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Shifting Power and Resources to Grassroots Movements: Findings from consultations with activists and funders

Publications Grantmaking Principles Power Sharing & Shifting


The question of how grassroots groups and activists based in the global south can mobilise adequate support to overcome the growing ecological, social, political and economic challenges they face and achieve positive change is a serious one that requires our attention. These groups face significant challenges in accessing key resources (financial and otherwise) to sustain their work.

In recent years, progressive funders and civil society platforms have explored different resourcing strategies and modalities that better support smaller, less formal groups to continue their work and amplify their positive impact, especially at the local level. Feminist funds and community philanthropy organisations have long been at the forefront of this effort, but there is a lot more that could be done to fill important resourcing gaps across movements and geographies. There is a struggle to identify practical and innovative resourcing tools for grassroots actors beyond the traditional development aid framework. There is also a lack of methods to bring innovative approaches to fruition.

In response to this challenge, CIVICUS embarked on a consultation process to identify, in a participatory way, possible mechanisms that would increase the scale and quality of resources, both international and domestic, for these groups and movements. Over the course of five months, we have had the privilege to learn from activists, organisers, young leaders and progressive funders from around the world about resourcing challenges, and to sensecheck solutions and co-create scenarios based on lived experiences, bold ideas and deep understanding of social problems.

This consultation is an attempt to move conversations forward at a practical level, exploring options that, pulled together, could help
start a radical transformation in the range and quality of resources accessible to grassroots groups. As well as sense-checking the relevance, appeal and feasibility of emerging concepts, the process itself has been significant. These early explorations have directly engaged the groups that we seek to better resource, including a cross-section of grassroots activists, the financial arms of social movements and other strategic partners.

This document is a distillation of our findings and learnings.

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