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.