This week CIVICUS’ Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah gave “Five reasons donors give for not funding local NGOs directly” on the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network. In response, I offered “Five reasons funding should go directly to local NGOs.”
Luckily I see a growing number of small NGOs and foundations (though still not enough) that are specializing in direct funding to grassroots leaders, locally-led organizations, and small, often “informal” movements. I’m sharing a list of those that I know below.
These funders create broad guidelines, focus areas, and selection criteria to respond to what local leaders and stakeholders view as important. The funding mechanisms they create often consist of small grants, long-term grants, and general operating support, otherwise known flexible funding that an organization can determine for itself how to use – whether it be keeping the lights on or piloting a new project.
As the role of grassroots leadership and initiatives as key drivers of social change enters the development discourse in a more profound and imperative way, international small grantmakers’ experience and wisdom are an untapped resource that has increasing relevance for the sector as a whole. When compared with “old-school” donor-controlled, large-scale, risk-averse project-based international aid funding, small and direct grants mechanisms exhibit a profound shift in attitude and practice in working with impoverished and marginalized communities – from being passive recipients to active leaders of their own development.
Here are three questions for anyone working in any kind of global development organization:
- Are donors and INGOs really interested in supporting local civil society to become more mature, autonomous, networked, and able to manage funds without their permanent presence?
- What’s needed to incentivize the “risk-taking” needed on the part of donors of all sorts to get more money to the ground, quicker than ever before?
- What are the best kinds of funding mechanisms that will increase grassroots organizations’ responsiveness and resourcefulness, rather than distract them from their constituencies with undue administrative and reporting burdens?
International Small Grantmakers in the Development Sector
(Small grants are defined as approximately <US$25,000 that are given directly to locally- and community-based NGOs.)
Click on each for a link to their website and please add other funders you know in the comments section!
Fondo Accion Solidaria (FASOL), Mexico
The Foundation for Civil Society, Tanzania
Independent Development Fund, Uganda
KIOS - Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights
…and hopefully more to come!
Related Posts (there’s a lot of them!)