The Blueprint is a document about social change, written for change makers. The focus of the Blueprint is to show how individuals working within grassroots organizations can use finance as a tool in their work, whether by disrupting or influencing current systems, forging new alliances or partnerships with individuals and organizations that are already using finance for social change, or by crafting new models that fundamentally shift how power operates in the economic and financial relationships within a community.
The Blueprint does not assume expertise in finance or investment but recognizes that shaping financial systems is not on the agenda of many grassroots organizations. Rather, the Blueprint assumes that the reader has experience engaging, challenging, and shifting systems of power, experience that can be applied to financial systems. While using systems of finance for social change may be a new area of work, the barrier to entry may not be as high as anticipated and can build on the networks, power, skills, and experience that grassroots organizations already have at their disposal.
Furthermore, grassroots organizations who uncover opportunities to use finance to create transformative social change do not need to work alone or take on everything by themselves in order to implement a new project or vision. Rather they can align their strategy with their existing skills and strengths, while identifying new collaborators who can help shape ideas, bring in new allies, and carry the work forward in partnership.
Who can use this Blueprint?
Grassroots organizations come in many shapes and sizes. For the purposes of this Blueprint, we have focused broadly on local organizations that are developing solutions that are designed and led by impacted communities and driven by community demand. This includes a wide variety of community-based organizations, as well as indigenous tribes, local chapters of unions, religious congregations, networks or coalitions of grassroots organizations that are coordinating activities among various community groups, campaigns started by local activists, and more. These organizations, at their core, are inherently skilled at shifting traditional power norms away from “trickle-down” solutions toward new models and practices that value the knowledge and agency of local communities.
Although grassroots organizations are our key audience, we see the lessons in the Blueprint as highly relevant for a wide array of organizations and individuals, such as the philanthropic community, corporations, and donor agencies.
In addition, investment professionals can make use of this Blueprint to think through how to effectively collaborate with grassroots organizations and other change-making organizations.
Please share any reflections or stories you may have with Christina Madden, madden at criterioninstitute dot org.