Our current facilitation group of five had always been clear about the need to expand the team to create a majority of activists and social entrepreneurs and increase diversity. Once we had a first private grant available for compensating individuals who would otherwise not be able to participate, we designed an application and selection process and invited the existing LEAP community of 50+ people that had been contacted for consultation calls to apply and/or nominate others.
We were excited to receive 15 amazing applications and had a tough time selecting but ultimately identified five individuals that represented a diverse set of experiences, backgrounds and contributions. We're stoked about this new chapter of LEAP with a new 10 people facilitation group!
We were sad to say goodbye to Rainer in March of this year. He had been involved in LEAP from the very beginning and made an essential contribution to the early-stage process.
However, following the consultation calls and the workshop in January, it became clear, that Rainer wanted to go ahead faster and with more pragmatism and was unhappy with some of our recurring discussions about systems change and social justice. We are sad that at this point of our journey we were unable to reconcile these differences but parted in a spirit of mutual understanding and appreciation. We hope that Rainer will be one of the first to join the wider LEAP community.
Tatiana is an organiser and facilitator with over ten years experience of working on issues around race, migration and climate justice. She has led strategy development processes for social justice organisations, facilitated work exploring liberation, and delivered trainings on movement building across the UK and in Europe.
Tatiana has worked with Quakers In Britain, HOPE not Hate, Migrants Rights Network and Latin American Women's Rights Service, amongst others. She is also a long-standing grassroots activist -- co-founding London Latinx and Wretched of the Earth, groups she is still heavily involved in.
Tatiana initially was brought on board to facilitate the consultation calls at the end of 2020. When she got to know the team and our goals better, she decided to become the first activist to join the facilitation group.
Following the consultation calls, we organised a longer workshop for the LEAP team and Tatiana (who had been our facilitator and by then knew the project as well as any of us) to digest the input we had gathered and chart out a way forward.
This was when we decided to part from our initial idea of setting up one participatory fund. We felt there was more need for and potential in providing a sandbox for a community of systems entrepreneurs, activists, and donors to collectively develop and implement ideas for how to fund systems change work in a participatory manner - the idea of LEAP as a sandbox was born. You can read more here.
Over the course of four months, we were talking to a diverse set of activists, social entrepreneurs, donors, and foundations. We had three goals:
- Learn how we need to design LEAP to live our values of systemic stance, genuine participation, and learning orientation.
- Gauge interest from activists, social entrepreneurs, and donors.
- Find new members for the Facilitation Team.
Lessons learned (as of December 4th):
- We need to be more clear how we add to existing initiatives in systemic and participatory grantmaking. See Romy's blog post and an entry in the FAQs.
- We need to include activists and social entrepreneurs in the Facilitation Team sooner rather than later. We are already talking to people who are interested in that role.
- We should explicitly name the structural injustices that we are trying to address. We now mention climate change, inequality, racism, and other themes in our statement under "Systemic Stance".
- We should be more clear about what we mean with the term "systems change". See the new entry in the FAQs and our examples.
It had emerged from our initial discussions that one goal would be to create a community where wealth owners and foundation representatives would be able to connect at eye level with activists and system entrepreneurs. It therefore made sense to diversify our core team to include all these groups. The easiest start, because no compensation was required, was inviting a person with a background of wealth and privilege to join us.
Martin, Rainer and Romy had all met Leonie before and we were inspired by her role in helping organise young people of wealth and privilege in the UK through Resource Justice and were therefore delighted when she agreed to participate in LEAP.
Romy and Martin knew each other from the EDGE Funders Alliance. She shared the analysis of what's wrong with philanthropy, had experience with participatory grantmaking from helping to set up FundAction, and had also identified a need for more funding for systems change initiatives, especially with a grassroots movement building focus. Romy also connected to Rainer and Odin because of her background in social entrepreneurship education and was excited about connecting the dots by bringing together radical social entrepreneurs with movement activists through a new participatory funder.
Martin, driven by a wish to change traditional philanthropy, already supported Vertrauen Macht Wirkung, a German sector initiative for trust-based and more participatory philanthropy. He had also already experimented with participatory grantmaking for activists at the Renewable Freedom Foundation. He was looking to expand this work to a European scale and add a systems change lens to it.
Rainer and Odin, both from Ashoka Germany, had experienced first hand how social entrepreneurs who wanted to address the root causes of systemic injustices struggled in finding funding and a community.