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Advancing Participation in Philanthropy Tool (APPT)

A self-assessment tool for grantmaking foundations to gauge where they currently are in terms of participatory practice across all areas of work and operations.

Introduction to the Advancing Participation in Philanthropy Tool (APPT)

The Advancing Participation in Philanthropy Tool (APPT) is an internal assessment tool for grantmaking foundations to assess openings for participatory practices. It is intended as a basis for internal dialogue and goal setting or action planning.


The tool is organized according to functional areas typically found in a foundation, such as governance, operations & staffing, grantmaking. For each functional area, there is a spectrum of practice about participation of people and communities with lived experience.  Indicators and key questions help guide review as a user assesses each area. Read more about how the tool is structured in How to Use the APPT.

How to Use the APPT

The APPT can facilitate reflection by an individual, within a team, or within an organization in order to spark ideas or enact change. While it can be used by one person, it is ideally used by more. If users represent different organizational functional areas or teams and are diverse in their identities and lived experience, the information collected will be more useful.  


Key steps in an APPT assessment include: 


  1. Identify a lead facilitator

  2. Decide which functional areas in the tool are relevant

  3. Hold an internal meeting to discuss purpose and process

  4. Review the participation spectrum for each area

  5. Discuss and compare results

  6. Determine where participation can be increased

  7. Decide when you will assess progress

Why is the APPT needed?

Foundations are increasingly interested in approaches that shift power, trust, and decisions around resources away from predominantly “experts” to those who have lived experience and have historically been treated only as recipients of charity. The APPT is designed to enable grantmaking foundations to make meaningful change through practices of participation, inclusion, and power shifting across their organization.

After Completing the APPT

After completing the self-assessment, decide with participants when you’ll meet next to reconsider these conversations and commit to how you’ll track progress. Are there further steps you as individuals or as a group can take to advance your knowledge? Do you need to create an action plan? You can also invite members of your community and grantees to participate in a next assessment.

The APPT Self-Assessment

Select the Functional Areas below that apply to your organization to begin your self-assessment. When you click on the area, you will see a set of indicators and key questions. You will select a level of participation that aligns to your practice.  Start with the Instructions.

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