Do Nothing About Me Without Me: An Action Guide for Engaging Stakeholders
There is a growing movement in philanthropy — a movement founded on the belief that grantmakers are more effective to the extent that they meaningfully engage their grantees and other key stakeholders.
Grantmakers doing this work have arrived at an understanding that much of the knowledge and experience they need to solve the problems they want to solve, and to help them do a better job as grantmakers, resides in the communities they serve. This is in keeping with an important core value that has long been held by many in the nonprofit sector — that people need to play an active role in addressing the issues that affect their lives. This underlying value is captured by the phrase that has been made visible by the disability rights movement in recent years: “Nothing about me without me.”
Although many grantmakers are making significant changes in their practices toward working in genuine partnership with their grantees and community partners, the perception persists today that foundations operate in ways that exclude, rather than engage, key stakeholders. GEO believes the reasons for this perception include a lack of knowledge about the benefits of this type of engagement and a lack of skill to do it well. This action guide seeks to provide both the knowledge and skills required to support this emerging practice in philanthropy.
This publication, from GEO and Interaction Institute for Social Change, offers an overview of how grantmakers are reaching out to grantees, community members and other partners for smarter grantmaking. The guide outlines the value of engaging diverse stakeholders, highlights leading grantmakers who are bringing stakeholders into the center of their decision making, and offers a variety of tools to help grantmakers assess and increase opportunities for engaging stakeholders in their work.