Participatory grantmaking: rethinking our role as funder

Participatory grantmaking: rethinking our role as funder

Over the past decade, we have worked with and learnt from a multitude of funders and partners about participatory grantmaking. Handing over grantmaking responsibility has forced us to look critically at our role as a funder. This has resulted in communities co-deciding on all our funding decisions forming a cornerstone of our 2022-2025 strategy. We believe this is how we can shift decision-making power to those people who matter most.

Why Participatory Grantmaking?

First and foremost, because communities know better than us what works for them. But participatory grantmaking is about more than effective grant-making: it also creates a paradigm shift in how we work alongside communities.

In participatory grantmaking, money is only a piece of the story. The process itself is part of the impact. Enabling the community and their self-determination is as meaningful as the resources they receive. Community members know best what works and what doesn’t. They have a deep understanding of how issues and solutions intersect, and likely they have witnessed past attempts to make a change. Using a participatory model means that their expertise will shape your program. This will not only help you improve your strategies, but it will also guarantee that you receive frank criticism regarding the effectiveness of your efforts.

How does it work?

There are different models for sharing decision-making power with communities, some with more power shifting than others. There is no right way to do this, but it depends on the project, context and communities that it serves. Participatory grantmaking is an approach that centers the community being served where community members help design and drive projects. They are also included in setting goals, making decisions about how to allocate resources, and evaluating impact. Aidsfonds also uses other approaches like co-creation and equal give and take partnerships, depending on what works best in any given project.

PGM model Aidsfonds PGM model Aidsfonds

Based on learning from hosting the Robert Carr Fund which channels funds pooled from major global HIV funders, and from partners within the Love Alliance, Aidsfonds serves as interim grantmaker for Southern Africa within the Alliance. We do this via a participatory mechanism (see above visual) where key populations have a central role in decision-making about the funding. Working with regional grantmakers across other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Love Alliance plans to allocate € 38,8 million euros by 2025 via participatory grantmaking to support community organisations in their work to break down barriers faced by key populations. So far, the Alliance has supported 129 grantees from 8 different countries in Africa.

Based on learning from hosting the Robert Carr Fund which channels funds pooled from major global HIV funders, and on learning from partners within the Love Alliance, Aidsfonds serves as interim grantmaker for Southern Africa within the Alliance. We do this via a participatory mechanism (see the visual on the right) where key populations have a central role in decision-making about the funding. Working with regional grantmakers across other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, the Love Alliance plans to allocate € 38,8 million euros by 2025 via participatory grantmaking to support community organisations in their work to break down barriers faced by key populations. So far, the Alliance has supported 129 grantees from 8 different countries in Africa.

In line with our commitment to have communities co-decide on all funding by 2025, we are currently developing participatory grantmaking mechanisms also within other programs, including within an upcoming fund targeting the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.

Circle PMG Circle PMG

What's next? Join us for Participatory Grantmaking!

We are committed to using our dual role as a fundraiser and funder to collect and share our own learning and connect experiences from grantees and funders alike to further advance the participatory grantmaking agenda.

Are you interested in finding out more or do you have evidence and learning to share with us?

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