Giving Compass' Take:

• In an excerpt from an interview, Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew Mellon Foundation, discusses how philanthropy is tackling root issues to pursue justice. 

• Alexander speaks on how partnerships for foundations can be fruitful if they remember to be humble in their expertise. How can you ensure that you are elevating the right voices to obtain justice?

• Understand more on social justice philanthropy.

Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew Mellon Foundation, discusses why foundations need to empower the people and communities their missions are meant to support.

More in her excerpt From Generosity to Justice with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker:

DARREN: When you think about pursuing justice in America and the world, where does philanthropy fit in?

ELIZABETH: When we think about George Soros or Henry Ford or Andrew W. Mellon, they all amassed their wealth in different ways and they all have very different stories. But at the end of the day, the result is still an excess of wealth in one place. What we know is that there can’t be an excess in one place if there’s not a need in another place. So, I think, at the heart of philanthropy, there are inherently ideas about what wealth redistribution looks like.

Nothing is ever completely balanced, but I do think that this very simple idea—if there is too much someplace, there is a moral obligation to be thoughtful about sharing it—is the central justice idea in philanthropy.

DARREN: Do you see this as simply wealth redistribution for its own sake, or do you see redistribution as addressing the root causes of inequality?

ELIZABETH: I think that in our generation, getting at root causes is where the art of philanthropy comes in. Each philanthropy has to figure out and be really intelligent about—and have a higher view on, and have deep knowledge on the staff to be able to really analyze—where it can meaningfully not only make a justice difference (and not everybody can do everything!)  but also determine how that idea of justice can have fulsome and visible authorship.

Read the full article about how philanthropy pursues justice at Ford Foundation.