As in almost every conference, the juiciest conversations and exchanges take place during coffee breaks and small groups discussions. People feel freer and more creative in informal settings.
During the two vibrant days attending the ‘Pathways to power’ symposium in London I tried my best to listen people’s insights in this complicated but necessary relationship between funders and civil society.
So, I decided to organise our thoughts and frustrations and created a wishful thinking list with the most relevant and repeated issues I have heard.
- Boycott funders who talk instead of listening and dialogue.
- Avoid funders who tell you what you have to do and want to control your organization.
- Ally with funders that support lasting social change rather than 1/2 year projects.
- Work with funders that promote and understand the social value of community driven development through grassroots philanthropy.
- Choose funders that believe in local people competences and skills for local mobilization towards social change.
- Prioritize funders who believe that women and social movements are key for long lasting social change and strengthening democracy.
- Make sure that your funders understand that the south includes Latin America.
- Pick funders who move away from one size fits all solutions and push their own agenda.
- Choose funders who honor a model that results in power sharing and trust by different people of the ecosystem.
- Avoid funders who don’t respond to your proposals and or take very long months to reply.
After putting together the list I asked myself if these funders existed. I am sure they do but most of them were not present at the symposium.
How to move from the exception to the rule? Perhaps having a common vision and honoring certain principles and behavior models of power sharing.
If you are an activist of a civil society organisation I wish you good luck in honoring these principles, knowing that is going to be difficult to raise the funds you need.
If you are a funder and you think that you agree with at least five points in the list, let’s talk!
Florencia Roitstein is Director of ELLAS-Women & Philanthropy, Argentina