Giving Compass' Take:
- Iimay Ho, Chair of the Executive Director Search Committee at the Astraea Foundation, discusses the importance of philanthropic advocacy in fighting to advance racial and social justice.
- How can philanthropic advocacy support grassroots organizations?
- Read about the role of philanthropy in advocacy and policy.
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For 44 years Astraea has been the leading exclusively LGBTQI, global feminist funder. Former Astraea Board Co-Chair and current chair of the Executive Director Search Committee Iimay Ho discusses what the last year has been like and where Astraea is headed in 2021 and beyond.
Q: 2020 has been described by some as a “visionary year” in that the collective eyes have been ‘opened’ to the far reaching extent of systemic injustice; from racism and transphobia to climate collapse. How do you think Astraea has been positioned to meet this extraordinary moment?
Iimay Ho: Astraea, ever since its founding as a multi-racial, cross-class intersectional lesbian feminist organization, has always prioritized funding those most directly impacted to create the solutions that we needed. When I think about last year — it revealed who had been doing the work all along on racial justice, combating anti-Black racism specifically, and creating transformative change. Suddenly there was a reckoning and we saw all the corporate statements about Black Lives Matter or the apologies, especially from white institutions suddenly taking account of the harm or complicity. It exposed who hadn’t done their work and who hadn’t been accountable, or reflective about their work from a social justice lens. At Astraea, we had already been having a lot of these conversations but we also needed to double down internally.
Q: Astraea it seems has always been “doing the work”, right?
Iimay Ho: For over 4 decades Astraea has had that lens and has funded the grassroots LGBTQI movements and BIPOC-led work here in the U.S. and internationally. I think it speaks to the deep work that’s been done in the past that there doesn’t actually have to be a huge pivot of, “Oh, suddenly, now we have to think about racial justice”, as it’s already just been so integrated in Astraea’s work.
Q: How then does Astraea share its approach and funding philosophy beyond the organization, to reach those who may not yet have embedded racial justice into their work as an ongoing practice?
Iimay Ho: I think that’s where I really appreciate that philanthropic advocacy is actually one of the core pillars of Astraea’s work. Of course, there’s a grantmaking side, but Astraea always positioned itself as a funder that’s organizing other foundations and funders. Through being an intermediary we can take some more restricted dollars and channel them through Astraea and turn those into general operating support and actually fund grassroots organizations that many larger private institutions aren’t able to because they don’t have a relationship with, or don’t understand the field.
Read the full article about philanthropic advocacy at the Astraea Foundation.