Between infatuation and discomfort: funders and Community Based Organizations
This post started as my personal notes from the Grantmakers without Borders conference earlier this year where I was one of the speakers and had the privilege of getting to listen to and connect to great minds from the progressive funding movement. I’m choosing to post it in raw notes format because at this rate, I’ll never have the time to digest the notes into a more coherent form….
Between infatuation and discomfort: of funders and Community Based Organizations
Horizontal philanthropy–a reference to how the poor help each other–is strong across Africa. Indeed there are indications that orphaned children get 90 percent of their support from their community, including their extended families.
Horizontal philanthropy comes mostly in the form of Community Based organizations (CBOs) Indeed it is at the CBO level that the rubber meets the road for aid and development work.
At the same time, community-based organizations (CBOs) have not gotten the attention that they deserve. The dynamic between CBOs and funders is a two-edged sword:
On one hand there is the valorization of ‘scaling up’ and magnified impact means that many CBOs fall entirely by the wayside. At the same time there’s been a move among funders to fund the small projects and then continue their funding practices in ways that keep CBOs small.
Part of the challenge is of one of perceptions because larger funders never talk about how they carry out their work through community organization.
The language used to address community-based organizations is skewed because there is an amplified voice about the about lack of capacity at the CBO level yet rarely a celebration of their strength and impact. Another problem is that funders focus on urban spaces and fear to venture into rural spaces. According to one contributor to the conversation at GWOB, “Funders don’t recognize the civilization that is thriving in rural areas, yet they always want to build on civilization that already exists”. This preference for urban spaces fails to recognize the real contributions and potential of community-based organizations especially in rural areas.
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- Jane Wales: Metrics that Matter: Venture Philanthropy Pioneer and Aspen Philanthropy Group Draw Similar Conclusions (huffingtonpost.com)