“Recovery” and Possibility for Philanthropy

"Recovery" and Possibility for Philanthropy

 by Willa Conway and Cara Romanik

On one of the first hot sticky days of June, a group of RG New Orleans chapter members and local organizers came together for an outdoor meeting to discuss our engagement with the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as donor-organizers. First we went around the circle sharing what we love about summer –fresh food and swimming and the slowness of time in hot months– then we got to thinking about the last ten years. What we know is that individuals and foundations gave unprecedented amounts of money after the storm: $2.97 billion in aid by January 2006, and a total of $6.5 billion* between 2005 and 2015 designated for recovery efforts. New Orleans is now being held up as a model for disaster relief and recovery funding. But there were still so many questions: Where did all that money go? How was it distributed? Who benefited? What was philanthropy’s role in impacting the direction of recovery? What do our ideal funding relationships look like? And finally, how can philanthropy support more equitable distribution of resources going forward?

A narrative of progress dominates the story of Katrina’s recovery.  Much has been made in national … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Donor Organizing, GIving, Local Chapter, Philanthropy, Racial Justice

Finding Resource Generation from Canada

Finding Resource Generation from Canada

Each generation must, out of its relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.

-Frantz Fanon

I’m part of a generation (I’m 27) in North America that grew up being told that everyone should be born equal and have equal opportunity. I think my parents’ generation believed that so much they started to think of it as a reality, something already achieved, and not as a should-be, as something to aspire to. They were trying to believe in the dream of the civil rights movement. Believe it into reality, even if the work was so far from done. And so from a young age growing up in Toronto in a wealthy family I didn’t understand why people would choose to be poor. Why not just be rich? Everyone was given the same opportunities, after all.

Early in life I had somehow internalized the lesson of the inherent fairness of things. Being in middle and high school and trying to understand money and wealth at a society-wide level was confusing. At least it was for me. I wasn’t taught about the racial and gender divisions of wealth that have existed for hundreds of years here. Or about how that … Continue reading »

Posted in: Blog, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , ,

Reflections on the campaign to fund Black liberation

Reflections on the campaign to fund Black liberation

Reflections on the campaign to fund Black liberation

In the last year, the movement for Black liberation has grown at an exhilarating pace.  Even as the systemic violence against Black lives continues, this social movement has built tremendous transformative power nationwide.  In the late summer and fall of 2014, we in RG realized that our organization needed to find ways to support this movement.  As young people with class privilege committed to the redistribution of land, wealth, and power, the most direct way that we could do that was through leading a fundraising campaign to give the movement resources to continue and grow.  We are proud that in the last year, RG has evolved into an organization capable of moving millions of dollars to the movement for Black liberation.  After the one-year anniversary of the Ferguson Uprising, we – Resource Generation members Ollie and Jason – want to reflect on the achievements and the challenges of the past year and our commitments to Black liberation movements going forward.  Many of the insights below come from our fellow RGers.    … Continue reading »

Posted in: Donor Organizing | Tagged: , , , ,

Leaving the nest: why we became an independent nonprofit

Leaving the nest: why we became an independent nonprofit

I saw all the announcements about RG becoming an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Why are we talking about this again?

Great question. I may be a little biased as an operations geek, but I think it’s helpful to pull the curtain back and share with the RG community why we make certain decisions about our organizational development. We’ve also gotten some questions about the context for this transition so wanted to share more. If your eyes glaze over reading this kind of stuff, feel free to skip!


What is a 501(c)(3)?

Let’s get the legal jargon out of the way first:

Section 501(c)(3) is the portion of the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations or private operating foundations.

In plain terms, “501(c)(3)” is a tax code, but it is often used as shorthand to refer to nonprofits and foundations. If an organization applies for and receives designation from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) then they are exempt from paying federal income tax. The overwhelming majority of 501(c)(3) organizations in the US are nonprofits.


Why did RG become our own independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit?

For … Continue reading »

Posted in: Uncategorized

North Star Fund’s Let Us Breathe Forum

North Star Fund's Let Us Breathe Forum

By Katherine Wolf and Lena Solow

On May 9, North Star Fund convened over 500 New Yorkers at the Let Us Breathe Forum to discuss anti-Black racism and discrimination, support the development of Black leadership, and to brainstorm ideas for sustaining the movement for Black liberation that was ignited after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO last summer. Attendees included organizers, donors, artists, and educators from across the five boroughs.

Resource Generation was one of the event’s many sponsors, and more than a dozen people from our local chapter came out to hear from Black leaders how to stay meaningfully engaged. Though RGers recently surpassed our phenomenal goal to raise $1.25 million dollars for black-led organizing, the work is far from finished.  As people continue to be killed by police and state violence, resistance efforts will need rapid response funding to fuel direct actions, make bail to release protesters from jail, and build long-term organizing power in black communities.  Members of RG’s NYC chapter volunteered to help with set up, clean up, event registration and breakout session monitoring. Ian Fuller co-presented a goal report-back on community safety, and one of praxis group attended together and will … Continue reading »

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Learning from each other: Racial Justice work in our Chapter Leadership

Learning from each other: Racial Justice work in our Chapter Leadership

By: bex kolins

Since joining the leadership team of the It Starts Today! campaign to fund Black led organizing work, I’ve been inspired, excited, and energized by the incredible work RGers are doing in not just redistributing our wealth, but redistributing our wealth with a clear priority to support Black led organizing.  With the release of the series of three blog posts several months ago about giving to Black organizing, and a particular emphasis on reparations and the importance of non-Black people with wealth–especially white people with wealth–giving to Black organizing, I’ve had beautiful conversations with fellow white people with wealth/class privilege; in these conversations, we’ve talked not just about prioritizing funding to Black organizing, but also about building deep relationships with Black organizations and leadership where we are living.

