Funding Community Organizing

Social Change Through Civic Participation


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Grantmakers who fund community organizing say it's the best option when you want to promote civic engagement and support lasting solutions to a community's problems. Yet many funders, concerned about the ability to measure its impact and effectiveness, hesitate to take up community organizing as a strategy. In this guide, funders and organizers discuss what makes community organizing unique and uniquely effective, how to manage grantee relationships over time, understanding the value of process, and the grantmaker's special role in fostering change.

  • The benefits and methods of community organizing 
  • Points of entry for grantmakers
  • Mapping resources and power 
  • When a grantee is under attack 

While developing this guide, grantmakers offered a wide range of resources in several areas of community organizing. We've compiled a web-only list that includes books, films, articles, research reports, toolkits, and more.


sample quotes

"By putting regular people squarely in the middle of the action about how to effect positive social change, it says you're an actor who can make a difference, not a victim, not someone just acted upon." 

- A contributor to the guide on what distinguishes
community organizing from other tactics

"The program officer is a bridge builder between the community and the board room, and nowhere is this possibly more true than in the funding of organizing."  

- A former funder on the grantmaker's role as "translator"

"[There's] as much to gain from growth in leadership abilities, self-confidence, and civic participation as from seemingly hard outcomes like changes in the crime rate, school test scores, or access to health care."

-A grantmaker on evaluating process as much as
"hard" outcomes in organizing


More on this subject

Community Development: A Guide for Grant Makers on Fostering Better Outcomes Through Good Process

Bill Potapchuk of Community Building Institute and Malka Kopell of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Can collaborative process inspire more effective community development efforts? The authors of this guide think so, based on analysis of programs supported by the Hewlett Foundation. The emphasis is on what constitutes "good process" and how grantmakers can work with local stakeholders to integrate it into community development initiatives. Includes a resource list and a practical "What Grantmakers Can Do" section. [PDF - 48 pages]

Community Organizing Resources
Several grantmakers, including Cyrus Driver and the Working Group on Education Organizing of the Ford Foundation, and Maria Mottola and Kevin Ryan of the New York Foundation shared books, films, toolkits, and other resources for grantmakers interested in supporting community organizing. A print version of the list is available here.?[PDF - 7 pages]