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Call for Interest: Join the Power Footprint Project!

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September 28th, 2022

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This post was co-authored by members of the Power Footprint Open Sessions and updated in spring 2023.

As funders and international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), we most often have disproportionate power in relation to local and national organizations. Hence the important advocacy around locally-led/driven solutions, diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI), shifting the power, and decolonizing aid and development. These efforts, however, may veer off into inauthenticity if they don’t also reduce the power footprints of international organizations. We’re therefore calling on YOU to join this aspirational force to ensure all these efforts take our power footprints into account! 

By power, we mean authority, control, and influence. The Power Footprint of an organization thus represents the amount of authority, control, and influence an organization has within a given system. International organizations and funders in the social good space are unlikely to become more effective, relevant, or transparent until we correct the fundamental power asymmetries within our ecosystems. Measuring and reducing our power footprints is essential to remedying these asymmetries. 

The Power Footprint Project will co-create practical metrics to propel any organization’s effectiveness, relevance, and accountability by measuring its power footprint. Starting with a 7-month Proof of Concept, the first phase seeks to co-design a set of approximately 5-7 metrics by which actors in the development space can self-assess their power footprint, and track how it changes over time. To enable longitudinal self-assessment, 3 coalitions will be formed among Global South organizations, funders, and a small number of first international organizations.

This is not an academic exercise. It's about co-creating and connecting practical coalitions to grow the social movement for transformative systems change in the social good sector. 

The coalitions will co-create guiding principles, a framework for evaluation, and metrics, which will then be tested via a prototyping phase by first international organizations. Furthermore, a dissemination planning stage will include building outreach materials and identifying a sustainable outreach and longevity strategy. While this will be a collaborative co-creation process with many types of stakeholders, we will also engage relevant researchers and review literature on power, definitions of power, and types of power, and identify best practices concerning shifting power dynamics where available.

This is not an academic exercise. Neither is it an add-on standard to pre-existing methods. The Power Footprint Project is about building the new. It is about co-creating and connecting practical coalitions to grow the social movement for transformative systems change in the social good sector.

Continuing to ignore our power footprints will result in an even more dysfunctional social good sector when we face multiple planetary-wide emergencies.

One of our aspirations is for funders to begin including formal power footprint requirements in every new grant they issue. That is, as international organizations, we should be required to actively reduce our power footprints with every new grant we implement, regardless of the context or grant. Powerful Global South Organizations may also consider doing the same to account for power asymmetries in regional and subnational contexts. However, this will be left for them to decide together with local organizations in the coalition. Reducing our power footprints will enable all of us, INGOs, funders, and Global South Organizations, to become more effective and accountable to the communities we serve. 

Continuing to ignore our power footprints will result in an even more dysfunctional social good sector when we face multiple planetary-wide emergencies. This explains why the Power Footprint Project feels the urgency to complement and support the many other existing initiatives. We are one of many. 

The purpose of this Call for Interest is to invite funders, leaders from Global South Organizations as well as leaders from INGOs to get in touch should they be interested in joining one of the 3 coalitions. This is a leadership development opportunity, and new voices are especially encouraged to join. Registration is closed.

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