159 posts categorized "Advocacy"

Parental involvement in decision making is key to ending the cycle of poverty: A commentary by Anne Mosle

September 02, 2022

African_american_family_masks_GettyImagesThere is an essential ingredient that gives us a real shot at ending the cycle of poverty forever: parents. It is an election year, and we will hear a lot about “doing right by our families,” but one of the best ways we can do right by families is to honor their lived experience by valuing their expertise. That message was at the heart of our Parent Power panel at the 2022 Aspen Ideas Festival: We can all benefit by engaging parents as partners as we design programs meant to keep children and families on a path to prosperity.

Parental involvement in decision making is the key to advancing policies and programs that support families’ strengths and needs.

For example, Connecticut’s Office of Early Childhood now has a Parent Cabinet that started with a manifesto stating: “To ensure that all children have equitable outcomes in education, health, and life, we must view engaging parents and developing their leadership as ‘Mission Critical.’” Colorado’s Department of Human Services has put this into practice with their Family Voice Council in which “[m]embers share their honest experiences and provide feedback as a guide for the future.” The Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) listens to a Parent Advisory Group which serves as a “sounding board for decisions, ideas and questions that shape the future of DCYF.”

For the past 10 years, Ascend at the Aspen Institute has worked with leaders in these states—as well as across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico—to move the idea of centering parent voices and lived expertise from the exception to the rule. The next step for nonprofits and philanthropies is to help more policymakers embrace these three core ideas:

Read the full commentary by Anne Mosle, a vice president of the Aspen Institute, executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, and co-chair of the Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Solidarity fundraising, an equity-driven framework: A commentary by Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala and Annie Lascoe

August 19, 2022

Leadership_handshake_credit_VioletaStoimenova_GettyImages-1365436662When Witness Radio in Kampala, Uganda, faced a government crackdown on groups protesting the World Bank-funded Lubigi Drainage Channel, the organization had to dedicate all its capacity to ensuring its team’s safety. This was in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when funding was urgently needed to continue its mission—in this case, stopping a development project that could force the eviction of dozens of local families. In response, Accountability Counsel, Witness Radio’s San Francisco-based partner, provided support by making introductions to key funders, which enabled Witness Radio to secure both emergency funds and long-term support for their work.

We refer to this joint effort—through a relationship that extends beyond our substantive work together—as “solidarity fundraising.” Solidarity fundraising is the act of leveraging funding relationships for the benefit of peer and partner organizations. By making high-value introductions to aligned funders, we can apply an equity-driven framework to philanthropy, starting at the grassroots level.

Solidarity, not charity

Solidarity fundraising presents an opportunity to subvert the traditional funding model that often excludes marginalized individuals and communities. It enables those of us with greater access to capital and resources to be more effective partners to civil society organizations and frontline communities. By leveraging our connections and resources, we can build a philanthropy ecosystem based on mutual cooperation and provide better support to those who have been traditionally denied a seat at the table....

Read the full commentary by Jeff Wokulira Ssebaggala, country director of Witness Radio in Uganda, and Annie Lascoe, director of development at Accountability Counsel.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Violeta Stoimenova)

The sustainable nonprofit: An opportunity to take stock and reset

August 05, 2022

Setback_woman_head_down_with_laptop_GettyImages_PoikeBy inspiring large numbers of people to take sustained action, leaders can turn a cause into a social movement with everyone working in concert to achieve a specific change. Cultural and societal norms do not shift easily, however, so painstaking efforts are required to move them incrementally to a place where the desired change can actually take place–in policy, legislation, behavior, etc. But what happens to a social movement’s supporters when progress seems slow or when they think all their efforts have been undone?

I’m thinking, of course, of two currently high-profile social movements–one aimed at protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, the other seeking additional measures to control guns–that some social movement leaders see as having experienced setbacks. Though I won’t debate the merits of any strategies or positions related specifically to these issues, we can keep them in mind as examples when discussing how social movement leaders should respond to inevitable setbacks....

Social movement leaders should view any setback as a prime opportunity to take stock and reset in certain areas to strengthen community....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project and lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Poike)

Ensuring movements are thriving and abundantly resourced: A commentary by Meenakshi Menon

July 06, 2022

Pride_flag_LGBTQ_CristinaMoliner_GettyImages-1313349355I began this Pride month in mourning for one of my most beloved movement idols. Against a backdrop of emboldened white supremacy, continued gun violence, attacks on bodily autonomy, rising inflation, and economic inequity, Urvashi Vaid passed away last month. Urvashi was many things: lawyer, activist, LGBTQ+ advocate, philanthropic organizer, and advisor. In her more than 40 years of activism, she worked tirelessly on behalf of racial, gender, and economic justice, centering collective liberation and intersectional organizing in all her efforts....

