SCCF has adopted the grassroots style of grant making. “Grassroots grant making brings the community to the foundation and the foundation to the community.” Grassroots grant making is a place-based grant making approach that focuses on strengthening and connecting resident-led organizations and their leaders in rural communities. Typically, it is aimed at strengthening the capacity of people who come together to improve their communities through projects and activities that they initiate and manage. More often than not, funders involved in this type of grant making combine modest grants with technical assistance, training, leadership development, convening to enable grantees to become better connected with one another and other resources in the community. Grassroots grant makers:
Address local priorities—helping residents tackle the challenges they define as most important;
Value civic engagement—helping people practice and grow the habit of active citizenship;
Building community—helping individuals come together to improve the quality of life where they live.
Why grassroots grant making?
Many funders have found that grassroots grant making programs are highly cost effective, yielding results that are more significant than the grant dollars would have suggested. Typically, grants support the work of passionate residents – work that is often low-cost in nature and depends on volunteer commitment rather than paid professional help. In addition to projects, there are other important by-products of the grant awards – renewed hope and pride, increased citizen participation and community leadership – and these inevitably spillover to positively impact other quality of life issues.
Grassroots grant making can also have significant benefits for the funding organization itself: new relationships and perspectives that inform other program areas, increased credibility as an entity that has deep knowledge and understanding about its community, and opportunities to create new partnerships with donors, local governments, and other philanthropies. Grassroots grant making is a strategy that contributes to a funder’s capacity to serve as a community leader, demonstrates its commitment to community accountability, and underscores the funding organization’s unique position in its community.
As a priority strategy for engaging and advancing all voices within a community, for connecting with marginalized segments of the community, and for strengthening community leadership, more and more funders are finding that grassroots grant making generates a significant return on their investment.