Black, Indigenous, people of color-led organizations have been at the forefront of social change for decades, but we haven’t been listening to their ideas, experiences, and solutions. Instead, we have chronically underfunded their work, limiting our ability to bring about meaningful social change in our country. In this moment of nationwide reckoning, I talked to leaders who shared their guidance for giving with impact.
Tell me about the work Solidaire Network does and about your funding strategies.
Solidaire is a donor network of 180-plus people with access to wealth who are engaged to move resources to frontline social change efforts. We believe that major transformation can happen when people with resources are in a right relationship with people on the frontlines of social change who need those resources. We work on helping our members to move resources to people who are the change agents of our time, from urgent needs to innovation to long-term infrastructure building for movement ecosystems. We are about funding social change in a just and right way.
We have several funds at Solidaire: a Movement R&D Fund, a Rapid Response fund, and our Aligned Giving Fund. Our Black Liberation Pooled Fund grew out of our understanding that funding Black-led social change has an impact on every other social movement and ecosystem. This strategy evolved from the funding our members have been doing over the last five years which is focused on funding the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) ecosystem. On the basis of our members’ commitments to make five-year investments, we were able to respond to the current uprising movement and say "what have we learned from our aligned giving work? How can we harness our relationships to listen to movement and respond in this moment?"
What are Black-led organizations telling you they need at this moment?
The [Black communities and other marginalized communities -- immigrant, Indigenous, and queer communities] that are organizing right now are saying, “We are in crisis. We need time, and we need space to respond to our communities and figure out what we need.”
The threat of white nationalists is pretty serious and requires a different level of security for Black- and Brown-led organizations. Folks are asking for support to increase their digital security because so much of the organizing is happening in a digital space.
Folks who want to move resources right now feel a sense of urgency and want movements and organizations to quickly respond to their needs, and create all of these charts, reports, documents, but the movement is already in motion. Our responsibility as people who are moving resources is to show up and know how to listen. For folks who are newer to funding movements, show up in a way where you demonstrate you know that you are a little late to the party -- and show up in a way that is deferential to movement and gives movement the space to do their work without setting additional demands.
If philanthropy could make one change right now, what should it be?
Unbox that endowment. Liberate those resources. The risk to you is not great. Multi-billion dollar endowments only shift a fraction of their resources and that amount of money is grossly insufficient. In this moment, it is derelict. Challenge power internally. Be bold. Whatever is required, do it now. Simplify the application and reporting process in a just way and do your funding long-term.
What would happen if philanthropy listened to BIPOC leaders?
That would transform how BIPOC leaders work. If you understand yourself to be accountable to movements, you will move in one way. If you are accountable to trustees, you’ll move in a different way. Philanthropy’s job is to work its way out of a business. If philanthropy were to make a proper infusion of resources into movements right now, I can’t even imagine the potential. Movement is winning so much already and it is grossly under-resourced.