Support comes in many forms

FundAction has a few donors. (Too few! Anyone who wants to support European activists, get in touch!) One of these, the Guerrilla Foundation, recently gave us a €20k grant for 2019, with some feedback on our work in 2017/2018. We thought we’d share this feedback — plus initial responses from the Facilitation Group — for transparency purposes, but also to show what positive relationships with donors may look like. All of the donor representatives FundAction works with are supportive, dedicated, and imaginative, and this blog offers an example of how we work with them in a spirit of mutual accountability.

Guerilla Foundation thoughts:

- we would love to see more transparency in your processes. You could look into a more transparent way of communicating the grants you are deciding on and also about internal structures, like who is in what facilitation group for example? Especially since FundAction is born out of the idea to create greater transparency and more democratic structures in the funding world we feel that this is very important.

This is a really important point for FundAction. The way we have dealt with transparency so far has included making absolutely every piece of information we have available to all — not a very strategic approach. We need to think about how we share useful information in a useful way, as well as documenting everything for those who may be interested. As part of this, we need to separate the transparency (1) to public (2) to members. For example, explaining the process how people were chosen for the Facilitation Group: how can we do this in a dynamic, engaging, transparent way, that doesn’t overload people with information? This is something we need to prioritise (and this blog is a start!).

- Is there a plan of including to have an evaluation / research on the ‘impact’ that FundAction has internally, as for example asking: are people involved happier than with the processes w traditional funders? How well do the processes work?

FG member and representative of The European Cultural Foundation Menno Weijs worked with the FG and an external evaluator (Sameer Padania) to develop a ‘values-based evaluation’, which will be available soon. He interviewed members as well as people deeply involved with the first iteration of the Facilitation Group to gauge our perspectives on the values we aim to live. The intention is for the evaluation to be shared in different formats for different audiences, as it’s quite long. As it was conducted before we’d made many grants, it focuses on our processes and approach as a whole, rather than the outcome of any funding processes. Therefore, in late 2019, we anticipate having a more formal evaluation that includes grantmaking.

- (How) are you working on getting more members / activists involved?

This is the million euro question! We talk about this a lot, and the Facilitation Group spent time considering this at our first face-to-face meeting recently. It’s our main priority, and something we now have a Community Building Working Group to help us develop. This will also be a major theme for our annual in-person Assembly. One challenge is How do we grow, with such limited resources? Another is How do we engage people, without overwhelming them with requests? Many things to consider, and to balance.

- What do you think about a social media channel/ i.e. facebook page for more visibility?

We currently have a Twitter account (and this Medium blog), but Facebook proved controversial. Some of the first iteration of Facilitation Group members were uncomfortable with Facebook due to privacy, data and related issues, and the recently-established Community Building Working Group have also raised concerns. So, for the time being, we’ll stick with Twitter and Medium.

Guerrilla Foundation have given FundAction support of many different kinds: financial support (€20k); in-kind support (donation of the time of one of their staff members); and fundraising support (by joining our Fundraising Working Group). This list of queries demonstrates they also offer intellectual support, through being a critical friend. And they are not unique amongst our donors: European Cultural Foundation, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation, Un Monde Par Tous and Open Society Initiative for Europe have all contributed to the FundAction project in varied and invaluable ways. Other donors, take note!

(P.S. We would accept just a cheque, too.)