Fundamental Shifts for Effective Grassroots Grantmaking

Grassroots grantmaking often requires funders to shift how think about and approach work with grantees and community groups to shift how they think about their own work and the role of funders.

Shifts for Funders Shifts for Community Groups
From defining neighborhoods and residents by their needs to neighborhoods as communities of people who have resources. From blaming funders and other large institutions to taking a share of the responsibility.
From customer service and citizen participation to community empowerment. From thinking and acting like taxpayer to thinking and acting like citizens.
From “doing for” or paying others to “do for others” to never doing for communities what they can do for themselves. From waiting for others to do it better to taking initiative to doing what can be done better by the community.
From focusing on self-proclaimed leaders to opening the door for more leaders by rethinking approaches to networking and outreach, and offering leadership training. From working with a small group of like-minded people to making it a priority to build broad and inclusive participation.
From “deciding for” to delegating as many decisions as possible to community residents. From a defensive posture to a posture that recognizes the realities that funders and other large institutions must deal with to comply with regulations and policies.
From taking for granted to an active posture of recognizing and thanking community members who are effective partners. From taking for granted to an active posture of recognizing and thanking funders who are effective partners.
From expecting community groups to understand and interpret functional differences within your organization to recognizing the value of a more holistic approach to fostering change where the issues are not “siloed”. From expecting a funder to work with a community divided by factions to working collaboratively within the neighborhood and across neighborhoods.
From thinking that community members have little to offer without training to recognizing that community members have valuable expertise. From feeling skeptical about the value of the help and advice that a funder offers to recognizing that funders have valuable expertise to share.
From thinking that all neighborhoods function in similar manners to recognizing the unique character of different neighborhoods and cultures. From thinking of your neighborhood as the center of the picture to recognizing that your neighborhood is part of the big picture.
From bringing your own priorities to the tableto working hard not to distract a community from its own priorities. From believing that following the funders lead will result in funding to understanding that following the community’s lead will result in the change that you desire (and, in many cases, the financial support that you need).

Adapted from a presentation by Jim Diers, consultant and author of Neighborhood Power.


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