Community-led development and Equitable Access

For the past 12+ months, PSYDEH uses our voice as a leader in community-led development (CLD) to promote more equitable access to resources through online crowdfunding platforms like USA/UK-based GlobalGiving (GG). A greater focus on equitable access, not just equal access, benefits non-profits like PSYDEH in Mexico and across the global south.

PSYDEH, Community-Led Development & Local Equitable Access

Our novel, process-oriented model, explained in this 2020 article, empowers citizens, especially women, to drive development from the bottom up in their own marginalized communities. It is born from PSYDEH’s desire to work ourselves out of a job in target areas within a reasonable time frame, out of our belief that citizens’ rights come with responsibilities when solving if they want smart solutions to their problems. For Mexican and other democracies, “experts need to remember, always, that they are the servants of a democratic society and a republican government… In the absence of informed citizens … more knowledgeable administrative and intellectual elites do in fact take over the daily direction of the state and society.” Indeed, a CLD-project goal should be establishing a measurable point for transitioning from one women-friendly citizen group to another demanding the skills they need to wield their rights and responsibilities to solve problems, i.e. creating the foundation for demanding and producing equitable access to resources. 

Promoting more equitable access at the global level

In late-2019, PSYDEH was one of four nonprofits globally, the only from Latin America, invited by GG to their headquarters in Washington, DC for the launch of their initiative called “the Neutrality Paradox,” produced with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here, we shared and learned with stakeholders about the nature of this paradox and how we all can best navigate it. During and post this experience, PSYDEH began its strategic nudge of platforms to migrate towards equitable access. As we wrote in the post-convening survey when asked about who else GG should include in this conversation,

Branko Milanovic (Serb-American economist at the World Bank, author of Global Inequality), Thomas Pickety (French-economist at Paris School of Economics and the International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics, author of Capital in the 21st Century), and Elizabeth Anderson, chair of the department of philosophy at the University of Michigan and leading theorist of democracy and social justice. Milanovic and Pickety, experts on understanding and diminishing wealth-and income inequality, offer insight into potential differences between “open access” and “equitable access” and what this means for global (or even) national platforms with social missions smartly managing the neutrality paradox. Anderson could speak to the tension between equality, neutrality and being partisan and how it might be a both/and issue for platforms and intermediaries.

We continued nudging GG to think locally via a focus on equitable access. For example, when considering an early iteration of a potential guide for stakeholders managing the neutrality paradox, we suggested including mention of how organizations that bridge the space between people and resources, i.e., offer access, might want to consider the nature of the access we can or should facilitate when pondering the paradox. Such language was necessary, we argued, because,

“If the neutrality paradox requires managing the tension between equal access and complicated facts-on-the-ground-neutrality dilemmas, do we need to unpack (i) what we mean by equal access as compared to equitable access, and (ii) how these concepts may vary in their application when viewed from nation-centric platforms (BetterPlace or GiveLively or CharityNavigator) as compared to global-centric platforms (GlobalGiving)?”

Thrilled to see GG leadership open to our nudges, and how we were aligned with their own thinking, PSYDEH agreed to participate in a Design Sprint in April 2020. It was GG’s effort to put some teeth to the theoretical thinking hatched in Washington, DC, including how skills-and experience-building initiatives could help local-focused actors solve their own problems so as to avoid the paradox altogether. 

Promoting similar from the Mexican national level

We executed our strategy as a national mentor for GG’s Mexican nonprofit network in 2019-2020 (thanks to PSYDEH’s General Coordinator Jorge Echeverria’s leadership), including our end-of-term presentation in English in front of their full global project team in Spring 2020. Here, we again nudged them at the global and Mexican national level to migrate towards offering not just equal access but equitable access, including by providing ideas on how they might do so. 

Now what?

We pursue more ways to invite movement towards equitable access. Just yesterday, PSYDEH’s Mahathi Kumar published an article explaining a bit more about how we see equitable access linked with the neutrality paradox.

We are active in GG’s effort to rethink how it facilitates its Annual Girl Fund in 2021, which, we have never been able to access even though we are highly qualified because we are too small. For example, about two months back, we teamed up with another GG partner, a London-based non-profit focused on Africa, to encourage a local solution-oriented, equitable-access focus with the Fund. It seems our thinking resonates. According to a recent ideation seminar with organizations like PSYDEH around the world, GG explains that they are evolving their vision for the Annual Girl Fund. PSYDEHs of the world might just have a chance to win in 2021!

In addition, GG nears completion of an important global research project with strategic input from Mexico’s own FASOL on the value and nature of the equitable access-oriented, community-led development sector. This is great news. One, PSYDEH is ahead of the pack as a leader in the community-led development field; we agree 100% that relationship building is essential to sustainable problem-solving. Two, GG sees this and listens to us, among the 3000+ nonprofits in their global network, recognizing the unique challenge and importance of effectively conveying why multi-faceted community-led work should be supported by donors. In so doing, they encourage more nonprofit partners to migrate towards this sector. Three, with funders and practitioners evolving their thinking and doing around the community-led development sector, we will have, many others like PSYDEH will have, more opportunities to win in 2021 and beyond.

To learn more about GG’s new research initiative, see this article and click on their report (RIGHT) to read preliminary research findings. To learn more about why PSYDEH thinks our community-led development work is needed, see this white paper.




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