Small is Beautiful…Grants, That Is (Part 2)

Thanks to probing, concrete questions from Maryline Penedo, moderator of a virtual discussion on aid effectiveness from a gender perspective sponsored by UN-WOMEN at the end of last year, I was able to better share my experience of alternative small grant mechanisms that directly support community groups. From the inside in, it’s often difficult to describe your own experience, but Maryline helped me to elaborate on the approach used by a family foundation I worked with for many years that was crafting an alternative to business as usual in the aid and philanthropic sectors. I’m gratefully utilizing her questions to create a Q & A format in the second of two posts (see Part 1 here) that attempt to answer the important questions posed by fellow blogger, Dave Algoso, “So what’s that look like? And who, if anyone, has done this well?”


Q: Could you be more explicit about what you mean by “minimum accountability requirements” necessary [to lower the barrier for local organizations to benefit from funding]?

A: The foundation’s proposal and reporting formats were specifically formulated to break down language and conceptual barriers that often serve to exclude community-based organizations from more typical funding mechanisms.  For example, rather than having to provide abstract objectives and a logframe, organizations were straightforwardly asked to respond to about ten questions such as “What are you trying to achieve?” and “What do you plan to do in this proposal to bring about these changes?” At the reporting stage, the same occurred with such questions as “What were you able to achieve?” and “How do you know if you are making progress on your goals?” Every attempt was made to de-technicalize development jargon and offer questions that were easy to translate in local languages, including financial reporting...


Read the full article, including a list of international small grantmkers, at:


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Tags: NGOs, UN-Women, accountability, aid, alternatives, applications, assistance, building, capacity, civil, More…community, community-based, development, effectiveness, evaluation, foreign, funding, grants, grassroots, international, leadership, local, microgrants, movements, organizations, ownership, participation, small, social, society, sovereignty


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Comment by Eric SHIMA on January 14, 2011 at 4:38am
It is exciting to read about how to reach out the poor people while planning foreign aid effectiveness. I am really touched by how some hearts go on questioning themselves and reflecting on what they do to see extent to which they are more or less important for human beings. The originality of the topic and even the content are just overwhelming and push to wonder whether I love the poor people or not. There are many ways of seeking the divine purity; reaching out the poor people in our daily initiatives with honesty like this one I read in "Small is Beautiful...Grants, That IS" is one of them, provided that the consciousness of devoting it the glory of God is there. Unfortunately this last step often lacks and Satan enters to occupy the place the Holy Spirit left. And then desolation accompanies “good” initiatives along the project cycle. Think about it.
May God keep you from sinning to inherit its Eternal Kingdom

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