How does a fund for participatory grant making with a community building process of activists working around systemic change structure itself and imagine its own democratic design? Two of the thus far developed features are that of a FundAction Facilitation Group and working groups.

The first Facilitation Group (FG) of FundAction (FA) was set up in May 2017 for the period of one year, and was nominated from the first individuals present at the first FA meetings in Seville, Spain (December 2016) and La Bergerie, Villarceaux, France (February 2017). This first FG worked together to turn the idea of a participatory fund and platform into reality, guided by the decisions made at these first meetings. In this manner, they worked towards the setting up of FundAction from May to September 2017, as well as towards the first Rethink grants that followed that in November. The FG consisted of nine members, with seven activist representatives and two foundation (funder) representatives.

The intention was for the first iteration of the Facilitation Group to be a temporary committee, and that there would only be one funder representative. So, the process of developing a new FG began in spring 2018. During this first term of the FA facilitation group, it was evaluated that future FGs would be renewed for 50% with new members of the platform each year, to ensure continuity. Furthermore, to fit with the original intentions of the fund, and also following from feed-back received from FA members, the new FG would have an increased focus on facilitating the entire community to be included in all decision-making processes and to be provided with ongoing opportunities for involvement.

The FA’s first Assembly in April 2018 in La Bergerie then catered to these objectives by addressing both the issue of the FG renewal, as well by the creation of five working groups (with a possibility to create more groups if needed):

  • writing and communication
  • fundraising
  • process design
  • community building, and
  • legal issues

The working groups – which got their first members during the Assembly – are open to be joined by any interested FA members, and aim is for them to increasingly prepare issues in cooperation with the FG, which then following that are debated and decided by the community as a whole.

With regards to the FG renewal process itself, during the Assembly a specific session was devoted to this subject. Assembly participants were divided into discussions groups which assessed five proposals for the renewal of the FG :

  1. Lottery system
  2. Facilitation Group chooses members according to the skills needed
  3. Decided by a panel composed by 5 members and 2 FG members leaving their role
  4. Decided by a panel composed of 5 members, and
  5. Elections.

The most supported proposal by the groups was for the composition of the next FG to be ‘Decided by a panel composed by 5 members and 2 FG members leaving their role’. Subsequently then a group of volunteer FA members selected randomly and two persons leaving the Facilitation Group analyzed the nominations for the FG made during a survey period, and followingly came to a selection of four people according to the professional skills needed in the new FG and their background, gender and racial diversity as well as geographical scope.

The current FG consists of eight members (seven activist representatives and one foundation(funder) representative), and commenced its working in May 2018 :

  • Fania Noel
  • Ruby Van der Wekken
  • Iva Cukic
  • Ana Méndez de Andés
  • Lucas Tello
  • Rose Longhurst
  • Nico Haeringer
  • Menno Weijs (funder representative)

The FG in its current phase has been reviewing previous grant rounds and the whole FA process, and is in various ways taking forward the work around FA community building and process design, including the upcoming grant rounds and the next FA Assembly in May 2019, whilst putting efforts to strengthen this being done in dialogue with the working groups and through this with the whole FA community.

There will be a new Facilitation Group in 2019: nominations will be open in early 2019, with the intention of the group being in place to meet at the May 2019 Annual Assembly meeting. Unless there is another proposal (and you are welcome to make proposals!), the process will be the same as last time: two of the FG members who will be leaving (Lucas, Rose, Nico and Menno) will join five randomly selected members to decide who should replace them, taking into account skills and other criteria. So, if you would like to join the Facilitation Group, or you know someone in the membership who would be good, please nominate yourself or another candidate when the time comes!

(For more information on What does the Facilitation Group do?, please see the linked document that was presented at the Annual Assembly in 2018).

This article was written by Ruby van der Wekken, member of the Facilitation Group of FundAction.