Global Grassroots Grantmaking or...Can I really fund there?

Firelight Foundation will host a session at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference this year. Our session on International Grassroots Grantmaking is part of the Common Spaces...Beyond the Roundtable, a conference section that allows attendants to delve into the most pressing issues during a series of sessions led and selected by peers in the field. Most US‐based foundations have never made a grant beyond the borders of the United States. IRS regulations, selecting good partners, and monitoring and evaluation may all seem challenging. But it’s actually quite feasible, and leads to impressive results. Five experienced grantmaking organizations are coming together for a “Common Space” session on April 11 at the Council on Foundations conference in Philadelphia, focused on the particular topic of global grassroots grantmaking.

Grassroots grantmaking reaches deep into communities in far corners of the world, investing in local solutions in places that are often rural, isolated, excluded and ignored. Working this way, even with small grants, has big impact on social change, community leadership, and civil society. What's more, it is proven, cost effective and you can track results.

Firelight Foundation, Global Fund for Children, Global Greengrants Fund, Global Fund for Women, and American Jewish World Service ‐ will discuss the rationale for grassroots grantmaking, how a foundation can get started, how to monitor and assess this work, and how to situate it in the range of other funding flows.

Each of these grantmakers has a pivotal story that reminds them how grassroots grantmaking makes big impact, whether it’s the immediacy of local actors to respond in disasters like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the resiliency of community‐based organizations to continue to operate in the highest rate of inflation the world has ever seen in Zimbabwe, or the resource building to allow children forced into military action to return to school and take steps out of poverty in Burundi. These grantmakers have seen the impact of grassroots grants. They know what’s possible and what works.

With a collective eight decades of global grassroots grantmaking experience, these organizations will share their answers to three questions that drive them.

• What is it really about, what theories of change underlie global grassroots grantmaking?

• What is good practice in making cross‐border grants and what makes it work on the receiving side, for grassroots organizations?

• Lastly, we know small grants make a big difference to small organizations, but how can small grants be leveraged for large‐scale change?

Are there questions you’d like to see us raise at this session? Mention them here and we’ll do our best to answer.

We’ll let you know what response we received after the conference.