This year, Pride has felt particularly important, as communities of color, queer, trans, and gender-expansive communities, and our country faces some of the toughest attacks we’ve ever seen on trans youth, bodily autonomy, abortion access, and voting rights. As Pride has become adopted in more mainstream settings, it’s important to remember that no amount of corporate “rainbow washing” can obfuscate the legacy or importance of this month. The first Pride was a riot, led by trans and queer women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Their courage and bravery during the Stonewall riots fundamentally shifted and transformed the fight for queer and trans liberation in our country, and cemented the struggle of LGBTQ+ people as one of the most important intersectional fights of our time.

Throughout this Pride month, I’ve often thought about Urvashi’s wisdom. In reflecting on her powerful legacy and those of so many other queer and trans leaders, given everything at stake, I’ve wondered about what else we can be doing. What can we do to better support our movement leaders and organizations who put their bodies on the line every day so that we can be more free? How can we ensure our movements are not just surviving, but thriving and abundantly resourced?...

Read the full commentary by Meenakshi Menon, interim co-executive director of Groundswell Fund and Groundswell Action Fund.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Cristina Moliner)

How to build global victories from the ground up: A commentary by Nicky Davies, Carroll Muffett, and Christie Keith

July 04, 2022

Plastic_pollution_pexels-catherine-sheila-2409022In March, United Nations member states agreed to create an ambitious global treaty to reduce plastic pollution. A treaty of this magnitude—which will consider the full life cycle of plastic, from fossil fuel extraction, to plastic production, to its disposal—is a turning point in the fight against plastic pollution and climate change. As organizers and funders in the plastic pollution movement, we are thrilled about the promise of this treaty.

How did we arrive at this moment? Our groups organized more broadly and more deeply than the plastics industry ever anticipated. The strategy that produced this momentous win offers valuable lessons for funders on how to build global victories from the ground up, and what’s essential for the long-term fight against heavy industry opposition.

Fund from the bottom up and support local, diverse leaders.

The movement started with a commitment to supporting many local leaders from diverse groups and countries working together to understand what is needed in their own regions to win. This strategy works because there is incredible power in a movement that is led from the front lines by people who are experiencing harms firsthand....

Read the full commentary by Nicky Davies, Carroll Muffett, and Christie Keith. Davies is executive director of the Plastic Solutions Fund, Muffett is president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law, and Keith is U.S. executive director and international coordinator of GAIA, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

(Photo credit: Catherine Sheila via pexels)

The sustainable nonprofit: What is a 'winning' narrative?

June 27, 2022

Hand_holding_megaphone_pexels-sora-shimazaki-5935743In the social issue space, new narratives pop up all the time as movements, companies, and organizations attempt to grab and keep the public’s attention. How do you know if (and when) the narrative you’ve created for the social issue you’ve chosen to address is the “winning” one?

While narrative is often conflated with hot-button topics and culture wars, no one “wins” by drowning others out. You win only when the public adopts your narrative as the cultural norm for a given issue—and changes their behaviors to reflect that shift....

Regardless of the social issue they’re working to address, today’s leaders must understand that narrative adoption is not a rational undertaking. Whenever the opposing side on an issue raises a challenge, we often see narratives created to change public opinion but in reality do nothing more than exploit facts or events—taking one fact and creating false context to win public sentiment. And though this approach isn’t new, many organizations and movements still seem taken aback when it happens. Again, this is illustrated in Moyer’s stages of movement development.

Below is a guide to knowing whether your narrative has inspired the public to change viewpoints. We look at it in three stages: Narrative Adoption, Narrative Attitude Shifting, and Narrative Behavior Inducing....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project, lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Sora Shimazaki via pixels)

An urgent call to invest in trans futures: A commentary by Kris Hayashi

June 24, 2022

Pride_flag_LGBTQ_CristinaMoliner_GettyImages-1313349355Recent data show that only 4¢ of every $100 of foundation funding goes to trans organizations and causes. Only four cents.What does this historic disinvestment in our communities mean for how we envision our future? And what can we do about it?

