Grassroots Grantmaking

Money moves in mysterious ways in philanthropy, and we aren’t trying to create the final definition. Rather, we hope to put some language around concepts that are swirling around the halls of funder conferences and foundation board rooms.

We define grassroots grantmaking as funding practices that shift power to the grassroots. That includes a couple of different concepts – participatory grantmaking, participatory philanthropy, trust-based philanthropy, flow funding, feminist philanthropy, and more. These practices intersect; overall, grantmaking is an ethos that funders can embrace.

How common is grassroots grantmaking? Some foundations, like Rockefeller and Gates, still defiantly take a top-down approach. But one thing is clear: for the biggest players, the choice to make decisions from the top now demands an explanation.

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