Choosing Change: Five Dimensions for Reducing Structural Inequality

Choosing Change: Five Dimensions for Reducing Structural Inequality

Questions to Ask About Any Proposal

When deciding whether to support a proposal, funders can ask the following questions to assess whether or not it has potential to reduce structural inequality — or reinforce it. These five dimensions can be a screen added to funding decisions for any issue area, from education to arts to climate. Learn more in What Is Structural Inequality?


Involvement of intended beneficiaries
  • How much do beneficiaries shape the proposed solution design, implementation, and and monitoring and evaluation?
  • How deeply and frequently does the organization engage intended beneficiaries?
  • How well does the organizational model incorporate intended beneficiaries’ input throughout its solution?

Durability of Power

Assurance that gains of power will persist
  • How well does the proposal actively shift the balance of power towards groups disadvantaged by structural inequality and create a sustainable source of power for those groups?
  • How well does the proposal develop and engage with leaders in the intended beneficiary community, also known as proximal leadership.
  • How well does the proposal build the capacity (e.g. financial resources, knowledge, skills networks) of the intended beneficiary population so that the solution is sustained?

Strength of Evidence

The case for potential success
  • How compelling is the evidence for a solution that addresses a barrier to structural equality?
  • How strong is the evidence that the problem the proposal is solving contributes to structural inequality?
  • How strong is the evidence that the chosen solution has the potential to reduce inequality?

Organizational Capacity

Ability to implement, measure, and manage results
  • How well does the proposal demonstrate an ability to create impact, given the organization’s history and resources?
  • How much does the organization’s prior work show a commitment to addressing structural inequality?
  • How adequate are the organization’s resources (staff, budget, capabilities, governance, board leadership) for implementing, measuring, and managing toward intended results?

Systems-Level Impact

Approach to addressing systems-level barriers

If successful, will this proposal address systems-level barriers and provide opportunities for structural change in the field of social impact it operates within?

How well does the proposal’s solution leverage and influence the work of existing stakeholders– other nonprofits, policymakers, commercial interests– to address the problem it seeks to solve?

How strong is the program’s plan for scaling its solution?

[1] Women, Business, and the Law. (Retrieved 2021, September 22). World Bank.