Representatives from grantmakers across Africa joined together in Nairobi to discuss how small grants can mobilize social change. One of the resounding messages that was repeated throughout the day is that ‘small’ grants are not small at all. In fact, for these grantmakers, most of whom are making grants of around US$5,000, ‘small’ grants for local organizations can have a bigger impact than the huge chunks of cash poured into larger NGOs.
Participants articulated the power of complementing local leadership with broader networks to achieve change at multiple levels – community, nation, region. Many highlighted the incredible successes that local groups were able to achieve; successes that were set in motion by grants of only a few hundred dollars in some cases.
For small, local organizations, small grants can be major stepping stones. They can fund infrastructure and staffing, and build the capacity of local leaders to take their work to the next level. They can enable exchanges among communities facing similar issues and unite diverse constituencies.
Above all, it is not about the money itself. Money does not create change. But comprehensive support and mentorship can. Pouring millions of dollars into a particular problem is no guarantee of its resolution. But if accompanied by careful and thoughtful mentorship and capacity building, a small grant can resonate in a powerful way.
[Excerpt of Global Greengrants Fund article]