Influencing public policy

Steven Burkeman

Most grantmakers are not really interested in change: they just want to do good, which need not be the same thing at all. Grantmakers do not, on the whole, question the notion that giving money away to so-called good causes is ‘a good thing’ in itself, believing that if there is something evidently kindly and beneficial being done with the money, then there is nothing more to worry about. They are supported in this approach by the many grant-seeking charities which are themselves focused only on the immediate relief of the symptoms of whatever ill it is that they seek to address, and by conventional understandings of charity law, which have led many to believe, erroneously, that an involvement in anything which might, however remotely, be linked with politics, is prohibited.

However, increasingly, some in the grantmaking business have begun to question this. Inspired, perhaps, by the examples of a few of the older foundations who always stood out against the traditional ideas, more funders are devoting at least part of their expenditure to work which seeks to change the circumstances which gave rise to the need for charity in the first place. MHF is one of those.

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