In this moment of crisis, philanthropy should get behind social movements

Charles Keidan

I’m writing this introduction to our June issue as the aftermath of the global coronavirus pandemic continues to engulf the world. As I write in late April, my children have been off school and nursery for six weeks missing the simple pleasure of play with others their own age and size. Work routines have been turned upside down and the space between domestic and work spheres has effectively collapsed. Many have lost lives. Many more have seen their livelihoods vanish.

In this time of uncertainty and upheaval, philanthropy in all its forms, from mutual aid to major gifts, has come to life. The world’s largest foundations have made substantial commitments, sector bodies have called for endowments to be drawn on and for funding practices to change. Core funding has become philanthropic orthodoxy amid an impressive willingness to respond to immediate needs.

As the social and economic impact of the pandemic becomes clearer, the dramatic events of recent months are likely to generate a new wave of social movements of all shapes and sizes at the cutting edge of social change. The relationship of social movements to philanthropy is the focus of this long-planned issue.

Data from Candid suggests that less than 1 per cent of funding goes to support movements. Here is an area in which institutional philanthropy has been missing in action. Yet this crisis could be the moment when philanthropy first understands and then really gets behind social movements.

This issue of Alliance was originally proposed over 18 months ago by South African philanthropy practitioner Halima Mahomed, who noted how social movements were changing the African continent while seemingly passing philanthropy by. Halima is joined as guest editor by Graciela Hopstein in Brazil and Romy Krämer in Spain to give you a global overview of social movement philanthropy. I want to pay particular tribute to them as well as all our contributors and the whole of Alliance’s board, staff and freelance team for making this issue possible.

And most of all, thank you to you, our community of readers and friends. You are our own social movement in the philanthropy sector committed to improving and bringing out the best in philanthropy while also being willing to call attention to its shortcomings. That’s exactly what philanthropy needs at the present time, to make the best possible contribution, and I hope our coverage in this issue is a fitting contribution to that endeavour.

Charles Keidan is the Editor of Alliance magazine.


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