Key Points

Mexico is going through a transition from traditions of authoritarian, top-down social and political management that have tended to marginalize the efforts of community groups in addressing social and environmental challenges.

While there are many important questions about strengthening civil society organizations in general, grassroots groups in particular are challenged by the weak enabling environment for social action.

Despite this, the Action in Solidarity Fund has found that it is very possible for philanthropists to reach small grassroots groups with the support they need and to begin to strengthen the social fabric for communities to act on their own behalf. This article shares lessons from the fund’s experience in grassroots philanthropy.

Effective support must go back to the basics and build trust, networks, and collaboration as key elements of solidarity. Financial support must be built around the objectives, knowledge, and understanding of grassroots groups in order to lay a foundation for them to learn and act on their own initiatives. This financial support needs to be accessible to these groups and to incorporate philanthropic approaches that promote a self-sustaining social capacity to act on issues and priorities.

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