A quarterly collection of inspiring reads, listens, and updates dedicated to children’s rights, youth-led change, and grassroots power. At Global Fund for Children, we’re excited to have you join us here for a more playful approach to explore new questions, ideas, and practices that shift power to create a future where all children and youth are safe, strong, and valued.
What are ways to shift power when exploring new grantee relationships?
Global Fund for Children (GFC) believes creating equitable partnerships with community-based organizations around the world begins even before a grant is made. GFC is committed to partner-centered grantmaking, and the GFC team recently reflected on its scouting and selection process, creating an internal guide for exploring new partnerships. Along the way, we identified the following core principles to build trust and shift power throughout the process:
Reach organizations where they are: GFC aims to reach the children and young people who are the most excluded in their societies by funding the community-based groups who work with them. These groups are not the easiest to find or visit. When possible, we travel extensively to local communities to get to know organizations that are often overlooked because they might lack a web presence, formal registration, a fiscal sponsor, or a previous institutional donor.
Value community leadership: Rather than look for organizations that are “successful” according to traditional NGO/funder definitions, we prioritize the groups who are most accountable to their communities and who are engaging young people in decision-making.
Do the homework: We learn as much about prospective partners as we can before we reach out. This responsibility is a core principle of trust-based philanthropy that saves community-based organizations valuable time and enables GFC to build rapport.
Practice contextualized safeguarding: We seek to understand safeguarding priorities in local contexts to keep children, young people, and their communities safe. We do not try to import safeguarding practices that are not locally designed and understood.
Build authentic connections: We want to understand what makes the heart of an organization and its people tick. We connect based on our shared purpose and listen authentically to individual and collective journeys. We share our own journey as an organization to establish a strong, trusting relationship.
Facilitate a two-way partnership: We encourage prospective partners to ask lots of questions to determine how our partnership model aligns with their goals and values. GFC is transparent about commitments like reporting, safeguarding, and convenings.
Say no with care: We are intentional about when, how, and why we say no to a prospective partner. We recognize their experience and expertise and aim to identify other opportunities, including adding them to our roster of potential future partners.
Reflect and learn: We share stories about our scouting journeys with our colleagues. These crucial reflections help us recognize our biases and strengthen our efforts to honor diverse histories, cultures, and visions for change. Insights from each new process exploring prospective partnerships enrich our guiding principles and practices.
The challenges civil society faces are increasingly complex, requiring a systems approach to tackle problems across issues and communities. Networks, with their power to increase the flow of ideas and resources, are a powerful way to break out of isolation and create new opportunities for collaboration at scale. Throughout its initiatives, GFC is creating spaces for community-based partners in shared environments with common goals to build trust and strengthen their connections. These processes not only lead to moments for shared learning, but also to new collaborations that emerge organically. This year, we took a deep dive to explore all things networks. Here are some of the resources we most appreciated:
Network Weaver Handbook – An extensive practical guide for new or existing networks developed by network weaver June Holley, who is also the founder of NetworkWeaver.com. It contains nearly 400 pages of insights, case studies, and activities on topics ranging from strategy to relationships to evaluation. It is well worth the cost of $20 to access the PDF.
In October, we launched the Spark Fund for youth-led social change with youth panelists ages 20 to 28 designing every aspect of the first call for applications in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. In December, the panel reviewed more than 100 applications and voted on more than ten new grantee partners who will receive core, flexible funding over the next two years. With our biggest leap yet into participatory grantmaking, here are some of the key questions emerging in the design process:
How do we balance building momentum with leaving time for relationship-building in a volunteer grantmaking process? What is the ideal time commitment for youth volunteers?
How much of our grantmaking and partnership model should we share with young people without unduly influencing their design decisions?
How can we collaborate with youth to strengthen trust in grantmaking to shift power when panelists may be drawn to traditional models they’ve seen before?
How can we continue to ensure participatory grantmaking is a meaningful opportunity for young people that recognizes their time and contributions?
As this Spark Fund pilot continues, we are excited to learn with the youth panelists whose experiences will shape adaptations to upcoming youth design panels in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Stay tuned for more insights!
Youth-led organizations from around the world are challenging funders and INGOs to trust youth. In the new We Trust You(th) Initiative, funders can commit to building more equitable partnerships with young people and receive support in a problem-solving community. GFC and our Youth Leadership Council were #inspired to participate. We hope you will too! Learn more and sign up for updates here.
Last but not least. . .
As we continue to navigate remote work, we are finding ways to stay connected by embracing our inner children, centering wellbeing, and creating moments of play. Here are some questions you can explore with your team to tap into your inner child:
Questions to connect our inner children:
What’s something you loved as a child that you still enjoy today? How did that love form and how does it nurture you in the present?
What’s a random question you’re curious about? Get out your seemingly silly and random “why” questions and explore the answers together.
What was a magical place for you as a child? Take us there with an imaginative description.
Who is someone who had a positive influence in your life growing up? Share a moment of gratitude toward that impactful individual.
How did you get the “spark” for social change and develop social consciousness as a young person? What led you to take action?
Xanthe Tunley-Stainton, GFC’s Team Support Assistant in the UK, shares her reflections on the first regional panel for the Spark Fund, an initiative to support youth-led social change worldwide. Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas
One of the things that makes GFC unique is the way we find and connect with the community-based organizations that become our partners. In this blog post, Rodrigo Barraza García explains GFC's approach to scouting. The Americas
GFC does not support local offices or affiliates of international organizations, or efforts to support or oppose candidates for public office. We do not support evangelism or proselytizing, or programs that require adherence to or conversion to religious doctrine; organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation; or groups that support violent activities or violate criminal law.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.