. @HarvardAsh convened a conversation yesterday with @DavidCallahanIP, @CHayling, @garalog, Julie Fernandes, and @meganfrancis about #philanthropy and race, mobilization & the #2020election. I’ve been thinking about it since.
At the heart of the conversation: how can / should #philanthropy support the @Mvmnt4BlkLives, Black liberation, power-building, and self-determination... and why has it so often failed to do so? They covered TONS of ground, but here are some take-aways:
Julie Fernandes made the point that #philanthropy missed the centrality of anti-Black racism as an animating force in US policy & politics bc philanthropy itself is so white and elite. Too many funders lack personal experience with the problems they're trying to solve.
This is especially important, since #philanthropy can determine whose voices & approaches are seen as "legitimate", who gets in the room, who has power, and whose policy solutions are seen as "reasonable" vs "too radical". E.g. the debate about #DefundThePolice vs reform.
There are also problems with HOW #philanthropy works. @garalog criticized foundations for acting like "consulting firms with money" and treating grantees like vendors. @CHayling added that many funders want understandable programs w clear outcomes. But that's not how power works
Short-termism is a big problem. Funders want to get quick results & move on. But the best investments are not around specific policies. They're in movements that will still be here in 5, 10, 20 years, strong enough to fight for the policy change that's needed THEN.
. @DavidCallahanIP pointed out that conservative funders have historically done this far better than progressive funders -- trusting their grantees, making unrestricted gifts, investing in infrastructure and betting on long-term change (e.g. the courts!).
And Julie Fernandes argued that #philanthropy must do better -- ceding power, trusting grantees, building deep partnerships. Including recognizing that Black leaders already have the solutions -- they just need the resources to build the POWER to implement those solutions.
That's the only way we can change the grim reality that Black leaders still get less funding. A recent @echoinggreen & @BridgespanGroup study documented this racial funding gap, and @RDFoxworth has also written about what funders should do differently: https://www.philanthropy.com/article/How-to-Avoid-Excuses-That/249070
How to Avoid Excuses That Prevent Grant Makers From Aiding Black-Led Organizations (Opinion)
The notion persists that investing in grassroots organizations headed by people of color is inherently risky. Here are five ways to challenge that thinking from two experts on nonprofit finance.https://www.philanthropy.com/article/How-to-Avoid-Excuses-That/249070
Thankfully, some funders are already changing the game. @CHayling says the @librafound is giving unrestricted grants to groups grounded in community. And grantees are using the funding to ask "what does it look like to ACTUALLY BE FREE, not just have less of a boot on our neck?"
Ultimately, the big changes we're hungry for require this kind of "radical imagination" (h/t @agb4equity), the kind of vision that focuses on where we want to go instead of incremental improvements, that seeks to #DefundThePolice instead of decrease sentences from 5 yrs to 6 mos.
This is also part of a larger reckoning around the power of #philanthropy & billionaires in society. @garalog @robreich, @VillanuevaEdgar, @AnandWrites, @NonprofitAF & others have written about this extensively. But understanding the problem isn’t enough. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/philanthropy-politics-billionaires/
We need a new way forward. That's why I'm inspired by donors & groups like @WayToWinAF, @donorsofcolor, @librafound, @propelcap, and my own org @newmediaventure that are building power for the long-run and also funding the structures of #democracy.
Funding #democracy is more important than ever. We're seeing renewed attacks on voting rights & free / fair elections. And as @CHayling says "If we're not fighting voter suppression targeting black & brown communities, we are walking away from democracy." https://www.thelibrafoundation.org/2020/06/on-the-precipice/
Anyway, the whole event was great. You can and should watch the whole thing for yourself, and join the conversation here:+Center+for+Democratic+Governance+and+Innovation&utm_campaign=610e7370e6-protest-mobilization-and-the-2020-election-fo&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bc3d84c57d-610e7370e6-141441682
And of course, I meant to tag @thelibrafound not @librafound (wheeee!)
More great resources from @meganfrancis in this thread: https://twitter.com/meganfrancis/status/1283504019806121984?s=20