Consensus Decision Making: An Update from CSPL 210

What will CSPL 210 do with the $10,000 they received from the Learning By Giving Initiative? Here’s the latest update from Bobbby Cunningham ’15:

The Money and Social Change class has made great progress since we first received our initial list of 275 nonprofits six weeks ago, and we’ve learned quite a bit about consensus decision making and grant-making along the way. After trimming our list of Middlesex County nonprofits from 75 to 11 in our marathon session, our grant-making process became much more deliberate and focused. Up until then we had made cuts in smaller groups of three or four, but now we needed unanimity to move forward. Joy was serious about reaching full consensus before eliminating nonprofits or deciding on a process forward, which was great because it lead to intense and thoughtful discussion and ultimately to a collective class decision. It really got people thinking and participating. To narrow down our list even further, we had to decide how we were going to tell a connective story with our portfolio of grantees. Initially proposed in our reflection of grant-making Saturday, collective impact seemed like an approach that our whole class could stand behind. Collective impact arises through cross-sector coordination of organizations around a common agenda to fix a complex social problem. Last Monday, we decided to go with this method, and entering last night’s class we had a general grouping of organizations based around themes. We explored numerous groupings, all sound and well-reasoned options, before eliminating a few organizations. After two more hours of working towards a final decision, we’re excited to report that we’ve accomplished our goal. The $10,000 will be shared between three nonprofits that we believe will benefit from meeting one another and potentially working together in the future. In next week’s post, we’ll speak more about our three grantees and how their story is one of collective impact. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working to plan the structure of our Grant Award Party. We look forward to keeping you in the loop, and hopefully we’ll see some of you at the award ceremony!

Read previous posts by Jojo Weinberger ’15 and Sam Rispaud ’15, and follow their class on Twitter.