Firetree Philanthropy is the grant-making and the external philanthropic partnerships arm of the Trust. It supports people, grassroots organisations and networks that are building more inclusive, equitable and just futures in the communities in which we collectively work.
Nicky Wilkinson and the whole Philanthropy team and Board strive to develop deep, open relationships that are driven by trust, and built on mutual respect, flexibility, learning and shared values. We know this takes time - often years - and it is not easy. In our experience having patience and allowing the necessary time is the only way to tackle power dynamics, to fund effectively and, most importantly, to achieve our shared goals with partners.
Firetree Philanthropy’s grant making approach is entirely structured on trust-based partnerships with value aligned social purpose organizations, NGOs, non-profits and networks.
Firetree Philanthropy gives multi-year unrestricted grants and – when appropriate - it advocates for the Trust to give other types of social investments (i.e. interest free loans to social enterprises and innovative non-profit organizations).
Firetree Philanthropy’s partners are embedded in the communities they work with, they are deeply collaborative and multi-faceted in their approach and therefore each partnership is based upon the needs of each organization we support and the context in which it operates.
Firetree Philanthropy’s Role in The Philanthropic System
Philanthropy can support innovative approaches, foster collaboration and play a catalytic role in shifting outcomes in communities. Accordingly, Firetree Philanthropy believes connecting, learning and sharing both successes and challenges is a fundamental part of achieving long-term change. As this is a key component that we look for in our partners, we must work to embody this ourselves.
This is done through:
Regular blogs to openly share our learning and share insights / resources from our partners
Funding networks and coalitions, where appropriate
Commission, take part in and facilitate specific research in areas of to contribute to shared learning.
In special circumstances, we develop or incubate collaborative initiatives, all of which share the same overall approach and values as the other strands of Firetree Philanthropy’s work . These circumstances include:
1.When a clear gap exists in a current context we are focused upon, where we have direct applicable knowledge / experience of the problem(s) and can work with others to play a role in directly designing interventions to address these.
Tondo Community Initiative (TCI) is an example of this. TCI is an initiative in partnership with the community of Tondo, Manila and Stairway Foundation. It is a separate legal entity that receives financial and, where possible, thought partnership support from Firetree Philanthropy. TCI collaborates with stakeholders in Tondo and Metro Manila at large. You can read more about TCI here.
2. When grassroots changemakers that we know well (often through years of our partnership funding work) are seeking to explore a particular context or system further. Typically this new venture is outside their organisation's existing projects but is part of their next steps to see how they can continue to contribute to systemic change in their communities.
These changemakers are all deeply connected to or from the contexts and systems they are exploring and have a track record of working to shift them to become more inclusive, equitable and just.
The starting point usually initially involves several months of funding and, only where we can add value, thought partnership support from Firetree Philanthropy to the individual(s) involved.
We view this as a fellowship programme. The Fellowship is designed to enable changemakers to (re)map the needs and root causes, to (re)map stakeholders, identify any gaps and test their assumptions.
From this in-depth mapping and research phase, if a decision is taken to develop a collaborative initiative this may be incubated within Firetree. The aim of the fellowship though is to enable changemakers to have the time and space to learn / un-learn / re-learn as they see fit to explore what further role they could collaboratively play in a system or context.
What may or may not develop out of this is entirely dependent upon the research findings that are done. Either way, the outputs of this phase will be shared more broadly.