Big money often gets big attention. That is, when millions are doled out by wealthy individuals, corporations, or foundations the amounts are plastered across national headlines. However, little is ever reported on the outcome of these large investments, and whether or not the investment lives up to expectations.

Grassroots grantmaking seeks to balance out some of the flaws inherent in sweeping, headline-making, philanthropic gestures. Following up on a recent webinar on grassroots grantmaking, the Alliance blog attempts to define best practices for this form of funding:

  1. Grassroots grants are generally small (less than $5,000). Although the term “microgrants” might imply that small money achieves small impact, this type of grant often allows organizational innovation and flexibility.
  2. Grassroots grantmakers understand that in a strained economy, non-financial assistance is crucial for achieving maximum impact with small organizations – and human capital will continue to grow in importance as the funding climate stagnates.
  3. Investing in participatory partnerships with the community and grantees is a cornerstone of grassroots grantmaking. Funds from CAAP’s general grantmaking are crowdsourced from members of the Arab American community, and distributed according to who is achieving the greatest impact with available resources.

For more on grantmaking from the grassroots, this guide gives a pretty comprehensive overview. The Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) invests in grassroots partner organizations working to create a voice for Arab Americans through arts, culture, and human services. In addition, the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) provides non-financial capacity-building assistance to many of CAAP’s grantees. Learn more about these organizations, and view our latest grants here.

Photo courtesy Flickr user HarshPatel;Photographer

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