Justice Funders provides critical thought leadership for philanthropy to support a Just Transition. The Resonance Framework has informed the evaluation and learning of the Surdna Foundation's Sustainable Environments portfolio over the past several years. Alison Corwin, Senior Program Officer - Sustainable Environments, Surdna Foundation

Resonance: A Framework for Philanthropic Transformation

Resonance: A Framework for Philanthropic Transformation is a guide to support you and your philanthropic organization in accelerating a Just Transition by reducing extractive practices and increasing regenerative practices.

Developed by Justice Funders & The Resonance Collaborative

Justice Funders is a partner and guide for philanthropy in reimagining practices that advance a thriving and just world. We envision a world that honors the sacredness of our natural resources and recognizes the inalienable rights of all. We assert that philanthropy must take an active role in building this world by redistributing all aspects of well-being, democratizing power and shifting economic control to communities.

The Resonance Collaborative is a constellation of movement and philanthropic leaders, anchored by Justice Funders, which aims to facilitate a Just Transition for philanthropy.

Why Resonance?

Resonance is “the intensification and enriching of a musical tone by supplementary vibration”; “a quality of richness or variety”; and “a quality of evoking response.” – Merriam Webster

A common refrain in social change-oriented philanthropy is, “We have to get beyond the choir.” The embedded assumption among funders – regardless of issue area, sector or affinity – is that “we” are the choir and that the real power for making change is in talking to others outside of it.

At Justice Funders, we have heard this sentiment from our partners and peers in philanthropy since our beginnings. However, our experience tells us that there is not really a choir. Funders are not singing the same song, in the same key, let alone in harmony. For example, there is a common practice of individual foundations developing their own strategy, rather than collaborating with other funders to develop a shared strategy. Our perspective is that philanthropy has many excellent soloists, but is far from forming a choir. Coming together at conferences is important for identifying choir members and perhaps choosing a songbook. However, to achieve harmony, a choir needs to practice.

To begin to create a choir committed to practice, in 2015 Justice Funders published The Choir Book: A Framework for Social Justice Philanthropy. [1] We then launched the Harmony Initiative, [2] a community of practice to accelerate the adoption of grantmaking practices that achieve equity and justice. With over 40 alumni, we are witnessing the philanthropic harmony we envisioned. For example, Ceres Trust and the Latino Community Foundation no longer request budgets as part of their grant decision-making processes, and Metta Fund reduced its application process to increase its net grants.

Now, we are looking to intensify and enrich values aligned philanthropic practices to the levels necessary to bring about a Just Transition in philanthropy. In other words, we seek to create a resonance of philanthropic practices that redistribute wealth, democratize power and shift economic control to communities.

“Philanthropy is not synonymous with social justice, social change, or even charity. In fact, philanthropy, like extreme poverty, is simply a byproduct of social, gender, racial, and economic injustice.”

Rodney Foxworth, Philanthropy Will Not Save Us

1. justicefunders.org/choir-book/
2. justicefunders.org/harmony

Next Section: Executive Summary