Rayana Mohammed, Assistant Grants Advisor for the Corra Foundation, shares her insights and learning into the phrase ‘shifting the power’ within the process of grantmaking. This blog was originally posted on Scotland’s International Development Alliance website which can be found here.
‘Shifting the power’ is a phrase that was often referred to, but also explored, when I first joined the world of grantmaking last summer. Over the months of being at Corra, I have experienced many methods of trying to make this happen – in Corra’s international grant-making and in many other areas and contexts that Corra works in.
I joined at the start of Corra’s International Learning Process and Pilot Fund and have been involved throughout the process. The pilot was very participant-led right from the beginning. This looked like having discussion sessions on themes that were identified by the participating organisations. These sessions were guided by pointer questions which not only allowed us to gather suggestions on how we can shift the power, but also allowed for free and open discussion.
Our first Insight Briefing explores what this meant for applications and assessment in more detail. When it came to the application form and reporting templates, we produced first drafts in alignment with what we had heard in the discussions, but with a light touch approach. However, the latter was quickly changed when we heard from participants that they needed more space and had more they wanted to tell us. Participants valued time to open up and talk with no time constraints to explain their context, thinking and processes. Our second Insight Briefing explores reporting as well the value of relationships in this learning process, in shifting the power and beyond. We were also keen to amplify the voices of the participants in a fun and creative way and so created an animated audio clip where they speak about what shifting the power means to them.
Corra’s wider steps in shifting the power across our programmes has similarities to this learning process. Within Corra, there is an encouragement to involve communities and those with lived experience in ways that go beyond consultation whenever possible. A couple of examples of this that I have either worked on or have heard a lot about are The Equity Programme, Comic Relief grants (community-led grantmaking and the #ShiftThePower fund), as well as Corra’s own Henry Duncan Grants. Collectively, these programmes have facilitated conversations where priorities are identified by people and organisations with lived expertise. These people have also been involved (and compensated) in identifying needs and designing funding processes that are specific to their environment or in decision-making panels.
Corra’s commitment to shifting the power, and continuing to learn how to best achieve this, can be seen in our ten-year strategy and is central to all that we do and will continue to do. To me this means trusting the people we are working alongside, listening to what they are asking for, and delivering without hesitation. This also means coming into conversations with open minds and realising that what works for some may not work for all.