Melissa Johnson of the Neighborhood Funders Group moderated a lunch panel of grant-makers on how they define and pursue social justice philanthropy. A lot of strategies and ideas were shared, below are some interesting points:
Ron Powell, Common Counsel Foundation: What are daily practices in advancing social justice philanthropy?
Challenge the current culture of foundations that thinks grantees are “trying to get something from you.” We need to create a culture of yes and give nonprofits the benefit of the doubt.
We tend to confuse good grant writing with good ideas. Typos do not mean someone has a bad idea. We should reexamine the barriers we place on grantees.
Remember this is a relationship business-treat others as you want to be treated.
Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Levi Strauss Foundation: What is your meaning of social justice philanthropy?
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” ~Martin Luther King
We should make sure that the money we give is done with love and justice in mind. It takes courage to recognize inequality in funding and to correct it. Between 1994-2004 there was an increase from .2% to .4% grants that went to Asian communities. How will we correct this?
Cynthia Renfro, Marguerite Casey Foundation: Recommendations for staffers who want to move to social justice philanthropy at their organizations.
Spend time understanding political culture of organization—just because you have been hired doesn’t mean they embrace you or your values. This doenst mean you should abandon your ideas but be mindful of who is there. You should also never go in there alone; know who are your allies are internally and externally to help you refine your ideas.
Lori Villarosa, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity: Strategies that really advance racial justice.
Racial justice isn’t just about intent; we want equity of outcomes. Therefore you should be targeted in your approach when dealing with diverse communities and create more space in grantmaking for a “shared analysis”—what’s working, what’s not working, and where can we improve.
Victor De Luca, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation: What should we keep in mind when doing social justice work?
Having regular and open conversations about what social justice is and how your organization can move towards becoming involved in it. But we must be ready to actually do the work and realize that it takes time to see change—you have to be in it for the long haul.