Giving Compass' Take:

• Johane Alexis-Phanor shares five ways in which mainstream philanthropy ignores the problems of communities of color and fails to prioritize their needs. 

• How can mainstream philanthropy address an underlying savior complex? How can inclusivity and diversity strengthen awareness and representation within the philanthropic sector?

• Some organizations are highlighting black history in philanthropy, community development, and environmental justice by looking at what they are doing to benefit communities of color.

Mainstream philanthropy overwhelmingly does not represent the communities it serves. An article from the Nonprofit Quarterly puts it best when it states, “Lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in philanthropy enlarges the understanding gap between philanthropy and the communities meant to be final beneficiaries. And assumptive errors that flow from a vastly different experience of the world… are worsened by the philanthropists’ own positions of power in the grantee/grantor relationship.”

In this post, I explore 5 assumptive errors mainstream philanthropy makes when investing in communities of color and what it can do to remedy these mistakes.

  1. Mainstream Philanthropy Prioritizes the Built Environment Over People: Mainstream philanthropy has recently become enamored with building green and sustainable environments while oftentimes overlooking the people living within those same communities.
  2. Mainstream Philanthropy Favors Deficit-Based Giving: Proposals and projects with this deficit-based approach are the ones that receive funding. Program after program aims to address disparities in communities of color while failing to recognize the strengths and unique opportunities that can flourish within those communities with the right investments.
  3. Mainstream Philanthropy Caters to Self-Centric Giving: While I believe that presenting a value proposition to a funder is important, sometimes the benefit to the donor is prioritized over the benefit to the community.
  4. Mainstream Philanthropy Loves Bikes and Believes Bikes Can Solve all Social Problems: Biking cannot be a good method for fixing anything in a community where traffic and public safety are major issues.
  5.  Mainstream Philanthropy Thinks it Can “Save” Communities of Color:  Funders must see the communities they serve as their equals. The most transformative work happens when communities of color are seen as philanthropic partners.

Read the full article about mistakes of mainstream philanthropy regarding communities of color by Johane Alexis-Phanor at Medium.