With affiliate organizations in 21 states, PICO draws from the accumulated knowledge of varying faith communities across the United States to advocate for movements dismantling systemic oppression, and pairs that advocacy with the largest independent voter engagement program working outside of political campaigns and labor.

But each affiliate also operates as an independent organization day-to-day, wielding their resources to cut down root problems in their respective cities and neighborhoods.

Lessons learned locally inform the direction of PICO’s national strategy, but they are sometimes lost in conversations with funders. Philanthropy could better serve organizations like PICO if it acknowledged that those closest to the work best know how to accomplish it.

Faraway philanthropists who dictate the scope and methods of change jeopardize an affiliate’s ability to authentically organize its community.

Failing to do so would be a real shame, because the roots of organized religion in this country run deep. As they branch out into non-urban communities and sprout (c)4s to help congregations influence local politics, fully empowered PICO federations could bloom with unbound social good – think ending mass incarceration, instituting gun violence prevention, creating a pathway for citizenship for those currently without one and more.

Read the full article on local action by Troy Price at National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.