This week we were proud to host dozens of grantee partners from across the country to strengthen our collective fundraising skills and strategies. "Fundraising for the Front Lines" was a two-day training led by Marjorie Fine and Sheena Brown, hosted at the Ford Foundation offices in New York City. Fine brought her hard-won experience over a career of fundraising for grassroots organizing, especially during her tenure leading the North Star Fund. Brown's development work at the Center for Popular Democracy and Color of Change has helped transform those organizations and built the expertise she shared with us.
Against a backdrop of urgent tasks for the movement and a shifting funder landscape, smart fundraising skills and practices are more important than ever. Fine and Brown provided us with everything from high-level strategic considerations to the nuts and bolts of making calls and doing direct donor outreach. But just as important was their insistence that grassroots organizations lift up fundraising across their entire organizations, instead of isolating development staff and resources. As Fine frequently points out, "fundraising is organizing." Keeping such efforts siloed and secret is not only ineffective, it's counterproductive. Through transparency, accountability, and clear communication, staff both inside and outside of development departments can and should take part in fundraising efforts.
Conversations during both days also highlighted the very real divide and power imbalance between grassroots, people-of-color-led organizations and the largely white and wealthy foundations from which they often seek funds — and, crucially, what we can do about it. Brown laid out the myriad ways classist behaviors, attitudes and policies impact our work and fundraising efforts, and Schott Vice President Edgar Villanueva encouraged participants to grapple with the fact that the wealth held by the philanthropic sector was accumulated through both historic and contemporary colonization, resource extraction, and exploitation. Not lost on anyone was that this week is also the 400th anniversary of the 1619 beginning of slavery in North America, an institution which still defines the contours of racialized wealth disparity in the United States.
A funder's briefing and reception closing out the second day of training. Click here to learn more >