Facing a World without Roe: How Effective Grantmaking Combats Inequity

  • By Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, May 9, 2022

The widely-publicized, leaked draft from the Supreme Court majority decision that would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade, dismantling the constitutional right to health care in the form of an abortion, came as a shock to many. However, equally as many reproductive health and justice organizations have been warning of this moment for decades. In nearly half of the United States, Roe v. Wade is the last line of defense against the hundreds of anti-abortion bills that restrict or ban access to abortion which would disproportionately affect people with lower incomes, people of color and those who sit at the intersections.

Here at GEO, we envision and are co-creating a community of courageous grantmakers working in service of nonprofits and communities to create a just, connected and inclusive society where we can all thrive. Collective action in the form of responsive, committed, and bold philanthropic strategy offers us a path forward in moments like this and in the long-term. As we outlined in response to the pervasive racial inequities of the United States that came to a head in the summer of 2020, effective philanthropic strategy involves the following:

Framing the issue

  • Acknowledge and illuminate how institutional barriers to progress are real and persist today – the erosion of our democracy and disenfranchisement of people of color, especially in the U.S. South, has led us to this moment.

Focusing on root cause

  • Prioritize eliminating the social and political barriers to progress that systemically and disproportionately prohibit thriving within historically marginalized communities – the long-term effort to overturn Roe v. Wade is rooted in power and inequity with people of color seeking abortions bearing the brunt of this seismic shift to national policy.

Disaggregating data

  • Illustrate through historical analysis that race remains the determining variable for inequity, as reflected in disaggregated data by race, gender, class, geography, sexual orientation and other categories – nearly half of the people seeking abortions in the United States are Black and Latino, communities that historically lack access to sex education, contraception and quality health care.

Exercising power

  • Change the rules within your organization that erode trust, put individuals in harm’s way, or perpetuate race-neutral/color-blind grantmaking practices – reproductive health and justice advocates have long been calling for sustained, low barrier commitments to movement building, advocacy and direct service funding centering communities of color.

In the GEO community, we work together to transform and strengthen philanthropic culture and practice by connecting members to the resources and relationships they need to best support the nonprofits and communities that they serve. These same practices apply with our nonprofit partners, and it is in moments like this when embedding the practices that beget stronger connections and trust and that allow for deeper learning and listening that are the hallmark of effective grantmaking come full circle. Throughout the pandemic, we saw funders shed outdated grantmaking practices to increase access to funding for our nation’s most marginalized communities. As uncertainty continues, we invite you to continue challenging current practices and center long-term commitments to learn with grantees and the GEO community.

We are committed to working with members and across philanthropy to preserve and reinforce a vibrant and active democracy. Now is not the time to despair. Now is the time to get involved and stay involved. As GEO CEO, Marcus Walton, reflected, “Together, we can not only weather any storm, but learn and unlearn, recover, develop plans of action and thrive in the face of uncertainty.” If you are just beginning your journey of deepening your understanding of the ecosystem of this issue, we offer a small sample of organizations, both funders and constituent-led nonprofit organizations, that you can listen and learn from.

Intermediaries and Funder Networks

Nonprofit Organizations