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Writings By Community Members

a cloud of pgm related words

A word about language.

The phrase “Participatory Grantmaking” is not perfect. It’s both hard to say and difficult to spell. There are limitations, and there are numerous definitions and overlapping concepts. And yet, it is the term and concept that unites this community of practice. It has sufficient and growing recognition in the field of philanthropy.

We should have a continuous debate and discussion about where it is and isn’t fit for purpose. Language is messy, political, important and ever evolving. Within this community of practice we want to recognise and name that.

At its core, this approach is about shifting power from institutions and groups that have traditionally held it to those who have not. We believe philanthropy should and can be better. In fact, many of us believe it shouldn’t have to exist at all. We want to continuously challenge and evolve our thinking and practice.

There are many terms that link to, overlap with, complement, or at some point might supersede participatory grantmaking: Community-led philanthropy, participatory philanthropy, trust-based philanthropy, and even progressive taxation. We acknowledge these various and overlapping concepts, and we do not believe one approach is better than others. We seek more collaboration with practitioners in these practices.

We do not want to advance the term “participatory grantmaking” as a kind of marketing / branding competition.  At one level, we worry that identifying ourselves as practitioners of ‘participatory grantmaking’ will isolate and silo our work rather than build bridges amongst like minded practitioners.

We aim to move the sector towards more equitable grant making practices that redistribute power and decision making. We do this through practice based inquiry and shared learning. We hope that the varied definitions or frames do not get in the way of the possibility of this moment, rather, may we find the threads of connection that weave our collective transformation.

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