Is Institutional Philanthropy Structured to Support Successful Social Change?

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team. This is a guest post by Lee Draper, Chair of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO of the Draper Consulting Group.

By:  Lee Draper

A few of the Philanthropy 411 bloggers have offered reactions to the Council on Foundations Mini-Plenary, “Social Justice: From Here to 2030”.  I’d like to add another vantage point on the ideas presented.  The panel was composed of some of the most experienced and effective social change leaders from diverse countries and conflicts, moderated by Gara LaMarche of The Atlantic Philanthropies:

  • Akwasi Aidoo, Executive Director of TrustAfrica
  • Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change.
  • Ana Paula Hernandez, Consultant, Angelica Foundation
  • Van Jones, Founder of Green for All
  • Avila Kilmurray, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland
  • Kumaran Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace
  • Eboo Patel, Founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core
  • Connie Rice, Co-Director of the Advancement Project – Los Angeles

First, a definition offered by the panel.  Although social change may ultimately strive to achieve equal opportunity and justice for all, it has additional components:

  • There must be a moral commitment and focus on the marginalized (by poverty, ethnicity, religion, etc.)
  • It involves organizing and empowerment, not amelioration (here is where Paul Connolly commented in his blog entry about this panel that change and charity are important to the equation).
  • It addresses structural changes for lasting impact.

Now, to the core of the quandary.  The panel questioned whether philanthropy had the capacity to support social change due to embedded structural and behavioral impediments.  Their verdict is that if individual grantmakers truly want to achieve social change, they must begin by changing themselves from the inside out, comprehensively and immediately.

To continue reading, visit Philanthropy411.soci

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