Giving Compass' Take:

• Justice Funders is a small organization that serves as a partner and guide for philanthropy. It strives to create a lens of racial, gender, and socioeconomic equality across the impact giving landscape. 

• The author suggests starting with investments in community-led initiatives rather than for-profit companies with ambiguous missions. Is this an achievable and/or reasonable first step? Where can collaboration fit into this transition?

• Read more about the power problem in philanthropy to get a full understanding of why some believe a new vision is necessary for the sector. 

In my first few months as a brand new fundraiser at a grassroots, women of color-led social justice organization, I was tasked with managing a grant proposal submission to a national funder that – in retrospect – was one of the most burdensome and painstaking grant application processes I ever experienced.

Between myself, a grant writing consultant, the executive director and our program staff, we spent nearly 40 hours of time working on a $20,000 request. In the end, they granted us $10,000 without much explanation as to why. This was my introduction to institutional philanthropy.

During the next seven years, I experienced numerous encounters with funders who talked a great talk about advancing racial, gender and economy equity in their grantmaking, but didn’t recognize the ways in which their own power and privilege were undermining their missions.

My experience as a fundraiser is what led me to Justice Funders, a small but mighty organization that serves as a partner and guide for philanthropy to re-imagine practices that advance a thriving and just world.

At the same time, we recognize that grantmaking dollars alone are not enough to manifest the kind of transformation needed to dismantle the multiple systems of oppression that keep our communities from thriving. In this moment of grave social, economic and environmental crises, we are calling on philanthropy to reckon with its century-in-the-making practices that have fueled the accumulation and privatization of wealth, and the centralization of power and control.

Our vision of field-wide philanthropic transformation is informed by the Just Transition principles that build political and economic power to shift from an extractive economy (the accumulation, concentration an enclosure of wealth and power) to a regenerative economy (which seeks ecological restoration, community resilience and social equity).

Read the full article about redistributing wealth and power in philanthropy by Maria Nakae at National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy