So where does all this leave us? It’s clear that there is a growing movement of funders within the sector committed to transparency and shifting power more equally amongst their stakeholders.

Read the full article about changing power dynamics for funders by Sufina Ahmad at NPC.