An interesting blog post from Duncan Green at Oxfam - his blog is well worth following if you don't already. Two things struck me as being relevant for OCF, and other community foundations.
The first is whether power is a zero-sum game - if you give power to others, does that mean your own power or the power of a third party is diminished? In order to increase one person's power do we have to take power from someone else?
I firmly believe we don't. My view is that if more people have the power to engage, inform and make decisions, we will make better decisions. If more people have agency to operate and do what they want to do, we will have greater capacity to do the things that we need to do.
Secondly is the idea of power 'within', 'with', 'to' and 'over'. As a grant funder, we have the potential to have power over other organisations; but we are clear that we would rather work with people and organisations on the front line to decide how and where resources can best be used to benefit local communities. This does create the potential for conflicts of interest, but we need to manage those in order to ensure that the decisions made about resource usage are informed by diverse local perspectives.
one person’s ‘empowerment’ need not come at the expense of others; in fact all can benefit