Giving Compass' Take:

• Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) takes an approach to disrupt arts philanthropy by promoting equity and inclusivity in arts funding for organizations led by people of color. The director of grantmaking and capacity building shares the main takeaways MMI has as it grows and evaluates their approach. 

• How can philanthropists encourage more diversity in funding initiatives and put an end to 'philanthropic redlining'? 

• Read about the power and privilege connected to funding and where philanthropy can fall short because of that dynamic. 

The work of Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), which was featured in the recent study Toward the Future of Arts Philanthropy, is centered on community empowerment through arts funding. The study explores MMI's funding and programmatic practices in the context of promoting equity and inclusive practices in arts funding, access to arts education, and youth development and offers a potential strategic framework for other capacity builders committed to equity in the arts. We believe that investments in black-led organizations are an investment in long-term community sustainability.

We are a learning organization and constantly evaluate what is working well and what we can improve on. Here are five takeaways from our work that continue to inform our disruptive approach:

  1. It's not about you, Philanthropy. Philanthropic work isn't about showing how smart you are; it's about empowering and liberating people.
  2. Brace yourself for difficult conversations. Be prepared to take a lot of heat when you start to talk about moving money and shifting power.
  3. "Relationships are the new grant application." ut by meeting organizations where they are and dispensing with the trappings of traditional grantmaking, we hope to make it easier for our partners to focus on their missions and efforts to engage youth of color.
  4. Impatience and comfort zones are enemies of impact. Disrupting established patterns of philanthropy requires focusing on long-term results and reexamining one's relationship with the words "data" and "evaluation."
  5. Stop centering whiteness in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. This means shifting away from prioritizing the perspective of any group — including gender, sexual orientation, or class —that traditionally has had the upper hand in philanthropic power dynamics.

Read the full article about disrupting arts philanthropy by Kiesha Davis at PhilanTopic