GlobalGiving is on a mission to accelerate community-led change. And the first step is ensuring we’re community led ourselves.
Being community led is more about a “how” than it is a “who.” This was one of the findings from our first round of participatory research to understand “community-led change.” As we sought to find ways to better identify, support, and fund community-led organizations, we thought we’d need to start by finding the most community-led among our nonprofit partners.
But the community members and community leaders leading the research said no. They developed a great community led-ness self-assessment tool, and then they asked us not to rate and score nonprofits based on their answers and tie the scoring to incentives in our marketplace. As we dug in even deeper, we learned that the best way we could support community-led initiatives was to start by becoming more community led ourselves.
Based on these years of research, we’ve worked with nonprofit leaders to develop five commitments to becoming more community led. They are:
1. We will share power and co-create solutions.
We will build mutual trust and respect in a way that both acknowledges and seeks to diminish power imbalances. We’ll honor existing knowledge, assets, expertise, and traditions in the communities where we work. We’ll cultivate community ownership and trust, and co-create products, services, and experiences to address all stakeholder needs.
2. We will listen and be responsive.
We will develop a more robust practice of listening to all stakeholders, especially the people most affected by our work. We’ll be curious and willing to learn. We’ll be flexible and proactive in tailoring activities in order to meet diverse and evolving needs.
3. We will foster deeper relationships and invite our partnerships to transform us.
We will build and strengthen relationships based on humility, mutual accountability, care, trust, and solidarity. We’ll promote healing, not judgment. Our engagement will expose each of us to different ideas, choices, resources, and experiences. We’ll invite shifts in mindsets, power, capacity, and confidence. We’ll grow together, recognizing our interdependence.
4. We will be transparent, reliable, and accountable partners.
We will follow through on our commitments and be accountable when we mess up. We’ll offer clear communication with regular and easy access to relevant, timely information about the what, when, why, and how of our work.
5. We will identify and eliminate barriers.
We’ll remove barriers that have prevented the full participation of historically marginalized groups and strive to provide fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement. We’ll work to transform inequitable systems in philanthropy, and, when facing unjust systems that we alone can’t change, we’ll use our power, access, and funding to help achieve more equitable outcomes for all communities.
As we continue to test out ways of sharing power and building transformative relationships, we expect we’ll learn even more about equitable and inclusive ways to meet our mission: transforming aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change.
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Featured Photo: Free education for 300 children in rural Cambodia by Globalteer