- Language Justice
- Inspiration Behind the Design
- It takes a feminist village! Appreciation to feminist community globally
- How we learn from participatory Grantmaking practice
- How has FRIDA adopted the recommendation from previous report
- Sustainability of FRIDA’s Grantmaking model
- What are we exploring in this report?
- The key questions we have been addressing
- Key learnings
- What you will find in this report
This report emerged as part of our process documenting FRIDA's grantmaking model. It gathers our learnings from that process in a comprehensive resource that can act as a compass for the next phase of this grantmaking model’s journey. The time that it asked from us is exactly the time needed to process important conversations and all learnings and experiences. Having conversations with the young feminist community about participation in physically divisive times has brought new meanings to our practice. It has reminded us that our lives are interconnected and that different realities coexist not that far away from one another. It has expanded our perception of what we already know and brought to our awareness where we still need to grow. This perspective has created new life-enhancing opportunities to radically transform how we share movement and community space and the planet with each other. At the same time, it has reminded us that the power of feminist movements is rooted in authentic, deep connections that can transgress borders and feel potent and tangible even in virtual spaces. As we are coming back to community physically and virtually, these spaces for participation as feminist movements become even more intentional and sacred. The art of connecting is a feminist movements biggest resource, one that can birth ideas and strategies into action that might not flourish in isolation. Our funding mechanisms need to have the same potential to cultivate critical connections and resource the feminist movement at the source of its power.
As we reflected on our participatory grantmaking process, we also needed to reflect on FRIDA's role and responsibility in co-creating space for participation and facilitating connection and closeness in our processes when there are both movement synergies and misalignment. We needed to name truths about the interlocking systems of oppression that build inequity and power dynamics into our movement webs and expand distance between us. We also needed to tap into movement caring practices and wisdom to hold the complexities of participatory processes with care. We started a conversation about how we can make life-sustaining decisions together and build supportive and accountable relationships, as well as how to embody practices that invoke the futures we are moving toward.
We entered this research process with full openness to the notion that what we have been developing for the past years, what we have held close to our hearts and nurtured with love, might require a deep transformation. As part of our ongoing learning process, we wanted to uplift and solidify what has brought joy in this process, as well as to change and compost anything that needs to be left behind. What we are sharing is knowledge that is tentative and ever-evolving, since in the future our realities might shift and request further change. However, there are feminist principles and values that will always guide FRIDA's grantmaking model and help us to facilitate a transparent, equitable and diverse young feminist movement-driven participatory process that bring organizers closer to each other.
This report has attempted to capture all the pieces of this process and the vastness of young feminist knowledge and experience. It goes beyond a participatory funding toolkit and instead dives deep into self-reflection about the politics, principles, and values of our participatory grantmaking practice. As part of our accountability to the community, we want to share more about different parts of the process, who is involved and what internal challenges and limitations emerge. All people who wrote, created and shared their experience in this report are feminist activists from the Global South and East. We hope to not only shift the power dynamics surrounding funding decisions, but also to decentralize narratives about who holds knowledge about and solutions for transformative community participatory practices. This report is dedicated to all young feminist collectives that have ever applied to FRIDA, supported their peers with their time and presence and trusted us to facilitate this process. We share findings that are responding to questions and feedback we have received from young feminist communities.
We acknowledge that even though our grantmaking process happens in multiple languages, the language we use to communicate our work to the world is English. This language is not only overrepresented in our communication, but it can also introduce concepts that shape our imagination and how we envision our organizing, impact and transformative change that do not necessarily speak to the realities of our community across different contexts. The domination of one language can also impose culturespecific concepts that might not accurately describe movements’ organizing realities. This can create immense power dynamics that prioritize one knowledge source over others, as the language used in funding processes has the power to set agendas and direct our strategies and work. This report also contains concepts that allow us to communicate some ideas more quickly with the philanthropic community, but those same concepts don’t necessarily translate to the realities across Global South and East socio-political contexts. Feminist organizers are continuously asked to translate our work and our realities to the language used within philanthropic frameworks, which is sometimes too narrow to fit our vision. This report is written by non-native English speakers, so we understand the challenge of language accessibility. We kept some concepts descriptive in the report, and we will build an online glossary on our web page that expands overtime. Also, we will ensure that this report is translated to other languages that we use in our work.
