Meta’s Community Team On Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Fund Human Connection

Some funders may hesitate to fund individual community leaders who lack or are just starting a formal nonprofit associated with their work. But Aldo Aguirre, Global Program Lead for Meta’s Facebook Community Accelerator program, makes a strong case for providing funds to those closest to their community’s problems. Hear from his experience supporting community leaders in partnership with GlobalGiving.

Aldo Aguirre

Global Program Lead At Meta

Who He Is:

Since 2018, Aldo has supported community leaders around the globe through his work and leadership of the Facebook Community Accelerator (FCA) program. Aldo came to Meta from the entrepreneurial tech space, where he focused on creating start-up communities in different markets that work with entrepreneurs. Now on Meta’s Community Partnerships team, Aldo’s focus has broadened to community leaders that range from bike riders supporting disaster recovery to fathers supporting one another. What Aldo admires most about community leaders is their ability to bring people together, solve problems, and create joy, which he says is contagious.

Q: You’ve shared that you love how the Facebook Community Accelerator (FCA) program reaches community leaders who may have never received a grant before. Why do you think these community leaders have been previously locked out of funding?

A: For community leaders that are moving into the next phase of their growth, there may be thought that there is a lack of output and outcomes. Sometimes someone just needs to pay for the pizza, meaning fund the meetings and collective space for community leaders to engage with their community and identify problems and ideate on solutions.

As a funder, you may need to report on an outcome as a part of your strategy. But we underestimate the power of human connection and what that means for people and organizations—it can be the trigger for great things to happen in the future.

Q: You’ve named measuring impact as a barrier to funding community-led change—how would you encourage funders to think differently about outputs and outcomes?

A: Re-evaluate the timeframe of evaluation. It’s not bad to want to quantify the impact of funding, but you might be evaluating the wrong thing and within the wrong timeframe. For example, if you are funding a workshop for a community leader’s initiative, the impact doesn’t stop when the workshop is over. If you don’t have a strategy to measure the mid-term and long-term impact, you will miss the actual value.

And you need to know what you are measuring. When funding community leaders, it’s OK if you are looking for measuring outputs that are more intangible, like introductions, conversations started, connections between new individuals, or general changes in sentiment and perception of connectedness.

There’s a beautiful side to community building, which brings joy to people’s lives. We all need to find space for joy as humans.

Q: Given that you are now in your fourth year with the FCA program, I imagine you’ve learned some lessons along the way from your interactions with community leaders. Can you share your top three learnings?

A: No matter their initiative, community leaders across the globe share a commonality of needs: educational and emotional support, strategy development, and then, of course, access to funds to help their ideas take off.

The need for human connection is a constant, no matter what issue or opportunity a community leader is tackling. Community leaders need space to be understood, share their needs, and have a space for support.

Passion is everything—teams and mission continue to be the core ingredient for success, no matter how success is measured. Community leaders who are passionate, who are committed to their community and their work, will thrive.

Q: Pretend I’m a funder. Why should I support local community leaders closest to the problems in their community?

A: There are certain problems in the world that our institutions are not solving and opportunities they are not utilizing. However, there are community leaders who understand community leading is a catalyst for change.

Communities know what needs changing—there’s power in people coming together to make change on their own. Community leaders support the connections, rally people together, and keep up the momentum needed for change to occur.

And, ultimately, there’s a responsibility of those that benefit from the work of community leaders to support them in their efforts.

Featured Photo: Give People with Mental Health Conditions a Voice by She Writes Woman Mental Health Initiative

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