1. Learning together is key to success.
Funding for community organising is a long-term bet. It takes time to see impact and traditional measurement and evaluation approaches often do not apply. It thus requires a high degree of trust in the people and the process.
We heard from the Four Freedoms Fund that offering a place for organisers and funders to learn from each other and meet as equals is vital to building this trust. This leads to shared risk taking, strategy shifting and trustee engagement.
2. Growing the grassroots is how we transform civic power.
Reaching the groups closest to their communities is vital to transforming power.
This often means finding groups unseen by funders and unsupported by infrastructure. Intermediaries and funder collaboratives can build the community roots and in-house organising expertise to enable this.
For example, through their wide network of grassroots groups, People’s Action have built a thriving and authentic organising powerhouse.
By absorbing the risks associated with investing in smaller, unconstituted groups, collaboration also allows for more courageous and trusting funding than acting alone.
The result is stronger organisations, working better together, addressing major problems.
3. Sustainable and strategic resources help organisers flourish.
Effective organising requires people who have the time, energy and financial support to turn up year in and year out.
To grow, groups need assurances that they can hire, train and support leaders for the long-term. This requires flexible, multi-year investments in core-costs.
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has long argued that by pooling and targeting resources, funders can raise and give at the scale required for impact.
Without this, organisers are often trapped in a competitive cycle of applying for small, short-term grants. Or they are not supported at all.
4. 'Beyond the grant' support is critical
Lasting civic power, which endures beyond one campaign or election, relies on connections, commitment, and capacity.
Grassroots groups building the power of their communities are essential to democratic engagement. But this work becomes transformative when these same groups are supported to build and join wider infrastructure and movements.
Intermediaries and funder collaboratives can help to realise this by pooling back-end support and by creating vital network effects.
Community organising is by its nature a collective practice. It is effective because it brings communities together - at once, strengthening our bonds and building civic power.
It is therefore unsurprising that successful funding for organising also requires a collective approach.
As the wide range of innovative, inspired and thoughtful collaboration opportunities listed on the Funders Collaborative Hub makes clear - this is increasingly true, regardless of our aims as funders.
So the Civic Power Fund would love to hear from you, to trade lessons on collective action and discuss collaboration opportunities to strengthen our communities and our democracy.
To find out how you can get involved in the Civic Power Fund, visit its collaboration opportunity page on the Hub.