Inspiration behind the design
For the design of this report, we have drawn inspiration from fungi and mycorrhizal networks, which all life on the planet is connected to and depends on. These webs interact with and build complex relationships with other plants, and they can transport information across their wide network. These relationships are intimate and also complex, and some exchanges feel more generative than others–some might even feel competitive or interdependent. There is so much that we can learn from these networks, including how they interconnect and exchange and sustain themselves. Separate fungal networks can fuse with each other, even with their many differences, and create powerful alliances by merging, connecting and building relationships. They survive together where they can’t on their own. This inspiration has been brought to life in analogue artwork and drawings by Marina Milanovic and Diana K. Cury.
It takes a feminist village!
Appreciation to feminist community globally
This report includes conversations, stories, memories, knowledge, and experiences from an expansive community of feminist activists who have been part of creating FRIDA over the years. FRIDA would not exist today without the intentional participation of feminist activists across the world who gifted their time, knowledge, and love to co-create this space. We hold deep gratitude for every feminist activist that has been part of the FRIDA Global Advisory and Grantee Community, and who continuously show up to FRIDA’s participatory process believing in their impact. We are also grateful to the staff members who get to support this process every year and bring their young feminist expertise into it. We are grateful to all young feminist collectives who have been part of FRIDA’s grantmaking process, and who shared their feedback and dreams for FRIDA’s future. Also, big appreciation to our teachers, those that came before us and those that we continue to learn with within the network of feminist funds globally that have shared feminist learnings and strategy spaces with us.
How we learn from participatory
Having a participatory grantmaking process that involves young feminist organizers in staff, advisory, and grantee community as well as young feminist collectives that apply allows us to learn in interrelations with feminist movements and co-create knowledge, expertise, and solutions together. We get to reflect and learn in each stage of this process and this knowledge shapes and nourishes our programmatic work, how we plan, distribute and mobilize resources and how we communicate our vision, commitments, and learnings with the world.
FRIDA participatory grantmaking process creates a space for learning, exchange, and feminist movement connection and carries these values in each stage of the process. With the last report on FRIDA’s participatory grantmaking approach, Letting The Movements Decide (2015) we have gathered some insight of what is working and what needs to change in our participatory grantmaking model in our open call for applications. From 2015 onward, FRIDA’s participatory grantmaking process has been modified based on the feedback gathered from the participants and together with the data from our internal evaluation in each cycle. Today we are reflecting on what we have achieved so far and what is the future of this model and it’s possibilities.
How has FRIDA adopted the recommendation
From previous report
Diversity and outreach:
We have co-created regional and thematic funding strategies that guide us to understand what an intersectional participatory funding approach looks like across regions where FRIDA funds. These focused strategies help us understand what are the conditions we need to set up for certain communities to access FRIDA's application process. We were able to simplify and improve our grantmaking process, identify gaps and be intentional in our communication and outreach process. This has resulted in much of underfunded radical young feminist organizing receiving support from FRIDA and different communities recognizing FRIDA as a funder that can support their work. In the future, we hope to do more on-ground outreach and further improve the accessibility of the model.
Technology and access:
One of the biggest changes has been designing how our participatory grantmaking process could be brought to life on an online platform. We have moved away from the unsustainable tools like Excel sheets to design a very comprehensive system that supports our grantmaking process in every stage. For now, the model is hosted at Smart Simple platform and has multiple portals for different communities participating and facilitates cross-communication across the platform. It was key for FRIDA grantmaking staff to be involved in the design, and we put a lot of thought in every stage of our grantmaking process. We ensured that platforms are available in all languages that we work in and that groups can keep track of their applications process with clarity. The platform connects all stages of the process from application, Peer Review Panel review process, Applicant voting process, cross communication and due diligence as well as final stage of grant payments. This process used to take a lot of our time just because the system and structure behind it were not set up for such a complex participatory grantmaking process. We have learned the tools that we use to host a participatory process are critical for saving us the time that we can direct to provide more care and intention.
