Social justice philanthropy from the bottom up

Linked with Colin Greer – USA.

Published on Allavida.org, by Colin Greer, June 2005.

In an article in the June edition of Alliance, Gary Craig rightly points out that social justice is not just a matter of ends? of what you support? it is also a matter of means, and he discusses some of the implications of this for foundations who think of themselves as practising social justice philanthropy. Our own experience at the New World Foundation NWF bears this out. As we committed ourselves to the what of social justice grantmaking, we had also to pay attention to the how, to the evolution of sympathetic organizational practices that push us beyond funding social justice projects to making NWF itself a social justice organization in partnership with others, most of whom are grantees in base-building community activism.

We live in a time without a clear alternative to global capitalism or super-corporate politics. But the questions have been posed and answers are being invented by base-building activist organizations, as well as think-tank and advocacy groups. Of these, the base-building organizations are the root from which movements for social justice and equity grow. At the heart of any such movement are the people who suffer injustice, who organize to oppose it, and who build organizations that transform victims into empowered agents. When successful, such movements can produce extraordinary leaps of progress, even in the most daunting times.

Base-building organizations: the struggle to survive: …

… Does any of this mean we are never high-handed? That we make decisions our grantee allies always cheer? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that we, and a few solid colleague foundations, have begun to establish an order of criteria and practice, which recognizes the need for foundations supporting social justice work to, just like their grantees, grow into social justice organizations themselves. (full text).

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