Reevaluating Practice: Reimagining Philanthropy

  • April 1, 2024

No matter the intentions of even the most justice-focused funder, the fact remains: philanthropy exists because of the unequal and unjust accumulation of wealth by the few. Maintaining philanthropic practices that reify the disparities this has created—one-year funding cycles, cumbersome reporting protocols, unaddressed power imbalances, inflexible funding expectations, and a lack of transparent communication—affects the viability of sustainable partnerships with nonprofit partners.

“The issues that exist in our communities will not be resolved within a grant period or even a lifetime. Many of the issues that organizations fight against are rooted in white supremacy and capitalism, which took hundreds of years to build. Our work, while it is powerful and beautiful and highly needed, isn’t guaranteed to have an immediate visible impact—and that must be okay [with funders] because our work is still valuable,” explains Vanessa Flores-Maldonado, executive director of Providence Youth Student Movement.

The work to address the racist and oppressive practices that underpin philanthropy, once confined to a small subset of progressive funders, has broadened. Many have been grappling with these questions for some time and have made important contributions to the Edward W. Hazen Foundation’s thinking, laying the groundwork for its continued efforts to address these critical issues in more meaningful and impactful ways.

Reevaluating Practice: Reimagining Philanthropy” is a final offering to philanthropy from the Foundation and its nonprofit partners. The report includes grantee recommendations for funder partnerships that advance a more effective and sustainable movement for social justice.

The report highlights the ways funders have impeded and empowered grassroots organizers to mobilize their communities. The Foundation also shares the lessons it’s learned throughout the co-creation and implementation of a five-year spend down plan defined by grantee input and collaboration.

The Foundation hopes this report is a catalyst for transforming conversation into concrete action. The Foundation, its grantees, partners, and allies envision a future for philanthropy where its value is based not on exorbitant wealth, but on a fierce commitment to equity and justice—this report is its final contribution to realizing that future.


Reevaluating Practice: Reimagining Philanthropy

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