The Secret Ingredient for Profitable Participatory Choice-Making in Philanthropy


Elevate your hand should you’ve ever had a foul expertise working with a bunch of individuals to decide. Most of us have. Possibly it was a piece activity power, a faculty committee, or members of the family. And issues go fallacious: roles aren’t clear, timelines lengthen, or individuals disagree.

Most teams of individuals don’t self-manage effectively. Group decision-making is very fraught, maybe as a result of it brings up problems with energy and management. It usually takes readability of roles and purview and even some construction to do this.

In our years of speaking to workers, boards, and communities about participatory philanthropy, individuals usually speak about their worst participatory decision-making experiences. That emerges as a motive for basis management to keep away from working with a bunch of individuals, particularly exterior of the hierarchy of management that the muse has with its personal workers. 

Nonetheless, we really feel strongly that that is the fallacious conclusion to attract. Group decision-making doesn’t should be a tough, lengthy, and painful expertise. It might as an alternative be that one thing—or fairly, somebody—is lacking from the method.

New to Participatory Grantmaking? Try the weblog put up Grantmaking: What’s Participation Bought to Do with It?

Facilitation: The Secret Sauce of Participatory Processes

Particularly in terms of participatory decision-making, we consider {that a} expert facilitator is important.

The position of strategic facilitation of decision-making in participatory philanthropy is commonly unrecognized and underappreciated.

Why? Facilitators have many superpowers, and like superheroes, lots of these powers could also be invisible to others. These embrace so-called “tender expertise” which might be process-oriented; they serve to carry individuals collectively in significant methods, join individuals to their very own experience and to one another, maintain house for change, and extra. However these “tender expertise” usually are not magic. They’re usually accompanied by tried-and-true methods.

Facilitation: Not Merely an Artwork

Facilitators know the best way to assist a bunch to give you shared agreements for partaking, and the best way to assist them keep true to these agreements. They work to create room for variations of opinion and even battle. They know when to be playful and when to ask the group to pause. These facilitators determine bias and assuredly name the group’s consideration to it. They know the best way to create inclusive and accessible environments that honor everybody’s participation wants. In addition they faucet into the humanities – and connections to our our bodies and the pure world—to spark transformative and generative areas.

There’s a giant and numerous toolkit that expert facilitators use to deal with each stage of a participatory decision-making course of, from preparation to dialogue to speaking selections to stakeholders. Let’s face it—high-stakes conferences the place selections will likely be made require preparation.

As facilitators, listed below are some areas we deal with in preparation:

  • Sharing targets: All individuals needs to be clear on the objective of their time collectively: what is anticipated and what end result they’re working in the direction of. That is the case whether or not the main focus is eligibility standards for candidates, willpower of a slate of grants, or enter into grantmaking technique. With out figuring out why coming collectively is vital, conferences can go astray, individuals can get annoyed, and belief might be misplaced.
  • What’s on the desk: Individuals will likely be handiest in the event that they share an understanding for what they’re deciding. There’s nothing extra irritating than working laborious to make selections after which being advised that your selections can’t be applied. Facilitators of participatory processes must ensure that any purple strains round grantmaking are outlined and their rationale communicated prematurely of decision-making. These would possibly embrace particular geographies a basis has dedicated to and won’t shift, required Board approval of grants, or funding that’s restricted to non-profits with a 501(c)3 equivalency.
  • Guaranteeing motivation: Individuals be a part of for various causes, and a facilitator ought to perceive particular person motivations and what issues to every participant. That may assist the facilitator make sure that the expertise is significant. Expert facilitators take into account the best way to acknowledge and recognize individuals. This would possibly embrace enough monetary compensation, networking and relationship-building alternatives, or recognition for his or her participation that can assist them in different spheres of their lives.