Over the course of this campaign, I’ve learned about two RG chapters that have built relationships with local community funds and Black organizations/groups to raise money for on the ground organizing work in their communities and–in the Philadelphia chapter–for organizing in Ferguson.  In Philly, the chapter partnered with their local community fund, Bread & Roses, to start the “Resources for Racial Justice” initiative in November.  This coalition committed to … Continue reading »

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How Do We Learn to Give?: On Giving to the It Starts Today Campaign

How Do We Learn to Give?: On Giving to the It Starts Today Campaign

By Willa Conway

It is rare indeed that people give. Most people guard and keep; they suppose it is they themselves that they are guarding and keeping, whereas what they are actually guarding and keeping is their system of reality and what they assume themselves to be. One can give nothing whatever without giving oneself—that is to say, risking oneself. If one cannot risk oneself, then one is simply incapable of giving. And, after all, one can give freedom only by setting someone free.

– James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Fight for $15 action in New Orleans, April 15th 2015

I’ve been thinking about this James Baldwin quote in relationship to philanthropy for the past two years and it has come up even more strongly through the It Starts Today Campaign and our task to raise $1 million for Black lead organizing. What does it mean for me to give? I have money that I was taught to give away philanthropically from an early age. Yet, I’ve never felt that Baldwin was calling me to simply write checks to organizations that I have a connection to or that move me. This is a type of giving, but I do … Continue reading »

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Advice on Advisors

Advice on Advisors

I grew up moving from ‘relatively comfortable’ to verifiably wealthy. I was well provided-for, and, provided­ for. I never had much monetary awareness -my family always told me we were upper-middle class. A few memories of attempts to learn more are met with dismissal or outright being laughed at. With friends, I never kept my wealth hidden; still, I genuinely preferred torn t-shirts and hand-me-downs to anything gaudy or ostentatious. So, as acquaintances became friends, and they learned more about me, there usually came a point when they would ask, “Dude, you wealthy?” And I would respond, introducing humor to deflate potential tension (a favored technique of mine – keep this in mind-heart as you read on), “Dependently wealthy, yeah”

And then my mom died.


I inherited her wealth. (Though I am relatively ‘out,’ I will keep a few things – including figures – private, for the sake of others). I stretched my brain over the ways I could most do good with this money. Give it all away? (Isn’t that the neo-liberal’s dream?) Buy my own home? (Isn’t that the American dream, and the obvious investment?) Invest in green energy and human rights. Be the benefactor of my … Continue reading »

Posted in: Action, Blog, Socially Responsible Investing | Tagged: , , , , , ,

Prince John goes rogue, joins Robin Hood in wealth redistribution scheme

Prince John goes rogue, joins Robin Hood in wealth redistribution scheme

Written By RG Philly Chapter Leaders Kate Poole, Sarah Burgess & Julia Stone

In this EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, Robin Hood talks with Prince John about his recent transformation and decision to join a movement to redistribute wealth on a massive scale.

Robin Hood:  Let’s get right to the point here, Prince John.  Tell us, what’s behind your recent political shift?

Prince John:  Well, Robin, after years of hoarding and thinking that I alone was responsible for earning my wealth and ruling the kingdom, my brother Richard came back from the Crusades and shared with me that he had joined an organization of wealthy kings with social justice values.  At first I tried to have him beheaded at the suggestion of Sir Hissss, but after deep reflection I realized that I want to be part of a socially just world, and find love and joy in community.

RH:  That makes sense.  And what are you planning to do now?  Are you passing out gems at the gate?

PR:  Actually, Robin, I’ve learned that organizing is the most powerful tool for transforming our society.  My fellow kings visited last month and we had a visioning retreat where we concluded that equitable … Continue reading »

Posted in: Action, Tax Justice | Tagged: , , , ,

Part III: Taking risks

Part III: Taking risks

This post is a part III of a three part blog series and RG campaign, “It Starts Today: Moving $1 Million to Black-Led, Black Liberation Organizing.” Visit our campaign webpage.

Written by Lily Andrews, bex kolins, Jason Rodney, and Jen Willsea

Photo by Drew Tucker

Young Black leaders in Ferguson and around the country have mobilized every day since August 10. If you are reading this and haven’t spent time on the ground in Ferguson, imagine for a moment what might change for you if you did. If you decided that you too would say “This stops today¹.” One young Black leader in Ferguson said he lost both his jobs because he decided it was more important to be building a movement in the streets². How might your conviction change if you were surrounded by peers taking that level of risk? How would your relationships deepen if you spent every day together moving through policed land demanding justice? How might that shift your perspective about what is possible?

At Resource Generation, in just 3 months (Oct-Dec 2014), individuals gave over $200,000 to support frontline organizing efforts in Ferguson, Missouri.  Half of this money purchased housing and work spaces; a vehicle; … Continue reading »

Posted in: Action, GIving, Racial Justice | Tagged: , , , , , , ,