BUILDing sustainable social justice partners: Ford Foundation

Written by: Lisa Ranghelli

Date: September 20, 2018

Editor’s note: The following is a Power Moves toolkit Power in Practice example.

It was a significant moment when the Ford Foundation, which grants out more than $500 million annually, recently shifted its grantmaking priorities to focus entirely on inequality. Then came Ford’s Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) initiative, providing long-term capacity support for social justice organizations.

The foundation recognizes that, to make lasting progress in addressing inequality, social justice organizations need robust, sustainable support. They need investments in their essential programs and operations that help them to build a sturdy foundation for their work. They need predictable, flexible support to become more durable and resilient. Social justice groups also need funds that allow them to seize moments of opportunity and respond quickly to unexpected challenges.

To this end, BUILD is a five-year, $1 billion investment in the long-term capacity and sustainability of up to 300 social justice organizations around the world. Ford’s support aims to strengthen these institutions, making them more effective at achieving their core missions and reducing inequality in all its forms. Through BUILD, grantees are seen as partners and collaborators. The organization is in the driver’s seat, with the trust, flexibility and support they need to do their best work.

Through BUILD, Ford provides support to social justice organizations in the following ways:

  • Flexible funding
  • Organizational assessment
  • Focused strengthening
  • Peer learning
  • Rigorous evaluation

While Ford is able to invest in long-term capacity support on a large scale, any foundation can adopt practices to strengthen their core grant partners as they strive for community change.

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