With young indigenous leaders at the helm, the new fund supports participatory grant-making across the North

Members of the leadership council of the Arctic Indigenous Fund (photo by Shayla Snowshoe, courtesy of AIF)

The Arctic Indigenous Fund (AIF) is a new fund headed by young indigenous leaders from across the Arctic and supports participatory grant-making across the North. It is a unique opportunity to decide how philanthropic funding should be distributed in ways that better support the needs of Northern communities and align with existing indigenous-led efforts shaping the future of the North.

RSF’s Kelley Buhles, senior director of philanthropic services, spoke with Liz Liske and Chandre Szafran from the Arctic Indigenous Fund about empowering communities and transforming the power dynamics in philanthropy.

Kelley: I think the work AIF does is amazing. …

Over the last decade, RSF has hosted Shared Gifting Circles across the United States. The above took place in West Oakland in December 2017.

Lessons learned from 10 years of Shared Gifting Circles

“I thought it could be a disaster or a beautiful experience, and it was a beautiful experience.”

That comment from a participant in RSF Social Finance’s first Shared Gifting Circle mirrored what we all secretly felt about this radical experiment in giving up grant-making power. The enthusiastic response to that session — despite its rocky parts — inspired us to continue developing a process that requires a group of nonprofit leaders to collaborate on the best ways to distribute a pool of grant money, with no guideposts from the funder.

Now, more than 10 years later, interest in participatory grant-making…

Shared Gifting Circles put nonprofits in the role of making grants and evaluating proposals among peers

Kelley Buhles leads a Shared Gifting Circle in the Pacific Northwest

David Lozano’s first experience as a grant maker was a powerful one. Given the opportunity to fund any or all of a group of applicants, he awarded the majority of his funds to Trans.lation, a tiny nonprofit that supports immigrants through the arts. Both grant maker and grantee had strong emotional reactions. Carol Zou, leader of Trans.lation, did not expect to receive so much money and was deeply moved by his generosity. …

Kelley Buhles

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