The Land Portal and Both Ends capped the popular Whose Land? webinar series with a final webinar on inclusive financing that drew over 300 participants on 2 March 2023. "Inclusive finance for land governance: A conversation with donors” featured donors from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Both ENDS, Global Fund for Community Foundations, and Tenure Facility, as well as a diversity, equity, and inclusion expert.
The webinar was organized around three rounds of questions:
What helps donors make grants more inclusive? What are the instruments?
How can we measure inclusiveness? What do good results look like?
How can donors and recipients operating in vulnerable countries engage in the information ecosystem? What are the risks of documenting too openly about donors and grant recipients?
Nonette Royo, Executive Director of the Tenure Facility, moderated the panel, which featured the following speakers.
- Gemma Betsema, senior programme advisor with LAND-at-scale, a land governance support programme of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. She is currently the Chair of the Global Donor Working Group on Land.
- Daniëlle Hirsch, Director of Both ENDS, an environment and human rights NGO that raises funds for independent organisations in the global south.
- Jenny Hodgson, the Executive Director of the Johannesburg-based Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), where she has overseen its emergence as the leading global voice on community philanthropy as a core strategy for people-led development and shifting power closer to the ground.
- Elizabeth Oni-iyiola is a Partner at the McLean Partnership, where she leads their work on supporting organizations to become more equitable, diverse and inclusive.
Please see a recap of round 1 of the panel below and watch the replay at the bottom for the full captivating conversation.
What helps donors make grants more inclusive? What are the instruments?
Danielle, Both ENDS: Everything starts with strategy, which we develop together with a broad group of organizations we work with globally. We define both the dilemmas and the solutions together.
Based on the strategy, we develop proposals for funders with local partners. Since we develop it together, the budget is transparent. Everybody knows what we’re asking for money for and where it’s supposed to go.
The third level is that we've looked at the funding architecture that we're part of, so we are aware that a lot of the financing available for the issues that we work on is in the global north. And what we worked on is to make sure that the decisions about where that money goes can be taken in the Global South. Together we have been able to establish what we call regional funds or small grant funds in Brazil, Indonesia, India, and in certain parts of Africa, and these are activist-led. People in the region are in control over those funds. And they are also now positioned so strongly that they are fundraisers themselves, and we've been taken out of the equation.
The last part is that when we engage with funders, we put inclusive financing on the forefront of our conversations, even if it's funders that we work with already and that are not necessarily inclined to listen to that message. And one of the ways we do so is by having local partners at the table and explain why it's so important to look differently at funding.
Jenny, Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF): We lie at the heart of a growing movement to shift power in philanthropy and development. Let me start by differentiating between vertical finance and horizontal finance. By vertical finance I mean most of the money that's in the formal development and private philanthropy space that is intended to reach communities. A large part of that, despite the rhetoric, is largely exclusive, not inclusive. It's not just the quantity of the money. It's the quality of the money and the emphasis on process, on building voice that is really important.
The GFCF really focuses on a more horizontal type of finance. The idea that communities have resources – money, yes – but other resources such as assets, knowledge, connections, knowledge of the community, relationships, trust, social capital, all of these things that really matter. And these largely get written out of the equation in terms of the vertical finance framework.
We use grantmaking as a deliberate strategy to support organizations who want to become the kinds of organizations that Danielle was talking about – local funds, foundations, women’s funds. They themselves are grantmakers and are able to get resources deep into communities. Many of our partners around the world are able to make the $50, $500, $5000 grants, which is beyond the reach of most funders.
But it’s not just moving money, but shifting power and resources to groups themselves. Our partners are organizations that don't choose to make themselves big. They want to invest in the ecosystem around them. Our partners build local assets and resources, which could include money, but also governance of large scale assets. It’s the idea of harnessing, building, and holding assets close to the ground.
Using grantmaking effectively as a strategy for building local networks, getting resources into the community and mobilizing resources enables GFCF to manage and share power. What is often missing in the vertical finance world is trust. It's a system based on the flow of money, not really on the flow of trust.
GFCF tries to seed this emergent system of alternative ways of working. And yes, external money has a role to play. But the other piece of our work is a little bit more political around the narrative to shift the power, which is to say it's no longer okay to have the good rhetoric about shifting resources to the ground, we actually need to see it and make it happen.
We use our role as a network weaver to strengthen that demand side of systems change. This is about mobilizing the voice from the ground up, saying this is the system we want. We're already building our own systems and structures – help us to build these things. That's our role in the ecosystem.
Gemma, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), LAND-at-scale program: The LAND-at-scale program funds diverse interventions in 12 countries. These can be larger scale, multi-donor programs in which land is a component (e.g., in Somalia), but also smaller interventions. For example, in Chad, we work with the UN and with the national government on supporting a new land law, and we also fund a larger component through an NGO, which is focused on awareness raising of land rights.
And indeed, also currently the Netherlands is chairing the Global Donor Working Group on Land. The group comprises bilateral and multilateral donors, UN organizations and some philanthropic organizations funding land governance, and we meet about six times per year. Through the group we pushed for inclusion of the land indicators in the SDGs. For today, I will share mostly LAND-at-scale lessons, but I'm also very much listening today with a focus on what I can bring back to the group.
LAND-at-scale is programmatic, and we have the flexibility to use different financial instruments to support projects. We have time to really work with partners in countries to develop interventions. The project design is demand driven, based on what is identified as a priority topic to work on. And we find that the programmatic approach has offered us opportunities for supporting more local organizations as compared to a very standard subsidy grant program, which is more rigid.
The LAND-at-scale program has also led to some innovative partnerships. For example, partnerships in which more technical organizations are working together with advocacy organizations, or larger international organizations working with smaller NGOs under separate funding arrangements. We see a lot of value in these innovative partnerships.
If we do work with bigger organizations, we still ask those partners to include local organizations in their activities, to work with community based organizations. We know that local-embeddedness is crucial for the success of the intervention. Creating opportunities for local partners to feed back their experiences is a fundamental element.
We try to have inception phases for all of the activities that we have, which creates room for all different partners to be involved and to have reflections and ideas fed back into the design of the program.
We are no experts on inclusive finance, I would say, but we're very happy to learn and also well to share some of these very first lessons from three years of implementing LAND-at-scale.
Elizabeth, McLean Partnership on how she interprets these efforts that the panelists have described on inclusive financing:
Inclusivity is a grassroot effort, no matter who you are, no matter what organization or work you do. Grassroots means that local communities’ and local people’s voices need to be centered within your entire process from beginning to end.
Some organizations get information and data from local communities and groups, but then their workforce is not representative of those communities and groups. Your workforce needs to represent the communities that you're trying to support and that you're trying to fund.
There's a need to always bring it back to the grassroot and ask yourself, whose voices are we not hearing, and whose voices have we not taken into account? That's what it means to be inclusive. If those voices are not present, then you're essentially being exclusive.
It has to be a collaborative effort, and organizations have to remove a savior approach. I know when you're giving money, it tends to be that you hold most of the power. So there has to be a conscious decision that it's not only our funding, but we are also here to learn. It has to be a two way process.
That also means making sure that at all times your processes and procedures don't automatically exclude. Some processes automatically exclude the people that they are trying to help in the first place. And that just means you are perpetuating and only funding the same people again. There's a need to make sure that your processes are not overly tenuous and overly bureaucratic that you end up excluding people that you're trying to get to in the first place.
Get the rest of the conversation in English here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiVjtx2EMe4
The four-part webinar series provides a platform for different stakeholders engaged in land governance to exchange on the importance of inclusivity and meaningful participation of all relevant actors in both formal and informal land governance processes.