Giving to Foundations that "Democratize" Philanthropy.
I enjoy giving, but I sometimes worry I'm not doing a good job at it. What do I really know about the groups I fund? Why do I have the power to decide where all this money goes, when I'm just one person, doing my best but not especially knowledgeable? Sometimes it feels just nuts. - E.G.
If you share some of E.G.'s feelings, you might want to do some of your giving through foundations instead of making funding decisions yourself. Foundations have boards and staff that can do the kind of thorough research few individuals are willing and able to do. Contributing to a foundation is akin to joining a "mutual fund for giving" where, no matter what the size of your contribution, you can have the pleasure of "investing" in hundreds of groups.
We editors are especially excited by an innovative subset of the foundation world: foundations which "democratize philanthropy" by changing who has the power to make funding decisions. Unlike most foundations, these more egalitarian institutions have multi-class, multi-racial funding boards, made up of people with extensive, first-hand experience organizing in the communities which the foundations serve. These unusual boards not only bring rarely heard voices and perspectives into the funding world, but they also empower people of many backgrounds with the skills, knowledge and influence they gain as funders.
By giving to these alternative foundations, we feel a kinship with people across all kinds of cultural lines-people we may never meet, yet with whom we are in a genuine partnership, working to better the world. We feel honored to have our dollars build new institutions, helping philanthropy grow from its elite tradition into a more democratic form of sharing wealth and power.
The Funding Exchange
The Funding Exchange is a national network of 13 foundations committed to funding progressive grassroots organizing locally and nationally.
666 Broadway #500
New York, NY 10012
Fund for a Free South Africa
Fund for a Free South Africa channels contributions to South Africa assisting human rights and development projects.
729 Boylston St., 5th Fl.
Boston, MA 02116.
The Peace Development Fund
The Peace Development Fund provides funding, training and consultation to community-based organizations that promote peace, social and economic justice, and nonviolent resolution of conflict.
44 N. Prospect St,
PO Box 128
Amherst, MA 01004.
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