By Tracey Webb, Founder, The Black Benefactors and BlackGivesBack.com

The Black Benefactors 5th anniversary party in 2012

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”African proverb

When I first learned about giving circles in 2002, I had no idea that at the time it was a growing philanthropic movement across the country.  My introduction came while I was a director of a nonprofit and a local women’s giving circle visited my program.  I became intrigued about how they worked and had many questions for them.  A couple of years later I transitioned to a career in grant making and soon after, I noticed that many of the black-led organizations in my portfolio experienced significant challenges – the same challenges I faced while running an organization that ultimately closed. As a grant maker I did as much as I could to help these organizations, but also knew that more needed to be done on a larger scale.  I began to research giving circles in my area to find any that supported black-led and founded nonprofits.   To my surprise, there was no mixed gender giving circle or fund in the DC region that benefited the African-American community.  This is what led me to launch The Black Benefactors (BB) seven years ago.

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Reposted from Ari Sahagun’s blog.

I just got back from an amazing discussion: Organization 2.0: Empowering our Understanding of Nimble Formations that Build Power hosted by the Bay Area Justice Funders Network. It was a rich and generative space to think about organizations, movements and networks.

I heard about it  as a local chapter leader of Resource Generation, and I attended this event to learn more about the shift from organization-centered thinking to movement and network paradigms.  It’s a new way of looking at the nonprofit sector and, more broadly, social justice movements.  What follows is a synthesis of what I heard and some of my thoughts from being in the room with a bunch of people thinking about a formative topic – a major transition in the field of social justice.

To give you a snapshot of how I understood who was in the room, check out this networkmap (so meta!).  Panelists and conveners are red nodes.

network

This is limited based on my brief glimpse, and if you’d like me to add you, let me know.

From the perspective of shifting from organization-centered thinking to network- and movement-level thinking, here are 5 key points that speak to the complexity of networks.

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Jun
10
2014

By Jay Saper, Margot Seigle & Andrew Meeker

At closing plenary

We are involved in a new Resource Generation member-led project called ReGenerative Finance, which formed last fall out of the Making Money Make Change conference. We are a commitment to fundamentally changing the very shape of the economy by intervening at the scale of finance: by shifting money from the extractive, speculative, “banks and tanks” economy into the interdependent, loving, sustainable, “new economy”, facilitating a Just Transition beyond capitalism.

As we are in the process of creating a model “movement portfolio” that proves that investing in a just transition to the next economy is in fact possible and in our collective self interest, we feel that it is of critical importance to learn from the most impacted communities who are already building alternative futures.

As young people with wealth, we have materially benefited considerably from money being extracted from communities of color. To us it is essential we work to disrupt that. We traveled to Jackson, Mississippi, for the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference to begin the process of figuring out what a powerful sense of solidarity might mean in the context of investment.

The capital of the poorest state in the country, Jackson is a city that has been economically distressed for years, with wealth continuously extracted from its 80% Black population. Refusing to tolerate despair, the people of Jackson are actively working to build a resilient economy that is controlled by the community and that helps to meet their various unmet basic needs.

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Based out of Cambridge, MA, Abe Lateiner is an class-activist focused on transformational philanthropy. Through choosing his parents wisely, Abe was born into a life of privilege and opportunity. Now, he fights for a society in which people with and without money are valued equally as change agents. Through his blog, “Risk Something,” Abe seeks to inspire other financially-wealthy people to open themselves to internal change at the same scale as the change they wish to see in the outside world.  This article was also reposted on Huffington Post.

In her talk with Thomas Piketty, Senator Elizabeth Warren offered a forceful argument for a progressive American tax system as a way to reduce inequality. As a young person with inherited financial wealth myself, I agree with Senator Warren’s proposal. 

But the quest for greater economic equality in America must be two-pronged. Politicians and policy-makers must lead the legal charge to make our rules fairer. Meanwhile, the rest of us are charged with changing hearts and minds–our own and those around us. 

If our legislature could somehow succeed in installing a progressive tax system (that’s quite an if!), would this be a short- or long-term victory? If we soak the “1%” but do nothing to win them over to the cause of making our country more equitable, can that victory really last? I don’t think so…and I wonder what a further-alienated 1% would do with the massive power they would still wield in an America with progressive taxes.

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Here are 3 facts that came across my inbox in the past 3 days:

1) A new report shows a revised estimate for the current generational wealth transfer between 2007-2061 is $59 trillion dollars!

What used to be popularly quoted at a $41 trillion collective inheritance, essentially, has now been increased to $59 trillion. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the transfer will be made within the richest 10% of US households.