Data systems and analysis:
We have published many reports on young feminist organizing and trust-based funding, and co-created our strategic plan together with the community of young feminist organizers. As we are understanding our role in philanthropic advocacy, we have improved our systems of data analysis with the new our strategic MEL framework, capacity strengthening and grantmaking evaluation process. We have created participatory funding strategies, where data from grantmaking cycles and information that we receive flows across our work and informs the way we support young feminist organizing. The data that we receive supports us in the long-term in to make movement informed decisions, when there are no capacities for direct participation. The data and analyses about young feminist work is also part of this report.
From 2015 there have been immense changes with the voting process and how voting groups are organized. FRIDA staff has created a comprehensive voting system that can navigate complexities while supporting right connections to happen and diverse work to get funded. There is also another layer of review of the final decisions and a way to support groups that might face disadvantage in a participatory grantmaking process. We are reflecting on the voting mechanism in this report as well, and we will be making changes to this system in the upcoming years.
Sustainability of FRIDA's
From its inception until 2020 FRIDA’s participatory grantmaking process has been managed, facilitated and further designed but one staff member. This role involved designing and improving the grantmaking process, setting up the systems and technology to hold it and manage each stage of this process. This involved also facilitation of participation of Advisory Committee, young feminist collectives applicants and grantee partners and participation of other FRIDA staff. We recognize that it was an unsustainable way of managing this process and incompatible with the values and principles that we hold behind it. FRIDA’s budget has affected how we could grow our systems internally while we respond to the commitments towards young feminist movements. Today there are multiple staff members managing this process, however we still are rethinking about sustainability of this approach so that this knowledge is decentralized and doesn’t depend on one person holding all the history and pieces of it.
What are we exploring in
Even after a decade of participatory grantmaking practice, we engage with curiosity in every grantmaking cycle and with full openness that what we have been planting and nurturing for the past years might no longer be serving our community. We have asked the young feminist community of applicants, grantee partners and FRIDA advisers what are the valuable segments of FRIDA model that bring joy and excitement and what they found challenging in the process and should be assessed or changed in the future. This is a report back to young feminist communities about what we have learned in our grantmaking from 2015-2021, and how FRIDA will move forward in respect to this collective knowledge.
We have collected data from application forms, feedback forms, voting forms, feedback on the voting and about FRIDA's process, email communications and Q&A, outreach processes, regional strategies, grantee data and other FRIDA's research and reports. All the data that we have received has been read with feminist intersectional lens and with an understanding how interlocking systems of oppression influence our data. We will be sharing findings beyond numbers and with more analyses that might not show in numbers. We have learned that numbers will favour the success of this participatory model, but the challenges that maybe just a couple of groups could experience about access, bias, capacity can challenge all its advantages. Furthermore, we co-design a feminist participatory grantmaking methodology that could help us capture data and nuances that speak to many dimensions of feminist organizing. We wanted to go deeper, questioning what participation means to the communities that we exist to support and what the impact of this model could be that is definite by the communities that participate in this process.
The key questions we
have been addressing
What we have learned confirms that FRIDA’s grantmaking model align our decision-making with feminist values and principles and fulfils its main purpose: building movement connection, power and mutual accountability:
- Feminist participatory decision-making models are already a feminist movement practice how they envision a feminist funder.
- Participatory grantmaking deepens our understanding about the diversity of perspectives and realities and how to most effectively support young feminist organizers across political, social and economic contexts.
- To be truly participatory needs to be accessable.
- Movement building in an online space is possible, facilitating right connections and aligned vision allow us to uplift and be present for each other across geographies.
- After connecting with the impact of their participation, the groups are more willing to participate in another FRIDA's internal participatory process and apply in their process.
- The common vision that we are interconnected, that sharing community and being in right relationships matter and challenges the competitive mindset.
- Meaningful and accessible participation allows for young feminist groups to get to learn and connect with each other the awareness of belonging to a larger movement has a potential to expand our empathy, compassion, and solidarity towards peer feminist organizers.
- Connection and misalignment can happen simultaneously in the movement led participatory process and require flexible, caring structure as compass that point out to the values of this process that should be practiced at each stage of the process.
- Transparency and clarity are key to building meaning into participatory process facilitate by funded and clear intentions and principles that that shape feminist participatory practice.
- Intersectional lens and concrete efforts and practices to increase accessibility of our process, like languages, outreach, community involvement, accessibility of application form diversify its outcomes.
