Two years ago, I wrote a piece advocating an approach to philanthropy grounded in a place-based, social movement strategy for systemic change. For the Chorus Foundation, this approach began with a critique of business as usual in climate-driven funding, but it has since led us to a broader critique of philanthropy as a whole. Even when we aspire to fund the right things, the ways in which we provide that funding run the risk of undermining the transformative potential of such work. As funders, we desperately need to learn how to let go and get out of the way.

With all of this in mind, my original piece focused on making the case for long-term, general operating support as a concrete tool for letting go. It also made brief mention of the fact that the Chorus Foundation is spending down; our final year of grant making will take place in 2023. Now, I’d like to take a step back and talk about why we’re spending down – both in terms of our immediate approach to the work, as well as our long-term vision for philanthropy as a whole.

As always, my thinking has been informed by two underlying assumptions about the nature of transformational philanthropy: First, if philanthropy as a whole requires the presence of systemic inequity, then truly transformational philanthropy must directly challenge the root causes of that same inequity. Second, if progressive philanthropy aims to acknowledge and address the power imbalances inherent to our work, then truly transformational philanthropy must explore what it looks like to hand power over entirely.

Read the full article about another vision of philanthropy by Farhad Ebrahimi.