Humility is a wise teacher.
To be humble is to admit when we may not know everything, which is a prerequisite to learning and growth. It allows us to listen, which is a state of openness that assumes something new and valuable is being shared.
A structural challenge for the field of philanthropy is the cultivation of humility. For one thing, financial wealth can create a power imbalance, which makes it hard for the transparent sharing of information between funders and those they support. The lessons of failure can often help ground us in humility, but unlike the business world, there aren’t many feedback mechanisms that tell a philanthropic organization when they aren’t measuring up.
One way that we at The Pollination Project have tried to build humility within our theory of change is to do away with prescriptive rules around seed funding.
We minimise our guidelines for grantmaking to the essentials. Our advisor team funds in every issue area and in every country; they fund youth-led projects, proposals from people who have never before done any non-profit work, and ideas that are uncommon or outside of the mainstream. Our funding is lightly held, focusing on lessons learned rather than quantitative outcomes or evidence-based practices. This invites a colorful diversity of ideas; a bounty of unexpected and creatively courageous efforts.
We have no pre-existing ideas about the “best way” for someone to carry out a project; in fact, we are quite comfortable not knowing the best way, and learning along with the changemakers we trust.
We strive to listen to those closest to an issue about their thoughts on how to serve their neighbors and community.
As it is said, if you want to go quick go alone, but if you want to go far go together. We know we all have a long way to go and the most meaningful journeys are the ones in which we learn and grow together. Join us in the journey towards a more connected, compassionate and courageous world.