Two recent Twitter Chats raise the question: Is it #TimeToRedefine philanthropy? 

Those active in the Twitterverse may have taken note of two recent Twitter Chats, which each raised some fundamental questions around power and resources in philanthropy, as well as philanthropy’s relationship with grassroots actors. Both chats, approaching the topics from different angles, had participants questioning if it isn’t #TimeToRedefine philanthropy?

The first was held in October 2018, in the run-up to the Africa Philanthropy Network (APN) conference. The GFCF teamed up with the APN, Kenya Community Development Foundation and TrustAfrica in the organization of a Twitter Chat to delve into the term “intermediary”, and to explore if it – literally – isn’t time to redefine and reimagine how we refer to many southern development organizations that play a bridging role in their own country / region / sector. The chat explored alternatives to the term, which it was broadly agreed tends to side-line southern organizations – their knowledge of, proximity to, and rootedness in local contexts unappreciated when they are so narrowly classified. Participants agreed that, more than simple intermediaries that move money, they see their role as being in solidarity with social and grassroots movements, enabling such groups to benefit from philanthropic support that they likely wouldn’t otherwise access. Have a look at the full intermediaries Twitter Chat here.

The next Chat, hosted by Thousand Currents in early December, convened grantmakers for a discussion around collective efforts to #RedefinePhilanthropy. It highlighted best practices for sharing power within grantmaking, and tested strategies for making philanthropy more diverse and inclusive. Drawing on powerful examples from around the world, the chat was a reminder that we as grantmakers need to be: more responsive to, and understanding of, the groups we support; more inclusive of previously unrecognized voices; and, more courageous in the face of political and corporate capture. Check out the highlights of the #RedefinePhilanthropy Twitter Chat here. 

The question that remains is – will discussions such as these lead to a sea change in the sector? Or rather, will it be hard to see change?