Shift the Power

In 2016, the Global Fund for Community Foundations launched #ShiftThePower. The movement was founded because it was felt that for too long, the role of community-led institutions – community foundations, grassroots grantmakers, women’s funds, social entrepreneurs – had been overlooked by most of mainstream philanthropy and development organisations.

Shift the Power strives for a more equal way of cooperation. A movement that replaces top-down with ‘people-led development’ in which people determine for themselves what is important to them. After all, they are the ones that matter!

This also counts for the relationship between Southern organisations and international NGOs and donors. More Southern power is not only the right thing to do, but also leads to more relevance of the results of the collaboration.

Does this mean that international NGOs no longer have a say? No, that’s not the case. Shift the Power is about working together between partners who are equal, find each other on a shared ambition, commit themselves and work on the basis of complementarity. That implies recognising that each partner adds value to the partnership. And this goes beyond funding: it includes contextual knowledge, relations, networks, access to governments, assets that are more vested in southern and community-led organisations. They know the agenda of their communities. Power then no longer is power over others, but power with others to achieve more together.

Joint Purpose sees a great need to translate this into concrete actions and practices. We need to get beyond good intentions. This can be done in many ways, by different practices of decision-making, changing fund allocation systems, supporting participatory and local resource mobilization, reducing bureaucracy, redesigning policy and strategy, introducing flexible and long-term financing, peer reviews, truly participatory planning and monitoring, experimenting with innovation funds, by organizing decision-making differently, and the list can be longer. Let us take the step and get going!