In 2019 I was lucky enough to receive a Fellowship from The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. This is a programme that allows people from the UK to travel elsewhere in the world for four to eight weeks to learn and inform best practice in the UK. I was able to travel to South Africa and the USA to explore participatory grant making.
During this trip I spent two weeks in South Africa, predominately with the Other Foundation in Johannesburg, including four days at their Kopano (from the Sotho n. [ko-pa-no]) meaning a gathering to address an important issue.
The Other Foundation have been using participatory grantmaking approaches since their inception in 2014; they fund both organisations and individuals working to improve the lives of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex) people across 13 countries in Southern Africa. They have several funding streams including research, strategic partnerships and grass roots activity; some of these funding streams follow a more traditional approach whilst others, including the grass roots activities, use a participatory method.
I also spent four weeks traveling around the USA – Boston, New York, Washington DC and San Francisco. I spent time with over 30 participatory grantmaking experts, practitioners and grantholders, learning from their different models and approaches.