Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the quesions that were raised during our consultation calls (see Timeline). Our answers represent our current thinking. It will certainly change as we expand our team and get more feedback.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have further questions, or if you have feedback regarding our current answers.
We aim to contribute in three different ways:
- Providing more funding for system-changing initiatives
- Generating participatory philanthropic experiments
- Holding space for a community of systems entrepreneurs, activists and funders to run and learn from these experiments
Systems change means
- addressing root causes rather than symptoms
- by altering, shifting, and transforming
- structures, customs, mindsets, power dynamics, and rules
- through collaboration across a diverse set of actors
- with the intent of achieving lasting improvements of social, environmental, and other ethical issues
- on a local, national, global, or -- in the future -- interplanetary level.
Did that help? Maybe a little.
A definition is only an abbreviation. It cannot be right or wrong, just useful and not so useful.
Our definition is based on a recent report that a number of global social entrepreneurship networks have published together. We find it useful, because it outlines a general direction without being too narrow or too prescriptive. It leaves a lot of room to decide what counts as a relevant system change and what doesn’t, and which one is more important.
Even this general definition is not set in stone. It only shows what we, as a facilitation team, currently mean with the term “systems change”. Just like everything else, it will be put in the hands of activists, social entrepreneurs, and the broader LEAP community. If that community believes that a different definition better captures their understanding of systems change, the one above will be discarded immediately.
That is what LEAP is all about.
We see three gaps that we want to address:
- Existing initiatives don’t create a community of systemic change leaders, donors, and ordinary members. LEAP is set up in the spirit of a cooperative. We start with practitioners and donors and don’t have financial entry barriers.
- Existing initiatives don’t cover systemic social entrepreneurs. We believe that there is a lot of potential in bringing activists and social entrepreneurs together.
- Few initiatives allow donors to participate in a way that promotes joint learning and draws in other donors. LEAP is designed as a sandbox that donors can use to experiment. We hope that this will unlock more money for systemic initiatives in the long run.
We aim at being as political as possible without being party-political. We believe there is no a-political space. Taking no “political” position would mean silently supporting or even re-inforcing the current systems, hence we want to be very vocal about the structural problems and injustices we see, and also very vocal about necessary changes and systemic alternatives. We want to achieve change in the spirit of a just transition and our political stance is in the service of this movement for justice.
We realize that more funding is very important, but it is not the only need there is. Providing a network and a safe space for the community is just as crucial, since it is very often the personal connection and the room for joint discussion and planning that actually moves action forward, while also giving time and space for reflection and care. LEAP plans to co-design these spaces with and for the community and provide the necessary facilitation, infrastructure and resources. This reflects our commitment not to “projects”, but to the people and organisations working on systemic change.
We do acknowledge that wealth creates a power imbalance within the LEAP community, especially between practitioners and funders. We hope that the following ideas will address this issue, but chances are that it will not go away completely.
At LEAP, funders contribute into a larger pot, which is then distributed by activists and social entrepreneurs. These decisions are not up to individual funders. We also aim to create sustainable long-term funding and partnerships so that projects are never at the mercy of a small number of funders in order to survive and thrive.
As an additional element of accountability, we also invite all funders to be part of a learning and community-building process. In that process, we will openly discuss power imbalances and how to manage them as a group.
The Facilitation Team currently consists of five able-bodied white people with class privilege from big cities in the UK and Germany. Before we even make suggestions for promoting diversity, we need to diversify our team. We do not want to perpetuate the same problems of exclusion, injustice, and poor decision-making that plague our sector today.
Specifically, we aim to expand our group in Q1 2021 by at least five more people.
Until then, we would like to acknowledge the status quo that we need to move away from:
- Activists and social entrepreneurs in Western Europe have better access to funding than those in Eastern Europe.
- People living in capital cities have better access to funding than those in other areas.
- Philanthropy is predominantly white, and white people have better access to philanthropic money. For example, in the U.K., 94% of people on boards of the top 500 charities are white, and 99% of foundation trustees are white.
- Even though many charitable organizations support people with disabilities, very few of these people have power in philanthropic organizations.
Due to imbalances in class privilege and power, some members of our community have the resources to offer their time to LEAP on a voluntary basis, and others do not. LEAP will prioritise the fair remuneration of labour by all community members who require it, and facilitate open and transparent conversations and processes to decide these amounts. We will mention these costs explicitly to donors who wish to support LEAP.
Our current compensation scheme can be found here.
We certainly plan on challenging the way wealth is created in the first place, this is a crucial part of our systemic stance. We are convinced that much of philanthropy is just a different form of influence based on the structurally same mode of extraction and power imbalance that created the problems that philanthropy now claims to solve. But we also believe that resources, including resources that were “made in the wrong way”, should now contribute towards the solutions, without glossing over the histories this wealth. Which funds and resources LEAP will actually accept will be decided by the LEAP community.
You can donate the assets that generate your income. This is typically done with foundations, which give founders a lot of control. In fact, in many countries, the founder’s intentions are laid out in the statutes and can never be changed. If you designate LEAP as a steward of your assets, you do not have that level of control. Instead, you hand it over to a group of leading activists and social entrepreneurs. If you are ready for that step, we are here to help you with the process.
LEAP supports initiatives that change social systems for the better. We think about “better” in terms of the welfare of all conscious and living beings, present and future, as well as a just arrangement between them. We will happily support systems changes that protect the environment, reduce animal suffering, or spread life across the universe.