Found: Community Centric Fundraising

I found this today traveling around the internet and I’m so so glad that I did. I learned recently about Vu Le and the site Nonprofit AF and through that found this new (a year old) movement to focus on Community Centric Fundraising.

I’ve worked in development and philanthropy for over 20 years now, and always felt a little…wrong about it, frankly. Philanthropy means love of mankind and that’s not the part I feel weird about. There is this…sense that in the modern vernacular philanthropy is…just wealth being gifted to the needy, mostly often in a way that protects the wealthy. A use of vast amounts of wealth to obstensibly solve problem, salve need, and support humanity. But then things like this get institutionalized. I’m sure many in the nonprofit world have heard of nonprofit industrial complex, almost needing problems to remain for institutions to stay funded (thereby paying people, creating jobs etc). I’ve always thought we need more overall social welfare supporting all of us, but I’m a little bit leftist like that.

And philanthropy has been pretty white, let’s be honest. With white ethics and ethos, and been very donor centered to the point of nonprofits catering to the wealthy to receive donations, and because of this the institutions were nearly required to resist real DEIA strategies. As national and state funding in certain areas has decreased (mental and health care, arts, education), there is increased pressure to utilize philanthropic methods to fill those gaps.

I recall having this very conversation at a former job, when we were tasked with developing a student philanthropy program, in part to keep a pipeline of alumni giving increase, even as state funding for higher ed was dwindling to where it was hard to see the institution as publicly funded at all. Staff a-plenty were concerned about racism, sexism, and homophobia in the work place and in meetings with donors, but never felt they could discuss it as it might alienate those with wealth. It was a top-down model structured in alignment with capitalism, and it was hard on a lot of folks who mostly wanted to do good work in the world.

So here is another model, and one I found smack dab in the midst of Global Black Philanthropy Month. “Community-Centric Fundraising is a movement to evolve how fundraising is done in the nonprofit sector. Its goal is to support fundraisers and other nonprofit professionals to re-examine every fundraising philosophy and practice they have been taught, engage in vigorous ongoing conversations, and explore doing fundraising in ways that reduce harm and further social justice.”

Their principles are dynamic and are focused on the community, the value of time, collaboration, a deep social justice analysis and of fundraising work as transformation, not just transactional.

I encourage you to check it out and see for yourself. I’m excited to learn more.

Personal Heresies for Impolite Company