This month, we were challenged to examine our silence by The Heinz Endowments’ Grant Oliphant. We were encouraged and equipped to put decision-making power in the hands of people affected by those decisions through GrantCraft’s new participatory grantmaking guide (which includes the art in this blog post) and Jennifer Vanica’s twenty-year story about the Jacobs Family Foundation. We were inspired by the public policy wins supported by Meyer Memorial Trust. And we were reminded by the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies of the messiness and fruitfulness of striving to work more equitably.
What caught your attention this month?
GRANTMAKING STRATEGY | GrantCraft | 2-hour thorough read
This robust GrantCraft guide is great for funders looking to more deeply understand why and how they can cede decision-making power to the communities they seek to serve. It delves into what exactly participatory grantmaking is and the benefits, challenges and best practices. The guide is rooted in lived experience, drawing on more than a dozen examples to illustrate the mechanics of how decisions in participatory grantmaking can be made, what the process can look like and how it can differ from funder to funder.
PUBLIC POLICY & SYSTEMS CHANGE | Meyer Memorial Trust | 4-minute read
A recent evaluation of Meyer Memorial Trust’s 2017 efforts under their Affordable Housing Initiative offers three takeaways for funders:
- Funders can legally and successfully support policy and advocacy efforts
- Targeted grants have elevated and amplified the voices of low-income Oregonians most affected by housing issues
- It’s important to work on both longer-term and more immediate goals around policy and systems change
The evaluation goes on to share statewide and local public policy wins, what the foundation has learned, challenges it encountered along the way, and thoughts on how the foundation can better operate, such as collaborating more with other funders. Meyer’s choice to publish this report demonstrates how foundations can be transparent and support each other’s learning.
LEADERSHIP | Stanford Social Innovation Review | 6-minute read
At a time of frequent displays of hate, prejudice and discord, it can be tempting to think the role of philanthropy is to “stay above the fray,” as Grant Oliphant of The Heinz Endowments writes. Yet philanthropy has an obligation to use its voice, he argues. To be courageous and ethical leaders, grantmakers need to learn from, listen deeply to, and share their power with others—including the power of their voice.
EQUITY | Nonprofit Quarterly | 17-minute read
Seven years after deciding to center racial equity in its work, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) shares why and how it began making that change and where the organization is today. The article walks through the process of seeking to become a more equitable organization, the changes that developed organically and those that were made strategically, and the inevitable tensions and discomforts. BALLE team members offer advice for others on an equity journey and a reminder of the need for constant collective inquiry and learning.
GRANTMAKING STRATEGY | Jennifer Vanica | 534 pages
Over two decades, the Jacobs Family Foundation and residents of San Diego’s southeastern neighborhoods built a partnership that aimed to rest decisions in the hands of those affected by them. In this book, the foundation’s CEO, Jennifer Vanica, shares this story along with a broader one: “what can happen when philanthropy is aligned with community, determined to ensure equity, unafraid to share power, and committed to strengthening democracy by lifting the voice of those living change on the ground,” as PolicyLink’s Angela Glover Blackwell writes in the foreword. This book is for funders looking to work more equitably and forge more courageous relationships with the communities they seek to serve.
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