Here are 10 reasons why supporting community-led nonprofits is the key to a more accountable, effective, and decolonized philanthropic sector—and a brighter future for everyone.
1. Community-led nonprofits understand their communities’ needs best.
Proximity implies emotional closeness, shared sentiments and beliefs, and commonality in terms of background and experiences. These community-based organizations (CBOs) are often an oasis of hope and courage.Shubha Chacko
This proximity is built on relationships, which we found to be the foundation of community-led organizations in our research.
2. Traditional models of aid are falling short.
Of course, food packages will always be part of humanitarian responses in disaster or crisis situations. But when it comes to long-term change, better ways to help exist. The people affected by these crises often have innovative ideas and the social capital they need to succeed but just need more funding.
3. Community-led nonprofits build trust and ownership in solutions.
If people are not involved with the project, they will not own it and take care of it. If the people are invested in the development, they will take care of that development.A local NGO staff member, Cambodia, The Listening Project
Community-based projects operate by getting individual residents on board with the process, not just the tail-end of receiving.
4. Community-led nonprofits are chronically underfunded.
Every year, $20-30 billion is devoted to international humanitarian assistance. Yet only 2% of that humanitarian aid reaches local changemakers. The other 98% is channeled to a few large nonprofits with tight restrictions on how funds can be used.
5. Community-led organizations are connected.
One mark of community-based organizations is the ability to identify, mobilize, and celebrate local resources. That can include personal connections, local materials, knowledge, and more to bring neighborhoods together and solve common problems.
6. Traditional philanthropy is rooted in colonial practices.
Philanthropy is a system built on wealth preservation and the exploitation of workers and people of color.
Another major critique of philanthropy and international development is that people who are not from or living in a place are out of touch with the actual needs, wants, and strengths of the community.
7. Community-led organizations are tapped into their community’s wisdom and unique strengths.
This point is especially pertinent when it comes to funding Indigenous-led work. For example, many of the best solutions to the climate crisis aren’t new at all—they use methods that Indigenous peoples created long ago.
8. Community-led nonprofits are first responders to crises.
We responded because it is our country, our communities, and because we can never stop caring.Marie-Rose Romain Murphy
Community-based organizations can act swiftly to mobilize resources after disasters big and small.
9. Community-led organizations are agile.
These exchanges take more time than simply pointing out problems and prescribing solutions, but they are more likely to create lasting change because they are designed by and for the individuals and communities and are viable in the context of their realities.Waleska López Canu and Anne Kraemer
Agility means organizations constantly listen and make changes to their projects based on community feedback.
10. Investing directly in community-based groups shifts the power in the nonprofit sector.
Only when communities are in the driver’s seat of change will we be able to solve the world’s most entrenched problems—racism, poverty, inequality—and unleash brighter futures for everyone.Donna Callejon, Interim GlobalGiving CEO
For too long, local leaders in the Global South have been overworked, underpaid, and undervalued by their counterparts in the Global North. It’s time to shift power—in the form of unrestricted, flexible grants—to the community changemakers around the globe.
Let’s build together a better society.