#ShiftThePower | Webinar

A webinar series and movement seeking to address power imbalances in philanthropy.

On 17th June, the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School hosted the first of a series of webinars addressing power imbalances in philanthropy. We explore the background of the series, what it aims to achieve, and what donors can hope to learn. Register to the series for free here.

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Background and event information provided by the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy.

Register for free here


Background to the #ShiftThePower series

The devastating nature of the Covid-19 pandemic means that many large foundations in the Global North have pragmatically diverted some of their funding to the health sector, even if this was not previously a core focus.

This shift has highlighted the historically unequal power dynamic between philanthropic organisations in the Global South and the resource-rich foundations of the Global North. It has underlined the control foundations exert over the allocation of funding and removed the veil that concealed deep frustrations with established grant making practices.

Grantees have increasingly found their voice and demanded faster disbursement and more unrestricted funding. Foundations, in-turn, have been flexible, deviating from traditional practices, simplifying processes and responding more directly to the real needs of the frontline in the Global South.

As the Radical Flexibility Fund argues, donors could improve accountability further by assessing their assumptions and asking questions such as:

“Did we help communities engage and solve their own problems? If not, why not?”

In so doing, they can ensure the “community has the power to identify the goals of an intervention” and that donors thus abide by the rules and standards of the community, rather than imposing their own.

This session will explore the pandemic-induced changed dynamic of philanthropy and how it can be encouraged and entrenched, leading to much greater scalable and sustainable impact.

Rewatch the first session here.


About the #ShiftThePower series

The purpose of these seminars is to explore the multiple elements that underpin inequitable power dynamics in philanthropy, with a view to:

  • building a coherent and concise articulation of the power imbalance issue;
  • developing specific recommendations and actions that can serve to address the challenge;
  • aggregating the output of the seminars into a simple but powerful narrative; and,
  • developing specific actions to transform #ShiftThePower into an advocacy movement.

The ultimate outcome of the seminars is to build a robust and substantiated body of evidence that can be used to underpin the advocacy movement and that can equip the initial participating organisations with the tools required to trigger action.

It will serve to unite these organisations and, over time, to encourage other organisation to join the movement. Success will be judged by the shift in funding and engagement practices of Global North grant makers such that Global South grant recipients witness a radical improvement in their capacity, their resilience and in their input into global development policy at both local and international levels.

These outcomes will be defined by the participating organisation and evolved into clear metrics that can be used to track progress of the group.


What will funders learn?

Existing and prospective donors are likely to get a lot from this series, regardless of whether you give overseas or domestically. You will learn:

  • about the power your funding choices have to challenge the philanthropy status quo;
  • about some of the frustrations facing grantees and how your actions can help to negate them;
  • how your funding style can enable communities to have agency over their own problems and the solutions to those problems;
  • where your funding choices fit in the broader national and international sphere of philanthropy.