Tracing how governance shapes and limits approaches to poverty reduction, the influence of funders : a case study of two poverty reduction organizations




McKitrick, Annie Jeanne Francoise

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Communities throughout Canada are organizing to find ways to support people living in poverty and remove the barriers that create or keep people living in marginal conditions. There appears to be no “right” way to create an organizational structure that is effective; communities take a variety of approaches and are inventing or adapting models to meet local needs. With limited funding dollars available, funders' involvement in the governance and decision-making of organizations that they also fund raises the question of how their involvement constrains or enhances the organization. This report seeks to document the role of funders through the study of two poverty reduction organizations in neighbouring Lower Mainland municipalities. The process of data collection and what was available and not available publicly led to new areas of inquiry. The data collected demonstrated that the presence of funders and their leadership helped in bringing “leaders” to a community table to reduce poverty. However, it does appear that the organization with the least amount of funding had a model of governance and action, which allowed them to use their small amount of dollars to leverage them to achieve a great number of projects. The influence of funders can be traced to the language used and professionalization of communication in the one organization and possibly to the less open and public distribution of information. A surprising element was the apparent lack of promotion by the funders of their commitment and support to the initiative that they are heavily invested in. Evidence from both organizations indicates that the issue of power and powerlessness has been discussed in their desire to provide an inclusive environment.



funders, non profit, governance, poverty reduction