Giving Compass' Take:

• Kiesha Davis shares lessons that the Memphis Music Initiative has learned from their attempts to disrupt arts philanthropy. 

• How can philanthropists shift their strategies based on these lessons? 

• Find out what is wrong with (most) grant proposals

  • It's not about you, Philanthropy. Philanthropic work isn't about showing how smart you are; it's about empowering and liberating people.
  • Brace yourself for difficult conversations. Be prepared to take a lot of heat when you start to talk about moving money and shifting power. It's a zero-sum game. For an organization like ours based in the racialized South, the realities of the region's past play out on a daily basis. In order to move through and past those dynamics, there has to be frank and honest recognition of the institutional practices and structures that have led to the historical neglect of black- and brown-led organizations and communities. And that requires deep thinking about the equitable practices you employ, at every level of your work.
  • "Relationships are the new grant application." MMI will be grantee report- and application-free by 2019. In an effort to rethink the kind and amount of information we need from our partners, we are transitioning from an already short application form to verbal site visit-based reporting.
  • 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." The kinds of metrics funders have traditionally used to capture "impact" does not have to be the only way we measure success in this work.
  • 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 Philanthropy News Digest.