Solidaire was formed in 2013 as a community of people making change, inspired by the progression of movement moments from anti-austerity, to the Arab Spring, to Occupy. It has since grown to become a vibrant network of donors and movement leaders working toward social justice. Having transitioned from its founding leadership to a new executive director, and anticipating the challenges and opportunities emerging in 2020 (including, but not limited to, the U.S. election cycle), it engaged in a Strategy Evaluation and Theory of Liberation process to set its strategic direction—and desired outcomes—for the next three years (2019-22).
Solidaire was born out of the movement moment manifested by Occupy and the awareness it raised about the limitations of traditional philanthropy. Built as a network of people of wealth making change by working in partnership with movement, Solidaire positioned itself as an alternative to the risk-averse and slow-moving philanthropic mainstream. It used this audacious spirit to make bold moves, motivating new investment and adopting a three-pronged funding approach utilizing Rapid Response, Movement R&D, and Aligned Giving Strategy tools. Guiding all of this has been Solidaire’s desire to be transformational rather than merely transactional, to bring more money to the movement ecosystem, and to bring more than money to its work of social change.
Solidaire continues to learn from resourcing and building relationships with Black and Indigenous led movements throughout the United States. We are eager to further build our capacity to enact practices away from exploitation and extraction and towards abundance, connection and collective liberation. To do so, we are ready to engage in culture change from the inside out; to build the infrastructure necessary to support this transformational project; to become an even more effective, aligned and powerful network of donor organizers.
This moment of opportunity led Solidaire to embark on this Strategy Evaluation and Theory of Liberation process described, to define its strategic direction—and outcomes—for the next three years (2019-22).
Solidaire’s process of clarifying our new Strategic Direction and Theory of Liberation began in February of 2019, with a team of key staff and members, committed to journeying together along with facilitator and veteran organizer Shiree Teng.
Among other work, the ToL process involved a deep community input phase in which Solidaire members, movement leaders, funder partners, and other key stakeholders participated in online surveys and phone interviews. From these conversations we received very key insights and questions, with highlights below:
“The values you are bringing to the ecosystem is a huge complement and a huge challenge to the donor community and an invitation…even your analysis about money and wealth and power dynamics.”
“…also wondered and had questions around if the strategy of Solidaire is only focused on rapid response? What is ultimately the vision that we’re trying to achieve together and the role of these different vehicles? What are they achieving as part of that vision?”.
“…Moving resources in a rigorous way is important. Moving resources at scale is important too—it’s weird to say donors are sharing power with movements when the grants being given are very small but the capacity for giving is much, much larger.”
“Solidaire would need to demonstrate more commitment and action to transform the “being” of donors. One can be entitled and superior even while giving money to the “right” progressive causes. Solidare could become a force that demands more rigor and transformational behavior from donors/funders.”
This direction-setting process received robust input from its network members and key partners, Solidaire staff and Steering Committee members. Together, we engaged in a process of reflection, visioning, and strategy development. This process has energized Solidiare behind a bold purpose in service of its current vision:
We envision a world where racism, economic exploitation, and disregard for the wellbeing of the planet no longer destroys whole communities to benefit a few; a world where all people have power to shape the decisions that affect their lives, and to flourish.
Solidaire works to fundamentally change economic, political and cultural power systems by growing and nurturing a network of resource organizers to accompany movements for social and racial justice.
• And so that the revenue streams of social movement organizations in the United States are increasingly less dependent on traditional philanthropy and foundations.
• In so doing, we as a network of resource holders are transformed into resource organizers, moving new and unprecedented amount of solidarity and support to the frontlines of social justice.
Grow the Solidaire network to have 300+ donor organizer members, engaging them through 12 regional hubs and active working groups.
Leverage Solidaire’s giving mechanisms to increase donor investments in a range of power building strategies for intersectional and interdependent movements. Serve as a critical resource mobilization arm for movements.
Strengthen donor practices through praxis based political education and peer learning to shape a new paradigm that positively transforms relationships between donors and movements.