Participatory grantmaking - Wikipedia

MyWikiBiz, Author Your Legacy — Wednesday July 17, 2024
Jump to navigationJump to search

Participatory grantmaking is a funding practice in which members of the population the funds are to serve are included in the evaluation or decision-making process. It stands in contrast to traditional grantmaking, wherein only the representatives of the funding source (e.g. a charitable foundation's staff or board) make decisions. The practice was pioneered in the early 1970s by the Funding Exchange, a North American grantmaker network,[1] and has been slowly gaining adoption, mostly among funders of activism, community organizing, and social justice.[2] The term "participatory grantmaking," nonexistent as of 2008,[3] has been promoted in later years by a firm named "Lafayette Practice", which produced a report in 2014 and then conducted a study for the Wikimedia Foundation which found in 2015 that the same Wikimedia Foundation was the largest "Participatory Grantmaking" fund,[4] after a Wikipedia article about the concept was authored by Wikimedia Foundation employees[5] who used as the main source the 2014 report (see references below).

The practice

Many forms of participation and levels of inclusion are found in different models of participatory grantmaking. The common thread is that the funding body is not making decisions without some participation from those affected by the programmatic work the grant is funding.

Examples of forms of participation include strategic advisory committees (steering committees, budget planning committees); tactical advisory committees (evaluating specific grant proposals) levels; invited observers; and community consultations (online or in person).

Levels of inclusion can range from including the board or staff of the grantee organization, through including grantee programmatic staff and volunteers, to including individuals from the affected communities, or even (rarely) the general public (by making the process itself public).[6]

As of early 2014, some international funders practicing participatory grantmaking are: Global Green Grants, Edge Fund,[7] Central American Women’s Fund,[8] Disability Rights Fund; FRIDA; GMT Initiative; HIV Young Leaders Fund; International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), HIV Collaborative Fund, Red Umbrella Fund, Robert Carr Networks Fund, and UHAI - the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative.[9]

Perceived benefits

The perceived benefits of participatory grantmaking are both moral and pragmatic benefits:

The fact of being participatory itself is both a moral and pragmatic benefit, in that it brings into philanthropic and non-profit decision-making different groups, many of which would not have otherwise had access to the circles in which decisions are traditionally made, due to oppression, marginalization, lack of physical access, et cetera.

While many funders want to see evidence that an applicant has consulted the community they work with, far fewer involve the community or applicants themselves in setting their priorities or deciding who actually receives funding. The next step is actually putting decisions into the hands of those you seek to help.


—Sophie Pritchard, Power sharing in philanthropy[7]

For example, in the Red Umbrella Fund, a funding program aiming "to strengthen and ensure the sustainability of the sex worker rights movement",[10] 80% of the advisory panel identifies as current or former sex workers.[11]

I think the difficulty of policy officers and programming people working in isolation is possibly why so much sex worker funding is channelled into bad programming. This is how most proposals are determined, in offices far removed from the grassroots and the populations they serve. Proposals that are technically perfect can contain holes, in particular the potential for human rights violations against sex workers that are invisible to the untrained or inexperienced eye.


—Tracey Tully, Nothing About Us Without Us[12]

Participatory grantmaking contributes to grantmaker flexibility—in that changes in local context are quicker to propagate and more effectively voiced to the funders.[13]

Transparency born of participatory grantmaking helps existing and prospective grantees better understand the process, the considerations, and the outcomes, of their proposal's evaluation by the funder. In the traditional model, applicants would have no visibility into anything that happened between submitting their application and receiving a positive or negative (or partial) funding decision; even after the decision, it could be difficuly to understand how and why a particular funding decision (even if positive) was made.[14] Transparency of funding discussions and considerations toward the affected communities is also considered "a democratic practices".[14]

The wider context afforded by more inclusive participation encourages more strategic thinking about movement building, which is the context many of the current practitioners of participatory grantmaking are operating in. The wider participation mitigates against undue bias by personal tendencies or sympathies, and is a force for movement-wide accountability by the funding body.[15]

Morally, the inclusion of people to be served or protected in discussions on whether and how to do so is intuitively appropriate and fair, and aligns with the Nothing About Us Without Us notion, made popular in the work of the disability rights movement.

Such inclusion is also perceived by some to be ensuring "that grants are allocated to those most deserving".[16]

Finally, participatory grantmaking typically also involves a high degree of capacity building, paying special attention to obstacles preventing communities and local groups from engaging more effectively either with the issues or with the grant process itself. Some participatory grantmakers are committed to a dialogue-based approach to grant proposals (as distinct from the traditional "submit, wait, get final answer" approach), with iterative development of proposals toward a compelling proposal, before a decision is made.[17]

Challenges and shortcomings

One salient challenge in participatory grantmaking is navigating issues of conflict of interest. Local and community participants may find themselves in ethically or socially awkward situations when faced with strategic or concrete decision making involving groups or individuals with whom they have relationships that can amount to a conflict of interest.[18]

Achieving adequate participation often entails significant investment of time and coordination, facilitation of large group conversations, often requiring international flights. Additional effort is required to make documentation available in multiple languages, as well as to accept documentation (both proposals and feedback) in different languages.[19][20]

See also


  1. ^ Hart 2014, p. 8.
  2. ^ Hart 2014, p. 10.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Hart 2014, p. 15.
  7. ^ a b <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>Pritchard, Sophie (2014). "Power sharing in philanthropy". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  8. ^ <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>Horn, Jessica (2013). "Gender and Social Movements Overview Report" (PDF). BRIDGE. Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  9. ^ Hart 2014, p. 4.
  10. ^ <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"About the Red Umbrella Fund". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  11. ^ Hart 2014, p. 18.
  12. ^ <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>van der Linde, Nadia (2014). "Nothing about us, without us: reversing the power dynamics of philanthropy | openDemocracy". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  13. ^ Hart 2014, p. 16.
  14. ^ a b Hart 2014, p. 17.
  15. ^ Hart 2014, p. 22.
  16. ^ <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Who Decides". Association for Women's Rights in Development.
  17. ^ Hart 2014, p. 26.
  18. ^ Hart 2014, p. 30.
  19. ^ Hart 2014, p. 21.
  20. ^ Hart 2014, p. 34-35.