This Pride, I am not just honoring past resistance and celebrating ourselves now. I am reflecting on the importance of joining together to shape our future. In the face of escalating attacks against so many of our communities, Pride is all of it: It is about showing up for trans youth, defending Black lives, fighting for reproductive justice, and demanding an end to the detention of trans immigrants....

In 2015 there were 15 anti-trans bills enacted into law. This year, at last count, there were 140 anti-trans bills introduced in 34 states. What we are seeing now in the United States is an unprecedented level of attack....Why is this happening? These anti-trans laws and policies have long been a strategy of the conservative right to motivate their base constituents during election cycles, especially in states with governors and other state legislators who are aspiring candidates for national office—and they are deeply investing in this strategy. These efforts are part of a well-worn playbook used by political conservatives that include attacks on voting rights, racial justice, and reproductive rights....

Read the full commentary by Kris Hayashi, executive director at the Transgender Law Center.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Cristina Moliner)

It's time for philanthropy to invest in Black women: A commentary by Maria S. Johnson

June 19, 2022

African_American_woman_protest_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicMany of us are feeling disillusioned by the current state of affairs in the United States. This includes the rollback of reproductive rights, white supremacist mass shootings, rising costs for basic needs, and shortages of essential items like baby formula—which are occurring as we are still enduring a pandemic that has taken more than a million lives.

Reporting indicates that Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by these events. Black mothers have limited access to quality prenatal care and access to abortions. Black grandmothers who were community and charitable pillars were targeted and murdered at a supermarket, and low-income Black women are facing insurmountable rising costs and housing instability. All of this can feel overwhelming, insurmountable even. I get it. And yet, there is something we can do: fund Black women and girl leaders.

As a Black woman from the South, I have lived, worked, and been educated in racially hostile spaces, subjected to racist and sexist slurs, and doubted and thwarted throughout my life. I have also witnessed the power of Black women and girls to create beloved communities and alter the trajectories of their and others’ lives when offered resources and opportunities. Coming from that reality, I learned early on that we all need support to thrive. For as long as we have lived in this country, Black women and girls have been on the ground addressing many of society’s most pressing ills. Moreover, Black women and girls have bravely looked beyond societal problems to imagine and create new futures in which not only Black women and girls but everyone can live safe, happy, liberated lives.

This resourcefulness and visionary approach are hallmarks of Black women and girls, but philanthropy fails them....

Read the full commentary by Maria S. Johnson, founder and chair of the Black Women and Girls Fund in Baltimore.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

Fighting hate and racism, uplifiting our stories: A commentary by Anisha Singh

June 03, 2022

Sikh_family_GettyImages_kadmy-155656880As our nation continues to grieve for the victims of the May 14 terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York, we once again find ourselves painfully reminded of the ever-present threat that white supremacy poses to marginalized communities in the United States.

Our first responsibility is to center the pain the Black community is experiencing in this moment. At the same time, we must also recognize that the horrific ideology that underpinned this violence stems from a more expansive racism and anti-Semitism—the same toxic hate behind numerous deadly assaults in recent years, from Pittsburgh to Charlottesville and Oak Creek to El Paso. And as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month draws to a close, the recognition of this far-reaching threat comes with a challenge to all communities of color: How do we balance the urgent need to fight against the hate that plagues our communities and the need to take the time and space to uplift and celebrate our unique stories, identities, and contributions to our country?

This question is at the forefront of my mind as I join the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization, as its new executive director. The Sikh Coalition was founded in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when Sikhs and other religious minorities found themselves facing unprecedented levels of hate violence in the wake of that national tragedy. Many Sikhs—members of the fifth largest organized faith tradition in the world—keep visible articles of faith, including turbans and unshorn beards, which some Americans began conflating with images of the Taliban. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, the Sikh Coalition emerged as a network of attorneys, advocates, and experts who stepped up to provide free aid to community members who had been subjected to hate crimes or workplace discrimination....

Read the full commentary by Anisha Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition

(Photo credit: Getty Images/kadmy)

What grassroots activism means: A commentary by Priscilla Enriquez

June 02, 2022

Census_gettyimagesWhen the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States in early March 2020, the James B. McClatchy Foundation was in the midst of hosting roundtables to better understand our community in California’s Central Valley and the organizations serving it. While many foundations engage in this process, we believe these conversations are critical to the impact of our work, as it helps us understand what is happening in our community while building relationships and trust with key partners.

Even as COVID-19 case numbers began to rise and shutdowns were announced, our new chief impact officer, Misty Avila, was deep in the field, hosting meetings with community leaders. As the foundation’s CEO, I felt responsible for her safety in the face of this new public health threat; after a few moments of wrestling with what to do next, I called her and asked her to cancel her appointments and return home.

