Category Archives: Blog

Tools for Taking Social Complexity Seriously

Tools for Taking Social Complexity Seriously When I first started hearing folks talking about complexity and social change 10-15 years ago, I figured that was fine for the ecologists and physicists, but not much use to me. Yet the more I heard, the more the ideas started making intuitive sense to me. When you’re working […]

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Funders and Closing Space

Funders and Closing Space By Chris Allan What’s going on here? Internets of funders. Consulting contracts for services. Telling the story of the value of citizen action. Networks with multiple, diverse connections. Foundations and civil society organizations are finding ways around the ballooning restrictions on what citizens can do. These are just a few of […]

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Resilient Funders

Resilient Funders By Chris Allan It’s no secret it’s getting harder and harder for civil society organizations around the world to function, and for funders to support them. Dozens of countries are increasing restrictions on what civil society organizations can do, and from where they can get money. Funders and NGOs are pushing back, usually […]

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Democratizing Grantmaking

Democratizing Grantmaking By Chris Allan It’s hard to think of a sector with less accountability built in than philanthropy. So it’s up to us in the field itself to make sure that grantmakers are open and responsive to the folks we’re trying to help. I’ve just come from the annual EDGE Funders Alliance meeting, which […]

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Resilience and the Shape of Your Body

Resilience and the Shape of Your Body By Chris Allan We’ve all been there – a discussion about gender issues in international development deteriorates in a defensive exchange, and people finally give up, convinced that the other is too narrow minded to work with. So one of the most important factors in what makes some […]

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Partnership and Grantmaking

Partnership and Grantmaking By Chris Allan The lines between “donors” and “grantees” in the NGO world have become blurred in recent years. Partnership often involves money, and money always affects relationships. For most international networks, Southern partners are limited in capacity by the lack of access to funding that Northern partners have. Many networks try […]

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National Adaptation Forum — It’s not just about Ferguson

National Adaptation Forum — It’s not just about Ferguson By Chris Allan I’ve just returned from the National Adaptation Forum in St. Louis, which brings together people from across the United States to share practices on how we can adapt to climate change. The big development this year? Greatly expanded inclusion of poor and minority […]

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Learning to See Systems

The key to building resilience is to understand the systems that people depend on, and to figure out what they are vulnerable to. But seeing systems takes practice.

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Complex Adaptive Systems and Managing Social Change

I’ve always had a queasy feeling about how plan programs for social change. We know we’re supposed to analyze the problem, develop a goal, objectives, activities, indicators and resources. It all makes sense from a logical point of view. But, but…How often does social change happen logically?

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Supporting Social Movements with Grantmaking

As funders we often talk about supporting movements – the environmental movement, women’s movement, etc. Yet how do we do that? What does it mean to support a movement with grants?

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