Key Points

Because small, community-based organizations play a critical role in delivering services and expressing diverse community values, it is important to find ways to minimize disparities in their access to philanthropic resources. Participatory grantmaking is widely viewed as a practice with good potential to mitigate this tendency.

This article addresses the design of this approach to grantmaking and, specifically, whether changing the decision-making process in addition to changing the decisionmakers has an effect on how grants are allocated. It examines the design of two grant review processes — one based on popular voting, the other a more traditional rubric approach — and compares their outcomes to learn whether a more open and discursive process based on popular voting for grantee selection helps to overcome bias against small organizations.

The article concludes with research implications for participatory grantmaking and grantmaking practice. It is hoped that these findings will contribute to the growing body of empirical knowledge around the design of participatory grantmaking processes.

Open Access