CHANGE coalition: Philanthropy’s Bridge Bends Toward Justice, Not Cooperation

June 15 – As a coalition of philanthropic networks working together to strengthen bridges across funders and communities, CHANGE Philanthropy has issued a statement against what some have labeled “new philanthropic pluralism.”

While proponents of this pluralism speak of ideals in the abstract, wielding polite language and calling for civility as a tool to avoid dealing with the tangible issues facing our communities, we stand with our colleagues at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP),  Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG), Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE), Women’s Funding Network (WFN) in emphasizing the importance of fostering deep relationships to encourage philanthropic collaborations based on mutual respect and power.

Philanthropy must be able to shift and pivot and to respond to these dangers, guided by those who are directly impacted by those decisions and rooted in building – and maintaining — trusting and caring relationships with those communities.

The deepest relationships — the loving, energizing, healing kind — cannot blossom in a bed of lies and ignored truths. Collaboration that moves us forward past tough issues and difficult conversations is a partnership based on mutual respect and power. True partners are not afraid to be transparent with each other or held accountable to their current or past action.

For foundations, that also means examining their role in seeding these current issues, which often means having the courage to go back and examine how they acquired their current power and influence. The examination and reckoning around the wealth generation of a vast majority of our nation’s foundations are necessary steps in organizations healing the harm and trauma of society’s racist and exploitative systems. There is certainly room for grace in these discussions, but the discomfort and vulnerability implicit in this journey cannot be side-stepped nor shortened because of philanthropy’s best intentions.

NCRP promotes philanthropy that serves the public good, is responsive to people and communities with the least wealth and opportunity, and is held accountable to the highest standards of integrity and openness. That means that all of our work in this sector should be measured in large part by how much it contributes to justice, not just civility.

Bridging differences is an important part of getting to a more just and equitable world. But people don’t build bridges just to meet in the middle. They do so to get to somewhere.

Philanthropy’s goal should not be survival or cooperation, but to help foster justice. Foundations do that by funding work and making space for relationships that lift our human rights and dignity, not strip them. That is the bottom floor, the starting line.

Click here to read the full statement on the CHANGE Philanthropy website.