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Driving Social Impact by Elevating Community Voices in International Development

Stacey Faella May 14, 2021

Across philanthropy and impact investing, well-intentioned grants and investments often miss the mark, with impact suffering and unintended consequences at times harming the very communities we aim to support. We can solve this problem by being more intentional about decolonizing social impact project design and capital deployment decision-making processes through elevating community voices. But what does that actually look like? There are some great models in international development that we can learn from.
In this session, the Woodcock Foundation will moderate a discussion with social change leaders who recognize the importance of community voices– and who go beyond deep listening to centering community leadership in the design and decision-making processes that drive change. For example, Spark MicroGrants has pioneered a community-driven development model that flips the funnel on international aid and builds community capacity to make collective decisions about how to invest in their own communities. Accountability Counsel advocates for feedback mechanisms in the impact investing industry that offer a channel for investors to hear from communities and address unintended impacts. The discussion will focus on how elevating community voices creates greater efficiency, minimizes risk, and drives sustainable change as we make philanthropic and investment decisions to create impact.



Meta Themes

  • Equity & Inclusion


equity and inclusion, impact investing, sustainable development, social entrepreneurship

Purpose and Desired Outcome

The goal of this session will be to raise awareness among grant makers and impact investors about the benefits of listening to the voices of community members in the places where we work in order to increase both the financial and social return on our investment (philanthropic or otherwise). Participants will learn from real examples of how projects go wrong when we aren't listening to communities-- and how they are more likely to succeed when we create mechanisms for community stakeholders to play a role in informing the design of solutions and providing feedback on projects designed to support them.


  • Allocators (Family Offices, HNW Individuals, Foundations)


  • NameSasha Fisher
  • TitleExecutive Director and Co-founder
  • OrganizationSpark MicroGrants
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameAllen Makabayi
  • TitleFCAP Design Director
  • OrganizationSpark MicroGrants
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameNatalie Bridgeman Fields
  • TitleExecutive Director & Founder
  • OrganizationAccountability Counsel
  • StatusConfirmed
  • NameGabino Vicente
  • TitleChinanteco Indigenous community leader
  • Organizationnone; Accountability Counsel community partner
  • StatusInvited
  • NameStacey Faella
  • TitleExecutive Director
  • OrganizationWoodcock Foundation
  • StatusConfirmed
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