Since the implementation of our strategic framework, IFIP’s global community is growing. This includes Indigenous-led funds that are shaping the thinking on ‘Indigenous and Intercultural Philanthropy’. These funds are led by and for Indigenous Peoples. They signal the rising leadership of Indigenous Peoples in the funding community and play a critical role in supporting Indigenous communities globally. Indigenous-led Funds are vast resources of knowledge and skills and have tools that can amplify and increase the effectiveness of philanthropy to advance Indigenous Peoples’ priorities and rights. IFIP’s long- term vision is to provide a platform to support Indigenous-led funds (ILFs) with tools, research and exchanges as they strengthen and deepen funding and impact. This was the impetus of IFIP’s first two ILF gatherings, which is part of our continued collaboration to create more visibility around the leadership and impact of these groups.
The first ILFs’ global gathering took place as a pre-conference event before IFIP’s 2018 Global Indigenous Funders Conference in collaboration with the Mino Niibi Fund and the PAWANKA Fund. This historic event was the first time ILFs from across the world met to connect, dialogue, and build relationships with each other. There were 18 different organizations represented of the 34 that were invited. The gathering brought together established and new ILFs to dialogue and build relationships. A critical takeaway from the gathering involved identifying three connectors that define Indigenous-led and intercultural funding. First and foremost these funds are led by and for Indigenous Peoples. These funds prioritize empowering processes at the local level. Respondents indicated that grantmaking was not simply about giving money to a project; rather they are about supporting a process for the empowerment of the communities so they can change paradigms or shift power relations. These three connectors became the framing of the second Indigenous-led gathering, where we explored how to best support funds to empower processes from the local to a global level. The funds also dialogued about peer-to-peer learning exchanges and co -creating a roadmap of ILFs and deepening allyship in mainstream philanthropy.
Graphic Recording done by Jeska Slater during the Second Gathering of Indigenous Led Funds. Photo Credit: Rucha Chitnis
The second gathering was held in Calgary, Canada, right before the Circle’s ‘All My Relations Conference’ in June 2019. The gathering was co-organized by The Circle, the PAWANKA Fund and Colorado Plateau Foundation. It was an important opportunity to drill down on the questions developed from the connectors above and create a roadmap for the future of these funds. For the attendees, adopting the concept of Indigenous development is critical to ensure the growth of more funds. The delegates recognized that Indigenous Peoples have been giving since the beginning of time and that they needed to fund initiatives of cultural resurgence and reinstating traditional accountability structures. This can be supported by capacity building within community groups through mentorship, guidance and legal help. The groups also recognized that amplifying their stories is a powerful way to influence wider philanthropy. We recognized the potential of Indigenous-led funds to nourish a culture of sharing, where they can interweave their stories into a collective message. Allies in turn can listen and have difficult conversations with others in philanthropy on the imbalance of power relations. One concrete outcome of the gathering was the new Indigenous-Led Funds Working Group that will be hosted by IFIP. We hope this working group will provide a collaborative space to convene and shape this collective vision, while creating a roadmap of the future.
As a network focused on transforming funding practices, IFIP believes ILFs play an important role in informing and advocating for a new paradigm of giving and funding practices, one that moves away from unequal power dynamics in traditional funding practices to one of values-based partnerships that incorporate IFIP’s ‘4Rs’ to reframe funding relationships for greater impact. This new paradigm of giving advocates for giving based on the values of respect, reciprocity, responsibility and relationships, one that respects and values Indigenous Peoples. This is why, in addition to supporting these funds, we want to ensure IFIP’s wider global community learns from this exciting development of a new paradigm of giving that we hope leaves a critical footprint in the global philanthropic community.