My short analysis of Dalia Association’s learning from reporting is available on pp. 118-121-155 of the fabulous book, “Smart Risks: How Small Grants are Helping to Solve Some of the World’s Biggest Problems,” edited by Jennifer Lentfer and Tanya Cothran. Contact me or the editors should you wish to schedule a book event or media coverage. Get info about how to buy the book here: https://www.smartrisks.org/ and spread the word!
Excerpt from “Does Your Financial Report Make People Feel Poor?”
We didn’t realize the financial report could contradict everything we were trying to do.
When time came for the community groups, or grantees, to submit their narrative and financial reports (not only to Dalia Association, but to the entire village in an open, public meeting), we realized we had made a grave mistake. The reports showed how each shekel (approximately 25 cents) had been spent. But where was the grantees’ local contribution? The village hall that was used for training sessions, the time of the women who cooked food for participants, the office supplies they got from the municipality, and so much more—none of this was reflected on the financial report. Therefore, these local resources had no apparent value, and we knew this was inaccurate….
In fact, many funders, large and small, recognize the importance of local contributions. People who invest in their own projects have more incentive to sustain them over the long term. But there is something different and powerful in the way Dalia Association conceptualizes the local contribution. Many funders just ask for a percentage to be listed on the grant application, thus encouraging applicants to inflate their costs to make it appear that they are contributing money they don’t actually have. Instead, what I have described is a process that helps local people determine the dollar value of what they already give. The village hall, the food cooked for participants, and the office supplies all have a value of which people can be proud. It’s a process that consciously seeks to undo damage caused by decades of dependence on international aid. It’s a process that helps people re-focus on the value of what they do have rather than on the cash they lack. And it’s a process that reminds them that their giving – not external aid – is what keeps their communities going.
Read the rest of the story in Smart Risks, and please share your own experiences trying to fairly and accurately acknowledge local contributions.