Through the group’s decision-making section, a talented facilitator turns their consideration to:

  • Providing shared agreements: Shared agreements about how the group will work collectively needs to be knowledgeable by any current values the muse or group has. It’s key that individuals perceive what these methods of working imply and have an opportunity to apply them. Individuals needs to be clear if there’s any expectation of confidentiality and attribution. Agreements needs to be usually revisited.
  • Guaranteeing inclusion and accessibility: Not everybody participates in the identical means. A talented facilitator makes use of a number of, accessible strategies so everybody feels snug expressing their opinions. This would possibly embrace sharing a presentation prematurely so individuals with studying or visible impairments have time for evaluate. It’d imply frequent breaks so those that can’t sit or take part for lengthy intervals of time really feel thought-about.
  • Creating house for divergent pondering and battle: The concept of participatory processes is that selections will likely be higher if individuals who have a stake in them are concerned. A facilitator ought to plan for divergent pondering. Expert facilitators work in the direction of supporting dissenting voices, making certain individuals perceive totally different viewpoints. As well as, expert facilitators are able to assist battle and deal with micro or macro aggressions, particularly after they happen in the direction of individuals with marginalized identities.
  • Providing numerous methodologies: A facilitator works to usher in the voices of all individuals, and to take action, can use totally different methodologies like particular person reflections, small teams or pairings, a fishbowl, or world café. A facilitator can faucet into creativity, like music, poetry, visible arts, and even meditation. A talented facilitator can also be wanting to make sure individuals actually take heed to others.
  • Structuring how selections will likely be made: A facilitator ought to have an excellent understanding of how the group will determine. There are various ways in which teams can make a decision, together with voting, delegating selections to an individual or subgroup, and hierarchical/prime down. In participatory processes, our most well-liked means of determination making is consensus. When selections are made, all individuals needs to be clear about what that call is—ideally will probably be recorded in a spot all can consult with.

For participatory grantmaking, the place individuals with lived expertise make selections, we typically advocate consensus determination making. Consensus determination making ensures everyone seems to be concerned and heard in a call, and is attempting to work collaboratively to succeed in an answer. Consensus will increase the prospect that those that are on the margin have affect over the ultimate end result, and is a extra cooperative fairly than adversarial method. In keeping with Seeds for Change, “Consensus determination making is a inventive and dynamic means of reaching settlement in a bunch. As an alternative of merely voting for an merchandise and having the bulk getting their means, a consensus group is dedicated to discovering options that everybody actively helps – or no less than can stay with.” Folks and Planet additionally supply some sources on consensus decision-making.

  • Celebrating: Folks aren’t at all times clear when their work reaches a conclusion level. A facilitator ought to mark that second and, if applicable, have a good time it collectively. This is likely to be a humorous photograph, an excellent meal, a social media put up, high-fives, or a spherical of appreciations.

Lastly, after the group’s work is finished, a facilitator follows up. Individuals wish to know their voices have been heard and included in selections. They wish to be assured they have been understood. A facilitator circles again earlier than finalizing reporting or a slate of choices, making certain individuals agree with how a course of was mirrored and shared with others.

Constructing Expertise for Facilitation

A facilitation information by the authors of the ebook “All We Can Save” by Dr Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Dr. Katharine Ok. Wilkinson gives insights and concepts. A guiding mild is “Holding Change: The Manner Emergent Technique Facilitation and Mediation” by adrienne maree brown, which flips lots of the conventional notions of facilitation. The Jemez Ideas for Democratic Organizing are a helpful grounding for equitable ways in which teams can come collectively. The ebook “The Artwork of Gathering” by Priya Parker shares steering for facilitators about function.

There are various applications that can construct facilitation expertise. For example, the Emergent Technique Ideation Institute gives facilitation workshops. Group at Work, the co-authors of “Facilitator’s Information to Participatory Choice Making,” gives coaching for facilitators, as does the Horizontal College on facilitation of participatory course of. Roxy Manning, a Non-Violent Communication facilitator, gives trainings on Equitable Facilitation.

Our lately revealed self-assessment for funders fascinated with increasing participation of individuals impacted by their funding throughout their basis’s work—the Advancing Participation in Philanthropy Device—has some suggestions for the best way to use the instrument that readers can take into account. Within the coming months, we’ll develop facilitation steering, primarily based on our experiences facilitating participatory processes, so keep tuned! You may join our e-newsletter on the web site.

It’s a worthwhile funding to enhance your personal expertise with coaching and thru experimentation. By reviewing out there sources or hiring a educated facilitator with the talents to assist your participatory decision-making course of, you received’t keep caught within the worst group decision-making expertise ever.

To be taught extra about measuring your Participatory Philanthropy efforts, take a look at our webinar with Katy and Diana, “Participation in Philanthropy: How Will I Know If I’m Doing It?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here