29 August 2023
5 things grassroots activists want donors and allies to know
Grassroots activists and groups are driving powerful change in their communities and countries, but the support they need to keep going strong isn’t living up to their needs. As part of the Grassroots Solidarity Revolution, we consulted 140 grassroots activists who shared the challenges they face in accessing support from donors and allies and what they need to feel truly nurtured and supported in order to continue their important work.
Here we summarise what these organisers from across 45 countries want donors and allies around the world to know about understanding grassroots realities and the type of support, resources and allyship they need.
1. Most grassroots activists can’t access the resources and opportunities you offer.
Almost 78% of the survey respondents said that they had requested donor funding in the last two years, but 66% of them did not receive any resources. Interestingly, most grassroots respondents applied to institutional donors which, according to the survey, are the ones with less likelihood, in proportion, of awarding grants to grassroots groups, activists and movements, even though they are often subject to less regulatory oversight.
This is not only demotivating but shows that most activists and groups are investing time and resources they already lack in an unsuccessful quest for funds and support. Perhaps it is time to invest in approaches that will unlock the flow of resources to grassroots groups.
What are the main barriers these groups face when looking for funding opportunities and resources? Here are some clues: 46% of respondents said that the search process itself was the main barrier they experience. Another 19% had difficulty finding donors that support the “less traditional” ways of working of grassroots activists and communities, and 15% mentioned that writing project and funding proposals was their main obstacle to accessing funds.
This means that donors and allies could do something to ease around 80% of the barriers listed by these activists and organisations! For example, you could make the information about your funding and support opportunities more accessible to grassroots groups. You could also help strengthen the skills of local change makers to write those (excessively) challenging funding proposals and reports. And what about building strategies that break down the culture of competition and foster a culture of collaboration and cooperation? Donors and allies can play a critical role in promoting collaboration by incentivising and rewarding collaborative efforts and providing resources to support partnership-building initiatives.