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What is participatory grantmaking?

July 19th, 2021

In this special series, we focus on participatory grantmaking, as we explore the Australian scene to provide some compelling case studies where the principles behind the practice have provided some new ways of tackling old problems.

Read the stories below.

Shifting the granting balance to change outcomes​: The catchcry to shift the power balance in grantmaking is simple: “Nothing about us without us.’’ But how far have we come in Australia with grantmaking that seeks to devolve philanthropy and enable new voices to be heard?

How a new grantmaking approach works: It might have been a conversational and unconventional approach to grantmaking, but it worked for Cool Australia when it engaged with AET to secure funding for a special project.

Listening to locals for better granting impacts: Emily Berry, CEO Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) and Johan Kortenhorst, NRCF Board Director, discuss how the organisation came to better understand the diverse range of issues affecting local communities and how they could support partner organisations to thrive during time of great need.

Case study: The why and how of participatory philanthropy in Our Town: The Our Town initiative aims to build the capabilities of people living in rural and regional South Australian towns to support each other in the face of mental health and wellbeing challenges. When talking about participatory philanthropy, we often spend all of our time on the why and very little on the how. Using the case study: The why and how of participatory philanthropy in Our Town, we will discuss a bit of the why, but really focus on the how and on what happened as a result.

The peer review program tackling disadvantage: The Paul Ramsay Foundation’s Peer to Peer Program, which is run in partnership with Philanthropy Australia, brought together 10 Australian NFPs to use problem-solving methodology to reduce disadvantage. The process, more fundamentally, also delivered some important insights into how this form of participatory grantmaking can shift the conventional dynamics of funding.

Resources and readings: We’ve collated a list of resources that discuss participatory grantmaking, in the interest of using these case studies as examples of what participatory grantmaking can look like in action and continuing the conversation around shifting practice to support meaningful outcomes. These resources are available for Philanthropy Australia members on the Better Giving Hub

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