Giving Compass’ Take:
• Ericka Novotny explains the Arcus Foundation’s reflective practices for grantmaking in the international human rights context so that funders can make a positive impact through their donations.
• How can grantmakers adopt these practices? What are the consequences of failure to adopt these practices?
• Learn what happens when work is conducted without insight from communities.
When supporting social justice initiatives in countries where human rights are under threat, responsible grantmaking means taking additional steps to avoid putting grant recipients at risk. In keeping with the adage, “first do no harm,” the Arcus Foundation has implemented a self-reflective grantmaking program that involves grant recipients and stakeholders in its design.
In recent decades, grantmaking at the international level has, in many cases, become more difficult, restricted, and sometimes even dangerous for grant recipients as governments try to restrict foreign funds. In many regions of the world, government action is threatening the ability of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society organizations (CSOs) to support their constituencies or even to continue to operate. Constrictive legislation and policies are often intended to prevent foreign organizations or individuals from providing funding or other support to in-country charitable organizations whose existence threatens power structures and the status quo. These efforts to deny organizations the resources they need to survive has been part of a growing trend referred to as “closing space,” a growing form of oppression in numerous countries.
While we as funders cannot control or easily influence what governments do, we can educate ourselves about the realities of the communities we serve. Having a better understanding of what grantmaking-related risks exist can strengthen our relationships with grantee partners, which can lead to greater impact.
Marginalized populations around the world are fighting to protect their communities and often their own lives. Grantmakers need to understand that certain grantmaking practices can impose additional, undue risk on the organizations they serve. Managing risk is a shared responsibility. A deeper understanding of alternative ways to operate in tough situations comes with more opportunity for change. Researching, thinking creatively, and sharing information about new and different practices and approaches within the legal framework is critical.
Read the full article about reflective practice for grantmaking by Ericka Novotny at PEAK Insight Journal.
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