"The Movement Commons presentation sparked so much for us at MG. Making the connections to help us shift out of a stance of people as donors to people as political actors who need political homes to root and guide them is such an important pivot." - Michelle Mascarenhas-Swan, Movement Generation

INNOVATION & ACTION LAB

Justice Funders puts our values into practice through our Innovation & Action Lab. We partner with philanthropic and movement leaders to design, pilot, and scale both innovation and collective action that advance social movements.

Our current project is Movement Commons

New website coming Fall ’21!  –  Latest updates:

Read our vision for a future without philanthropy as we know it today:  An End to Philanthropy, for the Love of Philanthropy (Medium blog post)

More writing: The Glorious Pull of Political Openings (Medium blog post)   Related webinar recording featuring Lucy Bernholz, Jara Dean-Coffey, and Divya Siddarth: SSIR Pre-conference Session: Syndemic Crises, Philanthropy and Civil Society

 

On Civic and Political Identities, Journeys, and Homes:

Justice, Giving, & Politics: Exploring relationships between giving circles and social justice (webinar recording/ resource) (write-up)

Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Bay Community Foundation – Inaugural Donor Leadership Cohort – Recap (presentation recording)

It has become clear that we need to engage our partners and leaders in this journey, in these times and with our new direction, it is no longer tenable to remain solely a philanthropic services organization. It’s become apparent that to meet our bold goals and vision we need a new model, for ourselves and all community foundations, for how to educate, engage and organize our donor community.  – EBCF’s Inaugural Donor Leadership Cohort Info Sheet

 

WHAT IS MOVEMENT COMMONS?

Movement Commons is a national campaign to re-imagine and practice transformative, regenerative, and collaborative approaches to building power and resourcing social justice movements. We bring together development staff in local cities and sites across the country to catalyze collective action that shifts practices away from scarcity and competition and towards abundance and cooperation, builds collective stewardship over our shared movement bases and resources, and promotes effective, values-driven ways to use technology as a means to nourish and support  the political journeys of everyday people.

Justice Funders believes that a just and thriving world cannot be achieved if institutional philanthropy is constrained by its ingrained practices that uphold the accumulation of wealth and power, while perpetuating systemic social and economic inequality. We recognize that philanthropic capital has been — and continues to be — accumulated through the extraction of wealth from low-income communities and communities of color. Therefore, we believe that philanthropy must undergo a deep, systems-level transformation whereby financial assets are redistributed to the communities most impacted by injustice by transferring the management and control of those resources to social justice movements that are advancing racial and economic justice.

It is when movements — rather than philanthropic institutions — have the economic power and self-determination over how resources are allocated, that they can leverage their political and cultural power toward advancing systemic change for a Just Transition.

To take responsibility for supporting our movements to build intentional practices and infrastructure to collectively steward those resources, Justice Funders is cultivating deep collaboration among social justice movement organizations, rooted in abundance and cooperation, to develop transformative approaches for raising and stewarding resources that build power for movement ecosystems.

WHY MOVEMENT COMMONS?

Institutional philanthropy does very little to disrupt this pattern, positioning groups in competition with one another for resources, demanding more time and attention with them and seldom allocating resources toward cross-organizational capacity building or collaboration.

In particular, supporter engagement is now defined by three pervasive factors:

  • Transactional, extractive approaches to fundraising with small and mid-size donors (e.g., mass e-blasts with no attention to the recipients’ interests or motivations, frequent asks solely for money, zero personalized engagement, etc.), in contrast to the more transformative and meaningful relationship-driven fundraising with high net worth donors and foundations (e.g., personalized communications and meetings, exclusive and celebratory experiences and learning opportunities, etc.).
  • Individualistic or competitive approaches to fundraising by organizations that are otherwise collaborating programmatically, with programmatic collaboration supported by foundation grants and convenings, but not administrative, communications and development collaboration and convening.
  • Increasing development staff isolation, both within organizations and externally, limiting the power and possibility for new modes of sustainable resource development through cross-organizational support of both staff and the donors they engage.
HOW DOES MOVEMENT COMMONS HELP TO TRANSFORM SOCIAL MOVEMENTS?

Movement Commons engages development staff in local movement ecosystems across the country to shift from transactional to transformational fundraising practices.

Our model is unique because we focus on development staff as powerful change agents, who have the ability to build practices and infrastructure for collective stewarding of movement resources in ways that build power for movement ecosystems.

Movements Commons helps to transform social movements in the following ways:

1. Movement Commons convenes and cultivates deep collaboration among social movement resource mobilizers.

  • Development Staff Dialogues – Hosted in communities nationwide, the Development Staff Dialogue brings movement resource mobilizers within a local community together to discuss and collectively pursue strategies to shift fundraising culture. We explore the present conditions, as well as their unique positioning, expertise, and opportunities to intervene individually and collectively. We discuss and explore a shift from a transactional mode of fundraising to a relationship-based, regenerative, and collaborative framework.
  • Communities of Learning & Practice – An outgrowth of the initial Dialogues, the Communities of Learning & Practice serve as an enduring peer space for resource mobilizers to build and strengthen relationships; share tools, experiments, and learnings; and to advance collective practices to strengthen the local movement ecosystem.

2. Movement Commons promotes new models and provides direct technical assistance to movement-building organizations to move from transactional to transformative engagement with individual supporters, particularly small and mid-size donors.

  • Movement Commons Thank You Letter – We redesigned the donor thank you letter experience in ways that embody cooperation and collectively, including introductions to partner organizations and opportunities to connect with others in their local community who are motivated to act. Following attendance at a Dialogue, many groups are now in the process of adopting the Movement Commons Thank You Letter.
  • Giving Side: A Platform to Support Individual Political Journeys – We provide interested organizations with access to Giving Side, a new technology platform, providing individuals with a private portal to reflect on all of the good they do and providing groups with aggregated data about their donor base.
  • Technical Assistance to Adopt New Practices – We support individual organizations in their adoption of transformative development practices.
  • Cross-Pollination for Stronger Movement Ecosystems – As we grow the Communities of Learning and Practice nationwide, we will lift up the models that are taking hold and making an impact, connecting organizations and facilitating adoption and replication in new sites.

Through Movement Commons, Justice Funders seeks to nurture a nationally connected network of development staff of movement building organizations across the country that are building a collaborative infrastructure to both collectively steward the commons and launch powerful cross-organizational interventions and campaigns.