At the 2019 CEP Conference in Minneapolis last month, I was so pleased to see CEP elevate to the plenary level its commitment to including voices of those with lived experiences. On the final day of the conference, Matthew Desmond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, spoke about the root causes and devastating effects of evictions in a plenary session titled “Poverty, Eviction, and Exploitation: A Vicious Cycle.” After his keynote, Matthew was joined on stage by others for a facilitated conversation, which featured Luis Caguana and Tecara Ayler from Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (Renters United for Justice) sharing their personal experiences with eviction.

Luis had just come from working a night shift to speak with us (in Spanish and through an offstage interpreter). He described his experience with eviction, saying: “Because we’re poor, we’re treated as if we’re objects; as if we’re pieces of trash.” Tecara shared her frustration with the numerous nonprofit organizations that came to the north side of Minneapolis to decide what should happen to her and other residents, and how these nonprofits “not once knocked on our door and asked us what we needed.”

We in philanthropy need to elevate and listen to the voices of those who are least heard — and act on what we hear.   We need to, as Tecara challenged us, “door knock and engage,” because “how can you help us if you don’t know us?” Through Shared Insight’s signature initiative, Listen4Good, we are helping nearly 100 foundations across the U.S. partner with more than 200 of their grantees to listen to the people they seek to help.

Read the full article about knowing the people you are trying to help by Melinda Tuan The Center for Effective Philanthropy.