Does Size Matter? Grant Size Crucial Factor in Indigenous Funding

The size of grants to indigenous communities is often determined by the capability of the organizations funded. Some foundations prefer to fund indigenous communities through an intermediary or large organization, such as a multinational environmental group. These grants tend to be bigger and often renewed. Others work through regional indigenous groups. While not true for all funders, many that give directly to indigenous organizations
tend to give smaller grants over a longer period of time.

The Ford Foundation directs most of its indigenous-related grantmaking to larger institutions based in medium-sized or capital cities. Grantees must be legally registered, and have the capacity to handle large grants. The foundation prefers to give grants of at least $50,000, usually for twelve months. “Not all local, community-based organizations have the capacity to manage that size grant, since it comes with a complex set of legal requirements,” said Monica Aleman of Ford Foundation. 

Intermediaries often give smaller grants directly to local indigenous groups. FIMI’s AYNI Fund gives $5,000 to grassroots women’s groups who may have no official registration or little administrative infrastructure. “The amount of money is not very high, but what they are doing with these amounts is incredible,” said Mariana Lopez of FIMI.

Smaller grants are generally more manageable for small, indigenous organizations that have less experience with international funding. Once they are more established and have the capacity to handle the paperwork required by larger grants, they often seek general operating support for the staff needed to administer and report on the funding.

The Samdhana Institute gives small grants (between $5,000 to $10,000) and medium grants that range between $10,000 to $50,000 to groups in the Philippines and Indonesia. Its criteria on the size of grant depends on the plan of the grantee community. “The community will always be there, whether or not there are donors,” said Nonette Royo. “The success of how they handle funds, small, medium, or bigger grants, is really based on their vision and what is required to get where they want to go.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Funding Indigenous Peoples.