The Edge Fund started life as a question: might it be possible to give a lump sum to activists and have them decide how to distribute it without any interference from the original donors? Five meetings later, with input from over 50 participants representing issues including racism, climate change, mining, Palestine, migrants, disability, Travellers, corporate power, Occupy and LGBTQ, we have almost got a fully-fledged fund on our hands.
From the beginning the Edge Fund’s main aim, along with living social justice values by devolving the power of donors, has been to support those challenging and creating alternatives to the systems that create imbalances in wealth and power, and the oppression and environmental destruction this brings. This includes those directly experiencing discrimination and injustice because of their class, ability, gender, race, sexual orientation or other factors.
While the main aim has not changed, there have been some changes. We have agreed that we want donors involved in the decision-making: they have a lot to give and to learn, as we all do. So we will create a membership body consisting of people who both give and hope to receive funding, where all members, as equals, decide who receives funding. Everyone will put something into the fund, even if they cannot afford to donate much, and we will all share responsibility.
We have discussed at length how we can overcome some of the challenges of philanthropy. We want to give groups the opportunity to apply in a way that suits them, without having to pitch themselves to match complex funding criteria. We want to find ways of sharing reporting responsibilities by building close relationships with grantees. We will offer funding that is flexible and not necessarily tied to specific projects. Crucially, we want to reach out beyond the usual networks to make funding accessible to those who need it most. We aim to help bring together groups to facilitate networking and learning.
There are still some major questions to be answered and challenges to overcome. But we have great ambitions for the Edge Fund. We want to be pioneering and to have the courage to try a range of different approaches.
For more information
Contact coordinator Sophie Pritchard at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://edgefund.org.uk