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Social concerns that continue to animate the idea of development in India, where many small and medium grassroots organisations are very active:
Caste and gender based discrimination; fast paced and unplanned urbanisation; neglect of the rural economy and its social conditions; exclusion from fair representation in local political processes; excessive privatisation of health and educational services; consequences of environmental changes on livelihoods and lives

These organisations work on the issues defined by the people, of the people, with the people.
Responses to these issues emerge over time through a series of experiments and projects and often demand cross-sectoral and hybrid work.

Hence, today, these grassroots organisations are more relevant than ever before.

Development is about real persons and real communities located at a certain place and time.

For the work of an organisation to be truly effective, the organisation must, over time, blend itself in that particular context and become a permanent fixture.

To make a real dent in social concerns, many grassroots organisations are required, instead of few large ones.

Because the development sector, like most industries, is a long-tail phenomenon:

The sum of work done across the tail of the sector far outstrips that which is done by a few larger ones.

Hence those who resonate with these social concerns should focus on small- and medium-sized grassroots (SMG) organisations.

Funding at margin

In the context of small and medium grassroots non-profits, it is defined as leveraging all the historical investments.

If you practice this consciously, deliberately and systematically you are becoming a funder at the margin. 

Thereby, allowing effective capital allocation, and avoiding, as far as possible, creating solutions for today that create problems for tomorrow.

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you actually know why it was put up”. - Robert Frost

Traditional Approach

1. Recognise the cause.

2. Search for/develop an explicit or implicit theory of change (ToC).

3. Find agents/instruments/means of change (non-profits) to realise the ToC.

4. Define concrete, quantifiable and time bound outcomes and outputs.

5. Create and implement the project.

Development funding becomes a series of projects to meet an end goal (say SDGs)

Funding at Margin

1. Recognise the cause.

2. Find agents/instruments/means of change (SMG non-profits) to realise the cause.

3. Build perspective on internal capabilities.

4. Preserve and grow the intangibles.

5. Participate in internal meetings and decision-making processes.

Development funding becomes a means to build a permanent system of change

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