Building the infrastructure for social justiceImagine, if you will, a non-profit project run by a small team of passionate volunteers who are planting fruit trees on unused patches of land in a disadvantaged urban neighbourhood. They’re having an awesome impact on the local community in many ways, but the small amount of time and resources available to them all gets used up on materials and physical work. Which do you think would be more useful to this project and to the community in the long run - a donation of 1000 seedlings, or an equivalent donation of funds that would allow them to hire staff, train more volunteers, and scale up their operations to other suburbs?
We've all heard the “Give a man a fish/Teach a man to fish” quote. This is a very relevant concept when it comes to the global movement for a brighter world, one that applies to organisations as well as individuals.Last month major philanthropic organisation the Ford Foundation announced that it is changing its funding strategies, with a new focus is on curbing inequality. A very large part of how it aims to accomplish this is through doubling its grants for operational support in non-profit organisations.1 The Ford Foundation is “an independent, global organisation with a legacy of commitment to innovative leaders on the frontlines of social change”. Since its establishment in 1936 it has distributed more than $US16 billion in grants worldwide. Ford president Darren Walker said that doubling general operating support to 40% of the foundation's grantmaking budget will enable the creation of a "social justice infrastructure". This means in excess of $1 billion will be given over five years in unrestricted grants to build the capacities of grantees, allowing them to cover essential costs including staffing and organisational development. One Health Organisation sees this as a very welcome step indeed, as our focus is on working to enable and amplify the work of organisations and individuals that are involved in providing grass roots healthcare initiatives to communities in need. A shift away from funding 'bowls of soup' to funding organisational resilience and brilliance allows non-profits to take on ambitious social change efforts - something that is essential if societies are to tackle the causes of injustice rather than just its symptoms. The strong emphasis on equality is also gladly welcomed. Inequality is on the rise in Australia, according to a new study by the Australian Council of Social Service. "In a country as wealthy as ours, all citizens should be included and able to realise their potential. In this way we could proudly pursue a fairer, more inclusive society, to advance the common good." said Dr Cassandra Goldie of ACOSS.2 Rising inequality is an alarming trend, considering that the higher the degree of income inequality in a society, the worse are its rates - amongst both poor AND rich - of health, violence, mental illness, drug addiction, obesity, loss of community life, imprisonment, unequal opportunities and poorer well-being for children.3 Equality is one of the four core values upon which we base our work at OHO, because 'Health for All' is only possible in a world that works for all. We are proud to be a part of what Ford Foundation president Darren Walker calls “an entire generation of social-justice leaders around the world." You can be a part of it too.
- See the work of epidemiologists Kate Pickett and Richard G. Wilkinson: http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/resources/the-spirit-level