Community-Driven Philanthropy is a Nonprofit Quarterly series in which movement leaders explore what’s possible if philanthropy adopts a reparative model—one in which it supports the leadership of BIPOC communities, not just by writing grants, but by shifting assets and control over resources to frontline communities.
Whatever you think about the growing role of megadonors in the nonprofit field, the sheer size—often equivalent to the total annual revenue of recipients—of the unrestricted grants that donors such as MacKenzie Scott have made to hundreds of nonprofits has injected a new sense of possibility into the field.
Notably, Scott has infused funds into sectors long overlooked or ignored by other philanthropists and foundations. Her approach has benefited from a rigorous selection process informed and strengthened by advisors with ears to the ground—who have relationships with people on the frontlines of social change work—and by an emphasis on investments that reveal and address inequities in the philanthropic field.
Given the stark realities of generational trauma and structural inequities, building a pluralist democracy in the US requires a multifaceted strategy—coordinated across many movements, industries, and fields—that is accountable for and seeks to repair past injustices. This strategy requires centering narrative and cultural strategy and prioritizing BIPOC leaders as stewards of this work.
The question of land (and its loss) has been prominent throughout African American history. After the US Civil War, many formerly enslaved Black people made tremendous efforts to acquire land. Even though the Union promise of “40 acres and a mule” was not honored, African Americans bought land where they could. By 1910, Black farmers owned somewhere around 14 percent of all US farmland—with estimates of land holdings exceeding 15 million acres. These gains have since been largely reversed.
Imagine a table. Now imagine a group of people who’ve come together at that table to talk. As at any table around which people gather, hierarchy will shape the ensuing conversation, whether participants acknowledge it or not: Whose table is it? Whose room?
The movement for reparations in the United States—a Black-led movement that began even before slavery’s end—is making unprecedented strides forward, and governments across the country are beginning to act.
This collection was originally published on www.nonprofitquarterly.org.
- Helping the Rich Let Go (Collins)
- What Does Community Development for Liberation Look Like? (Dubbs)
- Rewriting the Rules: the Ujima Boston Project (Doner)
- Sankofa Philanthropy: Hip Hop’s Sixth Element (Terrell)