- Participatory processes ask us to continuously reflect, change and build access.
- These models should be created by the movement members they are serving.
- Having sustainable systems allow for time to be spent on care.
- Movements do want to be part of funders processes but there need to be conditions in place for their participation and they need to be connected with the process as much as with the outcomes
What you will find in this report
Recommitting to a feminist participatory grantmaking practice
The key findings have directed us to articulate the grounding principles of our participatory practice as a feminist fund. These values have always existed, but they are now solidified as part of the structure and principles under which this model operates. In this section, we reflect on the structure that holds those values and allow them to express themselves and shape this process. We share here FRIDA's principles of participation such as transparency, accountability, intersectionality, shared accountability and how it manifest in our gratnmaking process.
FRIDA's participatory funding model: How does it work?
FRIDA's participatory grantmaking is quite complex, and we wanted to ensure that each stage of the process is explained in detail. This is an important section to read and get familiar with the model to get a comprehensive understanding of young feminist community feedback and FRIDA's reflections, learnings, and ways forward.
Young feminist community evaluation of FRIDA's participatory grantmaking model:
In this section, you will find the main findings from the external evaluation of FRIDA's model. These findings have informed all sections of this report. The feminist participatory research has been carried out by co-reasearchers - young feminist activists from FRIDA's advisory, grantee partners and staff, and external consultants. Recrear, FRIDA Grantee Partner Co-Researchers: Priyadharsini Palaniswamy (India), Jade P. Leung (Philippines), Tatjana Nikolic (Serbia), Deniz Nazarova (Kyrgyzstan), Aline Izaias Lucio (Brazil), Dina Abdel-Nabi, Mona-Lisa Danieli Mungure (Botswana) FRIDA Advisory Co-Researchers: Twasiima Tricia (Uganda), Hazal Atay, Jessica Gonzalez Sampayo (Puerto Rico) Jovana Djordjevic (Former Chief of Programs FRIDA)
Young feminist community evaluation of FRIDA's participatory grantmaking model
In this section, FRIDA is sharing internal reflections in conversation with findings, questions, and concerns that have emerged from the research. FRIDA will also clarify the rationale behind some decisions in the design of this model that are informed by the data received related to the impact of this process that is not always visible as well as the challenges that guide how we dream and envision this model in the future.
Participatory Research Team
PROJECT COORDINATOR AND LEAD WRITER: Jovana Djordjevic Jo has joined FRIDA from young feminist organizing background in 2013 and has managed and facilitated FRIDA’s Participatory Grantmaking and Operations until 2020. This report is part of their knowledge documentation and transition process.
EXTERNAL EVALUATION: FRIDA GRANTEE PARTNER CO-RESEARCHERS: Priyadharsini Palaniswamy, Jade P. Leung , Tatjana Nikolic , Deniz Nazarova, Aline Izaias Lucio, Dina Abdel-Nabi, Mona-Lisa Danieli Mungure FRIDA ADVISORY CO-RESEARCHERS: Twasiima Tricia, Hazal Atay, Jessica Gonzalez Sampayo LEAD DATA COLLECTION, ANALYSES, AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Recrear International FEMINIST PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH METHODOLOGY DESIGN: Jovana Djordjevic, Kavita Devadas
EDITOR: Kim Kaletsky
DESIGN: Marina Milanovic and Diana K Cury.
REVIEWERS: Mariam Gagoshashvili, Paige Andrew, Veronica Veloso
APPRECIATION TO FRIDA CURRENT AND FORMER STAFF FOR THEIR INPUTS AND FEEDBACK: Veronica Veloso, Paige Andrew, Khensani Charllote Nhambongo, Maria Diaz Ezquerro, Mayra Zamaniego Lopez, Di Wang, Saadat Bagazieva, Mbali Khumalo, Senda Ban Jebara, Marta Music, Maame Akua Kyerewaa-Marfo, Ro Ann Mohammed, Maryam Al-Kawaja
To learn more about the methodology and learnings from FRIDA’s participatory grantmaking process, as well as values and principles behind the model, please reach out to:
Jovana Djordjevic email@example.com
Veronica Veloso firstname.lastname@example.org