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Want to fund hope? Fund organizing

woman on yellow background August 5, 2022 Category: ColumnFeatureFeaturedMethod

Disclosures

This is guest commentary timed with Black Philanthropy Week.

I am writing as a Black woman, I am writing as a millennial, I am writing as a community member, I am writing as a person who has family members who have been incarcerated, family members living in poverty and family members that are not able to vote. I personally have a deep appreciation for the work of all nonprofits. I am grateful for every individual that shows up day after day, after day, after day, I just want to say thank you. Thank you.

Organizations typically shine the light on funders, but we should shine the light on grantee partners. As we know change is a constant, and our world is ever-changing, and it always feels like a crisis. It feels like we are always fighting, like we are always responding. But how can we create hope? I think organizing is that hope. Organizing is essential to change. It helps us come together in community, it gives us individual and collective hope. It shows us who we really are and what really matters. It enables us to find our passion, our voice and move us to action. It helps us not feel helpless, and create our own reality.

Funding the act of organizing should be a critical part of every grant portfolio, and it truly is a journey of trust.

Grantee partners have taught me many lessons, including how to trust, how to show up for people in love, how to engage, listen and respond to communities, how to lean on your own strengths and how to embrace your growing edges. I’ve been shown the beauty of collective coordinated action. I’ve learned to trust that grantee partners really do know what is best and trust that love will win. Trust the brilliance of individuals closest to the issues and resource them. Resource them and not tell them how to do it, when to do it. Just give them the money and get out of the way.

Let’s acknowledge collectively that social justice takes time. It takes labor. It takes tears. But it can be done. Oftentimes social change goes through organizing. It may take funding for years or decades for that change to come. As funders, we have to be more accessible, more flexible, and commit to funding longer term with the least amount of restrictions. If possible, consider making multi-year commitments. This type of funding can support organizational growth, staff wellness, capacity, marketing, technology, leadership development, and opportunities for those who have never seen it before. And yes, it’s all done as general operating support.

Funders must give organizations the utmost respect and be flexible for them to name their needs. And for us to adapt to their environment in their reality. Now directly to funders, we have to be careful that our own priorities, our anticipated outcomes, our fears, or even our personal beliefs don’t get in the way of change. Instead, we can build trust by reviewing our roles as organizers who take directives from grantee partners and build bridges. Let’s build. Bridges of understanding, bridges of relationship, and even bridge funding because that’s a real thing as well. So movements can thrive, redirect, and sometimes fail but ultimately win. Let’s do it together.

From our Partners

What will we do with our opportunity? How will you activate your power to support movements? Let’s be conduits for change. Let’s just do it, cut the check. Change is waiting.

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