Experiencing the Grant Givers Programme

By Amel Hamilton

The Grant Givers’ Programme is intentionally designed for those working within the philanthropic sector, with the aim of creating space away from their everyday work to think about the best ways in which philanthropy can be used to advance social justice. Over the past four cohorts, I have had the fortunate opportunity to curate and facilitate the Grant Givers’ Programme, providing me with a wealth of knowledge and learning. In order to create such a space, the Grant Givers’ Programme consists of a range of topics that are frequently reviewed such as ‘Exploring Your Proximity to Power’, ‘Understanding Systems Change’ and ‘Reparative Climate Justice’ amongst many more, by a number of excellent speakers. The programme’s participants are a mixture of seniority levels and due to our partnership with 2027, there are several participants that are new to the sector.  We have found that this offers a strong learning environment for everyone involved to share ideas and methods surrounding grantmaking supportively and as such, the programme has had over  150 participants.

Alongside the seven-speaker sessions, the Grant Givers’ programme also consists of two ‘Review and Reflect’ sessions and a workshop providing an insight into the various communities that we serve. The ‘Review and Reflect’ sessions allow us to revisit any moments of tension or difficulty throughout the speaker sessions which I have found helps to foster a space that is inquisitive, honest and judgement-free, with a focus on learning from one another as well as during speaker sessions. It’s worth noting that the Grant Givers’ Programme is meant to stretch the thinking of our participants and the space is there for them to share their views, both in agreement and opposition. It has been extremely heartwarming to see cohort members keep in touch with one another and continue to support each others learning in a variety of ways, including meeting regularly as a cohort. Every cohort is highly unique and whilst the planning is meticulous, individual cohorts have their own idiosyncrasies, which is wondrous to see unfold.

The Grant Givers’ Programme is dynamic and responsive to the needs of the sector and its participants. Of course, the pandemic moved the programme from in-person to online, however serendipitously, this has allowed for the programme to boast a range of international speakers and has also widened the geographical scope for its participants nationally. The feedback that we receive from participants is also invaluable and has guided us to continue to curate new iterations of the programme. Our most recent changes include newly streamlined communications on Slack, synthesised briefings and slightly shorter sessions to allow for easier scheduling amid the workday.

We aim for the Grant Givers’ Programme to bring topical discussions to those working within the sector in an authentic, open and warm way. Honing in on making the space as conducive to this as possible from the beginning of my involvement by listening and having frank conversations with participants has been a pleasure. I encourage anyone who is interested in the Grant Givers’ Programme to get in touch. For those interested in attending the next cohort beginning in April 2023, please contact Dean.

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