#MoreThanMoney: The Role of Funders in Addressing Ableism

Host Organization: Northern California Grantmakers


Ableism: a social attitude that having a disability makes someone a less valued member of society. It assumes that the ways able–bodied people live are the best ways to live. 

In addition to grantmaking, advocacy funders play a critical role in advancing social justice: agenda-setting and shifting narratives. But while more and more disabled people are being included in philanthropy, funders often overlook ableism as an area of structural discrimination, even here in the Bay Area where disability civil rights were born. Because many funders' understanding of ableism continues to lag, they have little motivation to push for ableism's inclusion on broader social and political agendas. This leaves disabled people cut off from the wealth of social and political capital, and the power to shape narratives, that funders bring to other areas of social justice work. This briefing aims to build a sense of community and engagement between funder allies and disabled funders/advocates by:

  • Educating funders about ableism and the unmet funding needs for disability advocates to do anti-ableism work
  • Looking at the cultural difference between two disability narratives in funding: charity and equity
  • Discussing how funding disability cuts across most funding areas/priorities
  • Motivating funders to see fighting ableism as a social justice issue
  • Inspiring funders to advance access in the field of philanthropy by applying a disability inclusion lens to improve internal practices and in making funding decisions
  • Including a "real talk" time for the group to talk more informally about ever-changing language usage and disability terminology

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