Astraea’s blog, Collective Care Blog: Building the Power & Resilience of LBTQI Movements Now & for the Long Haul, is Astraea’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a feminist LBTQI funder, we believe it is our responsibility to shed light on the ways our communities are particularly impacted by the crisis, share insights around the criticality of healing justice and collective care, as well as the ways in which we’re digging deep to keep shifting power to the grassroots in meaningful and sustainable ways.
The Astraea Foundation is thrilled to announce that we have received a $4 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, as part of her 2019 pledge to donate the majority of her wealth back to the society that helped generate it. As one of 116 recipients, we are in extraordinary company with many gender, racial, economic and climate justice organizations fighting for transformative social change.
Scott’s giving strategy demonstrates what responsible and values-driven redistribution of wealth can look like for big-dollar donors looking to meaningfully invest in a more equitable society. Her strategy of resourcing across multiple social justice movements is a remarkable model for philanthropy that centers organizational leadership by those most impacted by inequities. Of the organizations awarded funding, “91 percent of the racial-equity organizations are run by leaders of color, 100 percent of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders and 83 percent of the gender-equity organizations are run by women, bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems”.
In addition to lifting up intersectional movement ecosystems necessary to drive transformative change, Scott also notes that resources of all kinds are needed by social justice movements and all contributions matter. As a public foundation, Astraea works in strategic partnership with donors of all levels to ensure that their resources reach self-led LBTQI groups working for racial, gender and economic justice who are best positioned to drive transformative change. Each and every single donor who has supported Astraea over our 43 years by contributing their time, resources or energy, we thank you! Whether you commit to donating $5 a month or give a significant one-time gift, you are an integral part of an ecosystem of support that enables us to do the work we are all charged to do – collectively resource our movements. Thank you for being in community and in solidarity with us.
We know that when we uplift self-led groups and engage in responsive grantmaking with unrestricted, long-term support, we resource movements to build capacity, strengthen coalitions and envision solutions that bring about lasting change. Multi-year unrestricted resourcing supports grassroots groups to navigate crises like COVID-19 and its impacts on their communities even as they continue and deepen their ongoing work to upend complex structural inequities. Grantmaking can and must shift power to those who are closest to the issues being addressed.
Unfortunately, philanthropy as a whole has yet to catch up to this need: as of 2018, only 20 percent of nonprofit funding in the United States was unrestricted, tying nonprofits to donors’ aims. Funding often fails to reach those on the frontlines of social justice movements – especially LBTQI people and indigenous, Black, Latinx and other racialized communities – cutting off resources from where they are most needed. For example, in 2017-2018, the Global Philanthropy Project and Funders for LGBTQ Issues found that global LGBTI foundation funding made up less than 31 cents of every $100 of overall foundation giving. A new report from the Ms. Foundation revealed that total philanthropic giving to women and girls of color is about $5.48 per year for each woman or girl of color in the United States. Our own research in collaboration with American Jewish World Service, GATE and Mama Cash shows that most LBQ, trans and intersex organizations are operating with budgets of $10,000 or less.
These statistics further demonstrate what we know to be true: philanthropy is awash in contradictions, with gatekeepers keeping resources from the very communities from whom they have built their wealth. We hold a deep awareness of what it means to steward resources that come from the same harmful systems that we and our grantee partners seek to transform. We recommit ourselves to the long-term effort to dismantle the systems of capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy that make an entity like Astraea necessary to help hold philanthropy accountable – even as we sit within philanthropy as a bridge to our movements. We are reminded that it is our movements that have been putting forward this vision over so many years: liberate your wealth and return it to the people from whom you have profited.
Thank you again to all of Astraea’s donors, partners, and supporters. When we work in concert to be in true partnership with our movements and take their lead in the use of resources, collective liberation is possible.