“Doing the work of examining organizational culture is not about arriving at a destination, but instead starting a journey. Simply, it is about aligning the organization’s culture with its values.” Tyler Nickerson, Liberating Philanthropy From Its Self-Imposed Obsolescence

Guiding Principles & Values

The values and principles that undergird this framework include those articulated in The Choir Book: A Framework for Social Justice Philanthropy by Justice Funders. [14] The following value pairs serve as comprehensive guides for grantmakers in conducting philanthropic practices that support and align with social justice movements.

14. justicefunders.org/choir-book/


We believe that all people deserve equal rights and access, the dignity of self-determination and the agency to shape the decisions that impact their lives.


We seek to be effective and humble partners, allies and champions with and for communities, with an ecosystem view and a collaborative approach.


We strive to live and act consistently in accordance with our values, and work to be conscious of both personal growth edges and systemic constraints in a genuine, truthful and transparent manner.


We take personal responsibility to leverage our access, skills and power to benefit others, and take risks to try unproven approaches and to speak truth to power.

A Just Transition

The Resonance Framework is also grounded in and committed to the Just Transition principles.

While there are many iterations of the principles of Just Transition, we are guided by the ones curated by the Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), from their members and allies. [15] Below we share CJA’s Just Transition Principles, with added comments and emphasis for how each principle relates to philanthropic practice.


A Just Transition moves us toward Buen Vivir

“Buen Vivir means that we can live well without living better at the expense of others. Workers, community residents, women and Indigenous Peoples around the world have a fundamental human right to clean, healthy and adequate air, water, land, food, education and shelter. We must have just relationships with each other and with the natural world, of which we are a part. The rights of peoples, communities and nature must supercede the rights of the individual.”

In philanthropy, this principle guides us to shift from thinking about the many actions we could take (an inherently privileged perspective) to thinking about what is necessary for all to thrive. As part of this process, we acknowledge how communities and movements have been working towards Buen Vivir for hundreds of years and that not all cultures prioritize financial return over community and collective benefit. 


A Just Transition creates Meaningful Work

“A Just Transition centers on the development of human potential, creating opportunities for people to learn, grow and develop to their full capacities and interests. We are all born leaders, and a regenerative economy supports and nurtures that leadership. In the process, we are transforming ourselves, each other, our communities and our society as a whole. Meaningful work is life-affirming.”

In philanthropic practice, this principle guides us to fund in a way that recognizes and values the expertise and leadership of communities, rather than undermines their potential through restricted grants and extensive monitoring.


A Just Transition upholds Self-Determination and Builds Deep Democracy [16]

“All peoples have the right to participate in decisions that impact their lives. This requires democratic governance in our communities, including our workplaces. Communities must have the power to shape their economies, as producers, as consumers and in our relationships with each other. Not only do we have the right to self-determination, but self-determination is one of our greatest tools to realize the world we need. The people who are most affected by the extractive economy – the frontline workers and the fenceline communities – have the resilience and expertise to be in the leadership of crafting solutions.”

Related to the previous principle, upholding self-determination in philanthropic practice means ending the paternalistic and controlling behaviors towards grantees that are based in risk-aversion, and moving towards authentic partnership where grantees retain the right to design the solutions for their lives rather than have approaches imposed on them.


A Just Transition equitably redistributes Resources and Power

“We must work to build new systems that are good for all people, and not just a few. Just Transition must actively work against and transform current and historic social inequities based on race, class, gender, immigrant status and other forms of oppression. Just Transition fights to reclaim capital and resources for the regeneration of geographies and sectors of the economy where these inequities are most pervasive.”

Many might say that, by definition, philanthropy is about redistributing resources. Yet to truly embody this principle, philanthropy must move far beyond the 5% payout requirements for grants and distribute ALL of its power and resources. This includes spending down one’s endowment, investing in local and regional economic initiatives that build community wealth rather than investing in Wall Street, giving up decision-making power for grants, and, ultimately, turning over assets to community control.


A Just Transition requires Regenerative Ecological Economics

“Just Transition must advance ecological resilience, reduce resource consumption, restore biodiversity and traditional ways of life, and undermine extractive economies, including capitalism, that erode the ecological basis of our collective well-being. This requires a re-localization and democratization of primary production and consumption by building up local food systems, local clean energy and small-scale production that are sustainable economically and ecologically. This also means producing to live well without living better at the expense of others.”

This principle requires philanthropic institutions to recognize their role in reorganizing our economy in a way that is rooted in regenerative ecology. Everything from grantmaking to investment strategies, to organizational and operational practices, can be done in ways that honor the sacredness of our natural resources and supports a vibrant and resilient life for all people and the planet.


A Just Transition retains Culture and Tradition

“Capitalism has forced many communities to sacrifice culture and tradition for economic survival. It has also defaced and destroyed land held as sacred. Just Transition must create inclusionary spaces for all traditions and cultures, recognizing them as integral to a healthy and vibrant economy. It should also make reparations for land that has been stolen and/or destroyed by capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, genocide and slavery.”

Living this principle in philanthropy requires recognizing that dominant philanthropic practices represent one world view and culture, and it is infused with the values of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy. We must then work to break philanthropic practice out of those “source codes” and to make it more adaptable, accessible and just.


A Just Transition embodies Local, Regional, National and International Solidarity

“A Just Transition must be liberatory and transformative. The impacts of the extractive economy know no borders. We recognize the interconnectedness of our communities as well as our issues. Therefore, our solutions call for local, regional, national and global solidarity that confronts imperialism and militarism.”

This principle guides philanthropic institutions to break out of geographic and issue silos and to instead take an ecosystem approach. An ecosystem approach encourages funding to multiple organizations that have interdependent relationships to one another and are employing diverse, complementary strategies in ways that build social movement infrastructure and advance a shared vision over a sustained period of time. Ecosystems are defined by movement leaders who are accountable to an organized base (i.e. residents or community members). 


A Just Transition builds What We Need Now

“We must build the world we need now. This may begin at a local small scale, and must expand to begin to displace extractive practices. We must build and flex the muscles needed to meet our communities’ needs.”

This principle urges us to act immediately, looking for and creating the new philanthropic practices now that the world needs to achieve a Just Transition, rather than maintaining the status quo because “that’s how it’s always been done.”

16. More on what “Deep Democracy” means can be found here: http://movementstrategy.org/b/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lab-Report-Back-Booklet_Web-sized1.pdf

Next Section: A Spectrum of Extractive to Regenerative Philanthropy