We announced the Small Grants Programme a few days ago. We’ve had a few applications on the forum and in email. It struck us, as we were going through this, that we will not be able to reach out to numerous orgs out there working on the ground because of the restrictions online interface and English represent
Even as we ponder over this, do reach out and recommend/connect orgs you know that might be good fits for the grant, but unable to reach us or learn about this. Please also share ideas around how we might be able to circumvent this issue both in terms of reach and interface.
As we wait for your inputs, we are setting up a phone number for people comfortable with conversing in Kannada and Hindi. We will update here once the number is set up for people to call us and pitch ideas and projects over calls.
The problem is in two parts - accessibility and structural issues.
Accessibility can be solved for through making yourself available in multiple language formats, accepting paper applications etc. I think Zerodha/Rainmatter have the tools for that.
Structural issues include hierarchy, lack of information and unavailability of bridges. Elaborating below:
Hierarchy: Several small, community based orgs are working as partners of larger orgs. Prime examples like Save the Children, CRY, WWF etc. This has been ongoing for decades since donors don’t want to engage with smaller non-profits. This inherently blocks and limits ability of smaller ones to absorb capital and overall their capacity to manage capital is constrained. This brings me to the second point.
Lack of information: This trickle down arrangement from donors to large non-profits to smaller orgs essentially means all information is also controlled/channeled via the big ones. Smaller orgs largely rely on the big ones to do research, co-create programs and drive direction. Very few have their own thinking. There is also little to connect them to the larger ecosystem.
Unavailability of bridges: Essentially, since everything is available only to a few, many bridges/intermediaries/people are needed to take things to the ground. Which is the problem you’re facing.
Short term solutions can be:
Diffusing information to existing networks of environmental orgs. Might need some quick emailing, connecting. Think Earthian, Bangalore Sustainability Forum, Barefoot college, FES etc.
Using networks of incubators, aggregators etc. - think Ashoka, ICC, Give India, dev-creative lists, TFIx, Plustrust etc.
Reaching out to some non-profit influencers. All would be willing to help spread the word. Ingrid Srinath, Puja Marwaha, Venkat Krishnan, Ujwal Thakar, and many others.
Long term: Important to deploy resources to just travel, meet and connect with people. Including launching grassroots fellowships to nurture work towards climate change.