Power and Engagement

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Last week I blogged from San Diego while co-delivering Engage for Results with my colleague Melinda Weekes to a group of grantmakers in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. This session focused on engagement strategies to help foundations be more effective and accountable as funders and providers of other important resources to their grantees, surrounding communities, and other funders.  The end of our first day focused on power as an ever-present dynamic, not just in the foundation-grantee dynamic, but also in a number of other dimensions of difference within and beyond organizational walls.

The question of power also came up during a conversation with some of my IISC colleagues yesterday about a nascent network of social justice funders, and during our webinar on Tuesday through the Leadership Learning Community, as participants wondered how to address power when trying to cultivate collective leadership.  One of our responses was to not shy away from the conversation, to acknowledge that power is always present, takes on different forms, and figures prominently in the endeavor of identifying stakeholders and throughout any given social change process. 

An interesting point was made in San Diego that foundations do themselves a disservice when they refer to and think of themselves only as “grantmakers,” overlooking other critical resources they have at their disposal in terms of knowledge to be shared, critical connections to be facilitated, and convening power to be leveraged. The video above was created especially for our Engage for Results workshop, and it offers some interesting perspectives on power and how we might engage it.  Curious to get your take and thoughts.

And for further reflections on power, make sure to check out my colleague Linda Guinee’s posts on the topic:

What’s Power Got to Do With It?

What Is Power Anyway?

Where Does Power Come From?

Narrative and Power in Groups

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