WHY PARTICIPATORY GRANT MAKING?
There is no one right way to practice participatory grant making. In the case of VidaAfrolatina, participatory grant making is a process by which collective funding decisions are made by the organizations that apply for our grants. These Afro-descendant women-led groups read each other’s proposals and score them using a rubric based on selection criteria they co-created. It is not only logical, but also ethical and effective for those that understand the issues being addressed, and their contexts, best to guide funding decisions.
“At its core, this approach to funding cedes decision-making power
about grants to the very communities impacted by funding decisions.”
In traditional philanthropy, the power to allocate funding commonly resides completely with foundation staff who too often have little knowledge of the place, community, culture or problem of the movements and organizations that receive grants. This can result in ineffective or even harmful funding decisions and practices.
“It turns the traditional approach of philanthropy on its head by recognising
the communities we aim to serve as the experts on their own reality...”
Women’s funds like FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund, Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres and Fondo Semillas are among the contemporary proponents of participatory grant making. They understand that the grassroots organizations addressing issues in local communities understand better than anyone the problems they face, the social and political context in which those problems exist, and the solutions that work.
Women’s Funding Network:
“It is a bottoms-up, grassroots approach to funding that helps to dismantle the
economic inequalities baked into the culture of philanthropy. Participatory grantmaking
is inherently feminist and ensures that disenfranchised people not only have a seat at
the table, they get to help set the table and decide what’s on the menu.”
At VidaAfrolatina, we believe that grant making will have the greatest impact if the communities impacted by funding decisions are integrally involved in the process. Without investment in Afro-descendant women’s solutions for their own communities, the structural, intersectional issues that perpetuate sexual violence and many other issues that uniquely impact them will continue on largely unabated and ignored. Afro-descendant women must have autonomy and power over their own lives. They must be trusted to guide funding decisions for their transformative work.