Change is a messy business

Jenny Hodgson

Responses to Michele Fugiel Gartner and Daniel Overall, ‘The trouble with transformation creep

Whether interventions come through the lens of philanthropy, humanitarianism or economic development, we risk losing much by judging all social initiatives against the standard of transformation.’

Michele Fugiel Gartner and Daniel Overall are spot on in their critical assessment of the ‘transformative change’ mantra.

From our perspective – supporting community foundations and other local philanthropic institutions globally – it’s clear that change is a messy, organic process, driven by the passion and determination of individuals, rather than something imposed from the desks of far-off foundations.

Small grants are the bread and butter of community foundations. It’s a trial and error (and sometimes hit and miss?) business, and precise outcomes are sometimes hard to quantify. But again and again we’ve seen how a scattering of funds can have a wider, catalytic effect on a community, stimulating a range of different activities which, when they bump up against each other, start to create a momentum for bottom-up change.

Elaborate, complex strategies have their place. But they should not obscure the importance of local initiative, local generosity, and the fact that transformation is rarely a linear process and can come about in the most unlikely and roundabout ways.

Jenny Hodgson
Executive director, Global Fund for Community Foundations

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