Engaging minorities through social justice philanthropy
In preparation for World Day of Social Justice on Feb. 20, CAAP suggests you read a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), titled “Real Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy is Social Justice Philanthropy.” The report argues that strategic and impactful philanthropy must look at prioritizing and engaging underserved communities because “by and large, philanthropists do not invest at significant levels with the explicit intention of benefitting underserved and marginalized communities.” How can foundations and individuals make their giving more strategic? The authors of NCRP’s report – Niki Jagpal and Kevin Laskowski – challenge grantmakers and philanthropists to take a social justice approach through doing the following:
- Make your philanthropy truly impactful by combing strategic giving* with social justice**. In other words, have clear goals and measurable impact for your giving, while also prioritizing and empowering underserved communities and focusing on social and systematic change.
- Create structural change by funding advocacy, community organizing, civic engagement and other related activities.
- Increase grant dollars benefitting marginalized communities, especially in the areas of arts and culture, environment, education, and health. For example, the report points out that regardless of socioeconomic status, students with exposure to the arts are more likely to graduate high school and attend college.
- Mobilize grassroots organizations that work with and on behalf of underserved groups.
- Provide the type of support that organizations need. For example, many organizations report a strong need for general operating and multi-year funding, but grantmakers for the most part prefer to fund project support.
- Continue to evaluate the impact of your philanthropy. Solicit feedback from your grantees to learn how you’re making a difference and how you can improve.
The Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) can help you be more strategic with your giving to Arab Americans and other minority communities. Contact us to learn more, and also view our 2013 Request for Proposals to learn about our current general operating support grant opportunity for Arab American organizations focusing on social justice issues. Follow along with us Feb. 20 on Twitter for #SocialJusticeDay.
*Strategic philanthropy means to have clearly defined goals and strategies to achieve those goals, as well as looking at who benefits from your philanthropy and how.
** Foundation Center’s definition of social justice philanthropy is “the granting of philanthropic contributions to nonprofit organizations based in the United States and other countries that work for structural change in order to increase the opportunity of those who are the least well off politically, economically and socially.” What distinguishes this field of philanthropy from others is that it addresses the core causes of injustices, rather than symptoms.
An upgrade in giving means philanthropy for all
Whether you are looking for the latest tips on how to make more impact through your giving, simple definitions to complicated philanthropic terms, or ideas for how to get your whole family involved in charity, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s new book Giving 2.0 has something for anyone with a generous spirit.
Using personal stories about individual philanthropists, as well as her own charitable giving, Arillaga-Andreessen argues that “a philanthropist is anyone who gives anything –time, money, experience, skills, and networks—in any amount to create a better world.” While many people think that the term philanthropist only applies to those who give away millions of dollars, we at CAAP agree with the above definition; whether you give $5 to support victims of a natural disaster, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, or share your skills and experience with a nonprofit at no charge, you are making a difference in the lives of others.
Giving 2.0 offers advice and personal testimonies related to a variety of topics including: volunteering and serving on nonprofit boards; new trends in philanthropy such as giving circles, micro-lending, and social entrepreneurship; and various philanthropic vehicles such as donor-advised funds, community foundations, and family foundations. Each chapter offers helpful tips at the end, such as specific ways to engage your family members in charitable giving, or a list of questions to ask organizations you’re thinking of volunteering for or donating to. While we would have liked to see more about identity-based funds and ethnic philanthropy in the book, we recommend Giving 2.0 as a great read whether you are new to giving or have been practicing philanthropy for years.
For philanthropic thoughts and tips related to the Arab American community, check out CAAP’s Guide to Arab American Giving and Workbook.
Seven steps to greater foundation impact
Philanthropy positively impacts individuals, communities, even the world. In their book Social Entrepreneurship: What Everyone Needs to Know, David Bornstein and Susan Davis argue that philanthropy is successful because “compared to policy makers and business investors, philanthropists [individuals and foundations] can assume more risk, maintain a longer-term focus, and support less popular ideas” (page 108). But how can philanthropy make an even bigger impact? Bornstein and Davis provide some helpful advice to grantmakers for areas to improve upon:
- Intensify focus on measurable results. Even let grantees evaluate you.
- Provide more flexible grants: offer technical assistance in addition to monetary awards, provide multi-year grants, or provide general operating support that isn’t restricted to only one program.
- Foster partnerships, collaboration and leveraging opportunities with other funding institutions, social entrepreneurs, policy-makers, and businesses.
- Provide scholarship opportunities to individuals interested in the field of social entrepreneurship, so that they have the opportunity to “transform institutions to advance solutions to social problems” (page 1).
- Encourage new forms of philanthropy where individuals pool their resources, such as giving circles.
- Communicate funding priorities and decisions clearly with grantees.
- Withdraw funding from organizations that are not meeting expectations.
The Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) is committed to continually improving our grantmaking practices in order to make the largest possible impact and foster positive relationships with our grantees. While we already practice many of Bornstein’s and Davis’ points listed above, we regularly solicit feedback from our grantees so that we can continue evaluating our impact and best practices. To learn more about CAAP’s grantmaking, visit our website.
Center for Arab American Philanthropy
2651 Saulino Ct.
Dearborn, MI 48120