Power Analysis

Resource Type

Visual Mapping

These resources result in a visual representation of systems, each through a particular lens (e.g., social relationships, political power, issues and concepts).

Systems Questions


What is the social network and how can we influence it?

Grantmaking Stages

Develop grantmaking strategy

Resources in this category can help you understand the system, identify outcomes and determine grantmaking interventions.

Identify and select grantees

Resources in this category can help you understand who is in the system, the strength and content of their relationships, who is missing and the power dynamics among them.


Highly participatory


A skilled facilitator


Less than 1 month

What's its purpose in systems grantmaking?

To identify opportunities and challenges for changing the power dynamics in a system (e.g., influencing those in power directly or creating the conditions needed for others to build power) in order to change the system. 

What is it?

A visual mapping technique that creates a picture and common understanding of the current power relations related to a particular problem by placing stakeholders on two intersecting continuums: 1) from opposing to supporting a systems solution and 2) from having no power to significant power to make decisions about the systems solution. There are eight steps to creating a power analysis map:

  1. Define the major problems or conditions negatively impacting your primary constituency.
  2. Define your agenda and the major competing agenda against the conditions you would like to change. 
  3. Plot the major policy battles or campaigns related to the problem and conditions.
  4. Identify the major centers of decision-making that control the problem or conditions.
  5. Plot the major organized and active opposition.
  6. Plot the organized ally groups.
  7. Plot the key unorganized groups or constituencies.
  8. Analyze the picture and develop strategies for creating change. 

When is it useful?

  • When power dynamics are a major driver of a problem and focusing resources on a specific set of constituencies will help shift those dynamics
  • When determining goals and strategies for movement-level change or community organizing, policy or advocacy campaigns
  • When there is a well-defined issue, problem or desired outcome 
  • For non-grantmaking social-sector actors, when providing political education for the grassroots or partners

What are tips and cautions for systems grantmakers and the social sector?

  • To create a richer map, it may also be useful to include diverse stakeholders who are considered insiders and outsiders of the system. 
  • The technique requires a high level of trust among participants. A facilitator skilled in managing power dynamics and conflict among participants is important. The technique needs sufficient space and time for discussion.
  • The technique simplifies stakeholders’ positions by assuming competing agendas. It’s important to be cautious about drawing conclusions that are too stark and clear-cut.
  • As is true with all of the resources in this guide, grantmakers facilitating Power Analysis need to account for and address concerns about their own power. It can be useful to put both funders and grantees on the map and have conversations about power with both the grantmaker and grantees in the room.


Introduction to Power Analysis

By Gloria Medina
501(c)onference presentation, 2015


SCOPE has developed best practices and tools, which it shares nationally, based on more than 20 years of community organizing in South Los Angeles around economic development.


Gloria Medina

Training Director, SCOPE