It soon became clear that this crisis would directly affect our work and our lives. We paused our community roundtables. Rather than just shifting in-person meetings to virtual ones and continuing with our plan, we took a moment to recognize how this global event was impacting the communities we cared about. At the end of March, we convened our community of grassroots leaders and sincerely asked the only question that really mattered: “How are you doing?” I look back at that defining moment as the cornerstone of our work.

At that meeting, one of the leaders shared that by standing in a food line with a client, he was also able to do some census outreach. This act of caring, combined with activism in that same moment, helped me to gain a deeper understanding of what “grassroots” activism means. It means acting on an unselfish drive to seek out opportunities, even in grim conditions, to improve people’s lives, because the future matters. While this leader was helping an elder navigate an unfathomable crisis, he also saw a future in which an accurate census count could help that elder.

And as funders, we need to act in a similar fashion....

Read the full commentary by Priscilla Enriquez, CEO of the James B. McClatchy Foundation.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Allyship vs. righteous conspiracy: A commentary by Cheryl Dorsey

April 12, 2022

Anti_racism_allyship_protest_GettyImages_DisobeyArtGettyImagesAs social entrepreneurs have demonstrated positive results in addressing the world’s most complex problems over the decades, it is evident that continued investment in the sector can create lasting impact.

At Echoing Green, we’re committed to building upon social innovation as a practice and movement to challenge existing power structures and create a more just, equitable, and sustainable world. For 35 years, we have found, invested in, and connected nearly 900 best-in-class social innovators transforming systems worldwide.

Core to our theory of change has been building cross-sector alliances for transformative social change. However, as the social innovation movement continues to build momentum, we have arrived at a critical stage where allyship is no longer enough. For organizations looking to further their commitment to racial equity, we must all move past being allies and move toward being co-conspirators.

Allyship vs. righteous conspiracy

Creating powerful and inclusive social movements requires actors across multiple sectors who are willing to roll up their sleeves and act. Passive allyship is often characterized by rhetoric not being matched with action or accountability. We’re witnessing this today on a large scale. After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, organizations expressing a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and racial equity pledged billions of dollars. In 2022, those announcements have been replaced by calls for racial equity audits, which often reveal disappointing results.

Co-conspiracy, by contrast, as civil rights activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement Alicia Garza points out, “is about what we do in action, not just in language.” Co-conspirators leverage and cede the power and privilege they hold to work alongside on-the-ground leadership. They take action based on what they have learned and commit to listening and learning, instead of leading. Furthermore, they acknowledge and center the work already being done by leaders and communities closest to the issues, and offer meaningful support to advance their cause....

Read the full commentary by Cheryl L. Dorsey, president of Echoing Green.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/DisobeyArt)

 

Building the political and civic power of historically excluded communities: A commentary by Christine White

December 20, 2021

I_Voted_stickers_element5-digital_unsplashDonating to civic engagement organizations is an investment in a thriving democracy

As the nation approaches yet another midterm election cycle, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to invest in civic engagement year-round. This is perhaps some of the most important work we can do to preserve, protect, and strengthen our democracy.

The goal of civic engagement as a function of community organizing is to build the political and civic power of communities historically excluded from the political process. These communities have been less likely to benefit from shifts in political power and therefore have had fewer tangible incentives to overcome generations of voter suppression to make their vote count.

The work of voter registration is difficult and tedious — but also rewarding and necessary. While 95 percent of eligible voters in Georgia are registered, this is no reason to slow down or scale back. The work of registering the remaining 5 percent of unregistered voters is probably the most important civic engagement work we can do. Why? Because those remaining 5 percent of unregistered voters are the most isolated, most marginalized, and most disenfranchised segments of our population. This is the population that generations of voter suppression, voter purging, and voter intimidation tactics have worked to silence — and have succeeded in silencing. These folks are overwhelmingly in the lowest income bracket, do not have a driver’s license, and do not have stable housing....

Read the full commentary by Christine White, executive director of the Georgia Alliance for Progress.

(Photo credit: Eelement5 digital via Unsplash)

The sustainable nonprofit: The world is not black and white

December 14, 2021

African_American_women_survey_GettyImages_FG TradePro vs. con, or can you find a home in the middle of a social issue?

When you perform qualitative interviews with the general public, you realize two things very quickly: The world is not black and white, and people for the most part are torn on where they stand.

