We heard a number of different perspectives from funders, changemakers and charities on these questions through events, blogs and conversations. Perhaps what really stuck with us is how we need to move away from the idea that it is up to funders to decide what and when to share power with communities, towards understanding how to act in solidarity with communities. This sentiment was recently echoed in a case study (published by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research) of Lloyds Bank Foundation’s move to unrestricted funding which involved the board shifting “deliberations about performance to conversations about partnership”.
Working in solidarity requires ongoing work and commitment, it’s not a one-off opportunity for funders to give up some of the power they hold in deciding who, what and how civil society is supported. At a workshop we hosted, in partnership with the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, we heard that “working in solidarity means acknowledging the power we have and using it intentionally to address power imbalances. We need to think more deeply about power. Power is complex, and our failure to understand it is tripping us up”.
For more insights from our learning programme on power, check out:
- Learnings from the discussion we had with NCVO, Civic Power Fund and The Social Change Agency about funders' role in empowering charities and communities to campaign for change
- The lessons Civic Power Fund shared with us when it comes to designing a funding programme that supports grassroots groups to build power & win systemic change
- Our interview with Funders for Race Equality Alliance covering what we as funders need to unlearn about power and more
- What we took away from our workshop hosted together with Sheila McKechnie Foundation, which focused on how funders can address some of the systemic challenges around power