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Writings By Community Members

How can we keep people safe in participatory grant-making?

How can we keep people safe in participatory grant-making?
Power. Who has it? How do they keep it? How do they use it for good or ill? Who
is denied access to it? How can we share it more equitably?

There appears to be an increasing awareness amongst grantmakers of power
dynamics and a willingness to confront these questions created. Much is about
how they leverage their funding to confront inequalities in power. However, it
has also focused on how grantmakers themselves challenge power relations and
work in ways that protects the dignity of those affected and deliver their work.
Questions about power have contributed to the growth of participatory practices
in grantmaking. The increasing commitment to open traditional grant-making to
those affected by its decision-making, enabling a place at a table to be heard or
increasing control over the resources distributed. However, such processes can
lead to new risks of harm to be navigated. How can we ensure that those
involved in grantmaking are not harmed? How can we best manage the risks of
them harming others?

Similarly, these questions have led charities to examine how people have been
exposed to harm or felt unsafe through their work. There are growing
expectations on grantmakers to not just deliver a public benefit but to always act
in the public interest. A growing regulatory regime requires them to protect
everyone connected to charities from harm and abuse. In response,
organisations are developing policies, procedures and practices which aim to
reduce risks of harm. How can these be applied in a genuinely participatory and
power-sharing process? What is working in how safeguarding in grantmakers is
done with people, not done to them?

The growth of participatory grantmaking and safeguarding in charities may have
often been in parallel. Yet, both aspects of the grant-making community are
grappling with common issues of inequalities of power. There are overlaps in the
values they seek to engender and the change they seek in our sector.
To find practical answers to these common questions, the Participatory Grant
Making Community and the Funder Safeguarding Collaborative are coming
together to develop new guidance for everyone involved in embedding
safeguarding in participatory grant-making. We are looking to pool our shared
expertise and experience to inform advice on how practitioners can consider
safeguarding in the planning, delivery, and review of participatory grant-making

To ensure that this is rooted in the experiences of what is happening, what is
working and what has been learnt, we want to hear the views of the Participatory
Grant Making Community. We will be holding workshops which create
opportunities to share opinions and gather advice to amplify this learning more
widely. If you are involved in managing risks of harm in participatory
grantmaking we want to hear what has worked well, what advice you would give
others and what areas you want further advice on.

We are also seeking to hear directly from community members involved in
decision-making. What have been their experiences of participatory
grantmaking, and what have organisations done to reduce risks of harm? What
more could have been done? What advice would they offer to others getting
involved for the first time?

To help us develop best practise to protect people in participatory grantmaking,
you can register online by 1 st July 2022 . We will run a series of participatory
workshops for experienced grant makers and decision makers and distil key
lessons into guidance to be published this autumn.

Tom Burke is UK Regional Advisor at the Funder Safeguarding Collaborative,
which promotes collaboration, listening, and learning among funders and
organizations to support and strengthen safeguarding practices globally.

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