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How Social Justice Fuels Philanthropy

Resource Center - Foundation

Simone JoyauxIssues of equality surrounding race, gender and sexual orientation have come increasingly into focus over the last three years.  To understand this kind of progress and make these kinds of changes takes resources. AFP had a chance recently to chat with Simone Joyaux about how social justice fuels philanthropy, the topic of her upcoming webinar on June 13

Q.  What are some prime examples of how social justice has historically fueled philanthropy?

 A.  I think we usually think about how philanthropy fuels social justice. But it's interesting to reverse the thought. I think the desire for social justice provides movements. And movements require philanthropy, voluntary action for the common good. That voluntary action is both volunteering time and giving money. So the desire for justice produces people who volunteer time and give money to produce change.

 Q.  So much has happened in this past year – marriage equality, questions of police brutality and now “religious freedom” bills such as North Carolina’s HB2.  How have you seen the fundraising community meet these challenges?

 A.  So the question is, which fundraising community are we talking about? Corporations are often (usually?) risk averse. But look at all the corporations and singer stars and others who have spoken out against HB2. And the U.S. seems to respond to corporations more than calls for justice from individuals.

 So when a social justice issue negatively affects corporations (e.g., their employees or customers), then the fundraising community might turn to corporations to speak out against the injustice issue. And the fundraising community might even get corporations to help finance part of the fight.

 The rapid movement of marriage equality in the U.S. (which dramatically succeeded while a woman's right to choose hasn't succeeded well enough) demonstrates that social justice issues can generate charitable gifts. Whenever there's yet another bad governmental move or violation of justice, the fundraising community can raise more money from their social justice devotees.

 Q.  Do you have a social justice hero/heroine?  

 A.  I actually have quite a few social justice heroes/ heroines: Gloria Steinem. Fredrick Douglass. Estelle Griswold. Martin Luther King, Jr. The women and men in the Underground Railroad. Rosa Parks. Each of the individuals and families who chose to launch the SCOTUS cases.

 Too many to name!

 Q.  You mention the ethics of access in fundraising – what do you mean by that?

 A.  The final chapter in my co-authored book Keep Your Donors describes what I consider to be Philanthropy's Moral Dilemma. The race for big money—which then means we pay more attention to big-moneyed people. And much of big money is based on unearned privilege. And those are the same people we want on our boards. And we value people for their financial assets rather than other things. And that is injustice.

 Where are the ethics for valuing every donor and every gift? Where are the ethics of justice? Because I think justice is a moral and ethical issue.

 Q.  You’re such a music-phile.  Who are you listening to at the moment that you would recommend?

 A.  So I've been playing around with music that actually can be interpreted as a fundraising song. When Lesley Gore sang "You Don't Own Me," well, she's singing as a donor. You don't own me. I'm my own person!

And Carly Simon's "You’re So Vain." She's talking about your organization. You keep thinking that fundraising and giving is about you. It's not!

Of course, I'm a 60s and 70s person. Hard rock. Acid rock. The Beatles. And Dylan. And jazz—current but mostly old time. And do you know the Orchestra de Baobab du Senegal? And recently I've discovered the Australian Xavier Rudd!


To find out more about the relationship of fundraising and social justice join us for Simone’s webinar on June 13, 2016 at 1:00 PM Eastern, “How Social Justice Fuels Philanthropy”. 

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