As researchers, we must try to understand the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the public or a target audience as defined by the clients, organizations, and movements we work for. In that work, we find ourselves using qualitative and ethnographic methods to dig deeper into the sometimes surface-level quantitative data we receive.

In the past year alone, I’ve participated in at least twenty-five research projects in which we were tasked with understanding the mindset of the American public as it relates to a specific social issue. We found ourselves engaging with rural, urban, and suburban individuals who often strike an interesting balance on issues — between what they grew up with, learned, or even experienced in their earlier lives, and the complexity of today’s issues in a world where technology, connection, and relationships are being created and built at varying levels.

This means that many individuals are neither “pro” nor “anti” about most things. They often reflect a spectrum of support as they work through their personal decisions about whether to support, oppose, or even take no stance on an issue....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/FG Trade)

'Funding diverse, equitable, and inclusive youth fellowships': A commentary by Rachele Tardi and Zachary Turk

September 23, 2021

Report_osf_the_time_is_nowThe time is now: Funding diverse, equitable, and inclusive youth fellowships

In 2017, Open Society Foundations launched a global Community Youth Fellowship Program — a collaborative grantmaking initiative focused on engaging young people as individual grantees through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. The program allowed us to address crucial questions such as: How can philanthropy use an equity-centered approach to support young activists to build their leadership and a leadership pipeline in their communities? How can young activists be supported to work collaboratively, building solidarity across movements and generations? In our new report, The Time Is Now: Funding Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Youth Fellowships (English and Spanish, PDF), we reflect on lessons learned and positive practices in this work and interrogate our own approach.

Centering equity in processes

One of our key aims in developing our fellowship program was to support young activists in their own communities, for we understood that the ideas, solutions, and debates that arise within the community itself are the most impactful and transformative. Through this lens, we sought to expand the leadership pipeline for young activists from communities who experience multiple forms of structural oppression and face high barriers to civic participation.

Our initial emphasis was on intellectually and developmentally disabled activists. By identifying and involving disabled youth as fellows, we sought to help dismantle the prejudices of ableism and promote disability rights. Further, by rethinking grantmaking procedures and centering principles of justice, equity, and inclusion in our processes, we strove to advance a vision in which all areas of work can and must be aligned with program values....

Read the full commentary by Rachele Tardi and Zachary Turk.

'Building political power at a grassroots level': A Q&A with Romilda Avila, CEO, Tides Advocacy

September 22, 2021

Headshot_Romilda_Avila_Tides_croppedRomilda Avila is CEO of Tides Advocacy (formerly the Advocacy Fund), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization working with a network of fiscally sponsored 501(c)(4) projects and funds to strengthen political infrastructure and support power building and policy reform led by those most impacted by injustice. To that end, the organization provides capacity-building support, grantmaking support, and advising services to incubate advocacy initiatives. Avila served as Tides Advocacy's deputy director from 2017 to 2019 and as interim CEO before being appointed CEO in April 2020; she previously worked as a social impact consultant advising national foundations on grantmaking strategies for advancing social justice and equity.

PND asked Avila about Tides Advocacy's commitment to and process of becoming a pro-Black organization, the Political Movement Infrastructure Project, and the role of grassroots organizations in power building. Here is an excerpt:

Philanthropy News Digest: You were officially appointed CEO not long after the COVID-19 crisis began in the United States. How did your priorities for the organization shift as a result of the pandemic and its economic fallout?

Romilda Avila: Last year, when the pandemic hit, movement folks had to restructure in the moment; in the middle of organizing in the field, they had to transition to lockdown and figure out technology and community engagement. We rallied and were able to give $150,000 through our internal Resilience Fund to highly impacted partners to make sure that they were able to sustain themselves and their salaries and support healing justice and programming while facing an uncertain future. It was the first time that Tides Advocacy has done this type of grantmaking.

We're also supporting more organizations in terms of (c)(4) funding and inspiring folks to do more political work in the off-season. Through our Healthy Democracy Action Fund, during an important election year, we had an opportunity to work with a great donor who allowed us to support almost fifty organizations through nearly $6 million in grants. Almost $2.1 million went to Black-led organizations organizing in the South and the Midwest, and the rest went to Native, Latinx, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities. We're also looking to go deeper with leaders and organizations working on LGBTQ rights — particularly trans issues — and immigrant rights, disability rights, and more, so we can support all people directly impacted by injustice in organizing and building political power at a grassroots level....

Read the full Q&A with Romilda Avila.

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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