Discussing Participatory Funding with Meg Massey and Ben Wrobel: Episode 65 of Money + Meaning

Alex Kravitz June 16, 2021

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Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey, authors of the book ‘Letting Go’, discuss the need for philanthropists and impact investors to cede control of funding decisions

“Most funders are acting in good faith. They see poverty or other issues in the world and they genuinely want to address them. It’s a matter of bringing some humility to that and saying ‘I see this through the lens of my experience. I need to gut check all this with people who are actually experiencing (the issue).’’

“Impact investing is ultimately derived from finance. It adopts the same fund structures, the same scaffolding, as traditional investing, which means it comes with all the good and all the bad of traditional investing. If (the field) truly does want to differentiate itself from traditional investing, it’s not just about what you invest in – it’s about how you invest.”

In their new book ‘Letting Go’, Ben Wrobel and Meg Massey make the case that in order to effectively tackle social challenges, philanthropists and impact investors need to cede control to people with lived experience of the challenges they are trying to solve. Whether philanthropic funding or impact investing, they advocate for funding models that center the participation of the impacted communities at every stage of the investment process. Identifying three key funding stages – determining the investment thesis, building a pipeline of potential deals, and making the final funding decision – Wrobel and Massey highlight examples of organizations using innovative ways to shift power away from traditional top-down models.

During this episode of Money + Meaning, Meg and Ben join host, Alex Kravitz, to discuss the origin of the participatory funding movement, examples of innovative organizations working to center community voice, and some of the differences between building participation into philanthropic grantmaking vs. impact investing.

Featured Voices

Meg Massey

Hosted by: Alex Kravitz

Ben Wrobel

Additional Resources

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Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.

Impact Funds / Impact Investing / Institutional Investing
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