Keeping in mind the recent successes achieved by the marriage equality movement in the US, I wanted to share a video that explains how some of these achievements came to be. In this video recorded during the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Strategic Planning Process you can watch an amazing presentation by Ted Trimpa where he discusses how the marriage equality movement created a successful infrastructure to launch and maintain an effective national campaign. I wonder if some of the lessons he shared could be picked up by climate campaigners in the US and beyond, especially the linkage between philanthropy, policy and political spending to create social change.
Since I moved to Germany over a year ago, I have not paid as much attention to philanthropy as I used to when I worked at the Environmental Grantmakers Association and at a few US-based non-governmental organizations. However, I just saw a tweet referencing an article by on PhilanTopic and could not help to share my thoughts, so I posted a comment on a blog post titled “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” describing the way that the majority of US foundations do not want grant-seekers to send in unsolicited proposals.
My comment reads:
I think this is the most important part of this article: “… so if you happen to be part of the process, you’ll most likely get a grant. If not, well, you’re just not part of the in-crowd.”
How are people coming from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds going to “try to find someone who knows a board member, a staff person, or any other connection that would help get them in the door”?
This post just reaffirms that organized philanthropy still has a long way to go in order to become a truly progressive force for social good… Otherwise it is just an avenue for those in “the in-crowd” to push their own agendas and perpetuate their wealth by only giving out 5% of their assets while keeping the other 95% of their money locked up in foundation trusts in perpetuity.
I hope that others comment on this blog post, especially those working in the fields of social justice philanthropy and mission-related investments. This may help address issues of power and exclusivity that are a strong component of how professional philanthropy works in the US.