March 29, 2008

New Thinking from Steve Mayer on Just Philanthropy

I received a note from Steve Mayer with a new resource that I want to share. Steve's firm, Effective Communities, has launched a website, to help philanthropy move closer to social justice and racial equity. The site carries a practical and optimistic tone, insisting that progress is possible. It includes key pathways and promising practices for philanthropic investment, benchmarks, links to practitioner organizations, resource articles, and tools.

Take a look at pathways to progress on the website - a tool that can help you see where you are and where you can move forward in ways that can close gaps and level playing fields. Steve says that helping your own organization and others make progress on these pathways is what spells success. The paths include:

  • Preparing: Gearing your organization’s efforts to achieve greater effectiveness in its mission along with success in reducing disparities.

  • Talking: Searching for the high road – learning how to talk about challenging issues without flaming the room.

  • Solutions: Moving promising solutions from idea to successful implementation.

  • Leadership: Strengthening relationships based on trust inside and outside the organization, strengthening and broadening networks, and surfacing leadership that can bridge divides.

  • Philanthropy: Gathering philanthropic assets – time, talent, and treasure – and focusing them on the chosen goal.

  • Fixing: Putting these all together to fix a particular broken part of our society’s systems and markets to achieve better balance.

The funders in my world - those involved with grassroots grantmaking who already have at least a foot in social justice and racial equity work - may find that these materials can help them be more intentional about taking their work deeper. The relationships that they have because of their grassroots grantmaking work and the organizational commitment that funding resident-initiated and led neighborhood work requires gives them a head start for the deeper work that Steve describes.

For those of you who don't know, Steve Mayer was the founder of Rainbow Research and the author, with David Scheie, of Supporting Low-Income Neighborhoods: A Guide for Community Foundations - a 1989 publication that has stood the test of time as one of the best basic resources for funders who want to get into grassroots grantmaking.


  1. The website is a great resource - thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Glad you like it, Tony. Thanks for posting a comment!