Many things to unpack with this – one noteworthy topic is how racialized this is…

  • the Millennial generation is more than 50% people of color (by 2040, the majority of the US population overall will be people of color)
  • Wealth is incredibly disproportionately concentrated in the hands of white folks: the “top 1%” of US households are 96.1% white, 3.9% people of color.

… meaning, the vast majority of this transfer will stay incredibly disproportionately in the hands of (a very few) white people. Teaser to point #2 below, the richest 400 Americans hold more wealth than all 41 million Black people in the US combined. Continue reading

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by Liz Sullivan, Partner Leadership Team

We’ve all been there (or, at least, I hope it’s not just me); it’s 3 pm, and even though you have things to do, the Internet beckons with cat pictures to laugh at, endless articles to read, and enough YouTube videos to keep you parked at your laptop until next week. The Internet can be a distraction for sure, but it turns out that it can also be a damn good place to connect with each other. The RG partner leadership team has recently harnessed this power of connectivity and launched a new Tumblr called RG Partner Stories.

There are many partners in the RG community, but we don’t often have opportunities to physically come together to share our stories. Partners may struggle in isolation with questions or feelings that are hard to share. As RG member leaders and partners, we created this Tumblr to break down the physical distance and teach other what it means for us all individually to be partners in cross-class relationships. It’s also a chance for us to get to know each other and connect personally. While our relationship with class status, both old and new, is a part of our identity, it’s not our whole identity. The Tumblr is a place to share, “this is what my partner experience is like” and a little bit of “and this is who I am!”

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On a panel at the 2010 Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy pre-Council on Foundations Conference, I presented four suggestions for social justice funders to consider. Below are each of these four.

Of the many approaches to social change, I turn most towards movement-building strategies. As a funder, then, I’m constantly searching for the ways that my practice and work best align with the demands of such an approach. Below is the first of four such ways that I’ve come to believe strongly in.
1. Find a Political Home

Social justice movements require scale and scale, in turn, requires a level of consistent connectivity among people and organizations. Political homes – community-based and led social justice institutions or organizations that individuals are members of and with whom there is mutual investment and accountability – provide exactly this. We should find and join such places not only to contribute to an organization’s work, but, more so, as a space in which to be grounded, to continuously learn, to develop organizing skills, and to be only a phone call away for when those unpredictable political moments that can define social justice movements occur. CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities has been my political home for the past seven years. Time and again, CAAAV has not only responded to events and political openings, but also intentionally expanded the opportunity for others like myself to participate in those responses, from the ’06 immigration marches to the first United States Social Forum in ’07 to ’08 voter engagement efforts in Virginia. Just as important, CAAAV allows me to participate in the often unrecognized day-to-day contributions that have been the backbone of every social movement. CAAAV, in short, facilitates my choosing to engage in action over indulging in apathy. And, it does so by offering strategic and coordinated ways to act with a community of people I’ve grown to trust.

As a funder, being a member of a community-based organization allows me to be in dialogue with those to whom I most want to be accountable. It affords me the opportunity to understand at a deeper and more personal level the conditions faced by organizations that I support through grantmaking and to understand the realities of building such organizations. Only through having a political home have I’ve been able to access the experience, political analysis and honest feedback with which to ensure that my work is relevant and complimentary to the many moving parts of our social justice ecosystem.

Like any home, political homes bring their own sets of challenges and demands on our time. But, in the same spirit, they also position us to engage and engage better the world around us, allowing you and me to start from a place of love and support to which we can always return.

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My name is Anna Goren, and I am involved in an RG praxis group in Seattle, WA. I have always been interested in philanthropy —growing up in a practicing Jewish household, we were always encouraged to give by the principle of tzedakah. My community is very generous, and also very wealthy. I witnessed from a young age how philanthropy works both in the traditional sense and in the subtler, informal ways that communities care for themselves and others, that are not reflected on a plaque or pledge card. As a recipient of both of these types (and the privileges that come along with it) I wanted to write an article that tells the story of the less visible forms of giving, and the different type of power associated with it.

The following is a version of a post from The Seattle Globalist, posted March 31, 2014.

American philanthropy is no lemonade stand.

It is a 1.5 trillion dollar industry, using 10% of the national workforce, made up of 1.1 million organizations.

Even since the economic downturn, international giving was still at $19.1 billion in 2012.

Washington, with the Gates’s, Nordstroms, Paul Allen, and others so deeply entrenched in the private wealth of this region (along with our street signs and wall plaques), ranks highly on the national scale of giving, 15th out of 51 states, according to a 2012 study by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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Got a question for the second part in our #RichRoleModels series! What do you think?

 

 

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