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A Letter to Friends with Wealth

IN THE WAKE OF THIS ELECTION:

Dear friends concerned about the impending Trump Presidency,

In the past few days we have received an outpouring of requests for information on how funds might be most effectively deployed in response to the impending Trump Presidency. This letter is a first response to those questions and we would love to be in dialogue with you about the landscape of opportunities, risks and strategies that is unfolding.

On November 8th we lost the Presidency, Congress, and the Supreme Court, as well as two thirds of state legislatures. Trump has already stated his intention to deport 2 million people, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and open up our natural resources to the highest bidder. Too many lives and irreversible damage to our ecosystem are on the line. We need to respond to immediate needs while also doubling down on long-term investments in organized communities that will be most vulnerable to this new normal and that continue to be systematically underfunded. We now face a future where hatred and exclusion are publicly endorsed by the highest office. It is up to all of us to step in and take action.

We did have a few significant local wins that point the way forward for future investments: minimum wage ballot initiatives, changes to the voting rules in Maine, automatic voter registration in Alaska, marijuana legalization in several states, a major criminal and juvenile ballot reform measure in California, voters rejecting reactionary prosecutors in numerous states, and women of color elected to congress and state legislatures. Based on early reports, these wins were grounded in investment in the organizing and leadership of communities of color. It is effective and necessary give to organized communities contending for political power at the local and state level and to supportive national movement infrastructure that helps local organizing win and add up to more than the sum of its parts.

The following are some ideas for how to think about our funding from the first 100 days through the next four years. All of these suggestions are offered with an underlying value of following the lead of organizations that will be closest to these issues. Rather than to develop our own strategies, we want to listen, learn, and commit to working together as a movement for justice and equality over the upcoming years. This is just a beginning, and we do not have all the answers, but hopefully these recommendations can offer guidance during this time. If you have thoughts to add, please email us at [email protected].

1)  Commit to Community:  

If you are not part of a donor network, consider joining one. It is crucial right now that we communicate, learn together and work together. We have found our work at Solidaire to be most nourishing and effective when we are taking action from an enduring community of support and coordination. In addition, organize in your own community: reach out to your friends with access to resources and encourage them to give, or to give bigger and bolder. Host or join a gathering with your friends and neighbors to talk about the actions we can take to support communities that will be threatened during this administration. And be in touch with local organizations to understand how they’re being impacted and how to support their needs.

2)  Stand in Solidarity:

Remain steadfast in commitment to the defense of vulnerable communities. There are communities that will be targeted particularly hard by the next administration: documented and undocumented immigrants, Muslims, refugees, women, queer and trans people, Black communities, and disabled individuals. Give to legal defense, civil rights lawyers and bail funds. Develop a visible means of standing in solidarity, and when you do, encourage your friends and family to take those steps as well.  

3)  Support Resistance and Uprisings:

There are many organizations that will contest the xenophobia and racism of the new presidency and will be taking to the streets. They will be putting their bodies on the line to defend their clinics, their homes, their families, their neighbors. Movements will be criminalized in new ways. These individuals and organizations will need support.  They will be taking risks and we will need to take risks with them. (To be kept in the loop about rapid funding requests or hear about these organizations, consider joining Solidaire to be part of our communications.)

4)  Be a Part of Creating a Transformative Vision:

We frequently want to do what seems practical rather than what is necessary. We water down our goals and hedge our bets. But we know now that nothing is impossible and the country is longing for deep structural changes. Now, more than ever, it is time to support visionary and bold ideas, organizations that are challenging the status quo and attempting to transform our economy, to end white supremacy, and to change our relationship to the environment.  Fund organizations that are putting out big ideas for an economy that works for all.

5)  Create Spaces for Strategizing and Learning Together:  

Even as we respond to the urgency of the current moment, movement leaders need support to sustain their activism and grow in effectiveness over time. We will need to provide leadership development grants for trainings and political education, capacity-building grants for organizations/networks, and support for convenings to develop strategy and alignment. Organizations will be trying to create cross-cutting and intersectional strategies and will need the freedom and resources to be together in person as they forge a path forward.

6)  Make Long-Term Commitments to Building Community Power:  

Fund organizations that are building power for working and low-income people of color and white people so that they have a voice and can fight for their interests and the interests of us all. One of the lessons of this election is the need to deeply rethink how to engage with working class white people. Over the past decades, republicans waged a concerted effort to destroy organized labor, and this has worked, leaving many these communities without infrastructure. There are many organizations in the midwest, south, and rural areas that are attempting to create economic security in a way that is inclusive rather than divisive, where the struggles of poor white people and people of color are held together and understood as inextricably intertwined.

But while we need to support in those communities, it is crucial that we do not displace funding from communities of color. Fundamentally, the results of this election require us to examine the ways in which racism is deeply entrenched in US society. Philanthropy is complicit in the inequities around us when we fail to provide support to communities of color who are trying to build power. We must, going forward, make much more serious commitments to organizations led by black and brown people, who have an explicit vision for racial justice.  

Solidaire has created an Aligned Giving Strategy to invest $50M in the ongoing work of Black-led organizations building the cultural, economic and political power of Black communities over the next five years. We are in a marathon, not a sprint, and our funding needs to provide organizations with the strength to go the distance. If you want to participate in our shared five-year strategy, contact [email protected].

~~~~~

While the moment is urgent we must also prepare for what will be a long-term fight for a world in which every person is safe and can live a life of dignity. If you would like information about specific organizations we recommend supporting, please contact us at [email protected]. All of us will need to become organizers, to make sacrifices, and act boldly. We hope you will join us.

In solidarity,

Leah Hunt-Hendrix
Founder & Executive Director
Solidaire

 

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