Brave Movements Need Brave Funders for Social Justice
Germany / Freedom for Justice / 7 dec 2017
Activists and grassroots movements are essential catalysts for social change. Their tireless efforts to stand up against injustice and demand accountability have throughout history forced those in authority to take notice of societal problems. However these movements, despite their ability to spark a decisive change, are often seen as less than ideal causes for philanthropic funders who frequently opt for more risk-averse grantmaking decisions with outcomes that are easier to predict and measure. Activist-led movements then are often reliant solely on crowdfunding and their members pouring their energy and time into the cause without much material support and resources. One foundation, amid an emerging group of progressive funders, is a little different; aiming to shake up the status quo for philanthropy and divert funding to bold campaigns & big picture activism.
The Guerrilla Foundation helps activists and grassroots movements who are tackling major issues and aiming to bring about systems change. Their grantmaking can give a movement the boost it needs to build capacity, develop skills and organise on a larger scale. They give grants to new projects twice a year and are funding eight new organisations this Autumn 2017 including: The Rules, New Economy Organisers Network, The Red Line Campaign and Gastivists. The movements they fund work across a diverse range of pressure points, however they horizontally embody the progressive values of equity, democracy as well as social and ecological wellbeing.
One of Guerrilla Foundations recent grantees is the Ministry of Space, a self-organised Serbian collective behind the ongoing grassroots campaign Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own. The Balkan activists have formed a broad and fast-growing movement, organising actions of mass civil disobedience & citizen awareness against corporate takeover of the city, privatisation of public spaces, and environmentally unsustainable urban projects. Similarly a Guerrilla grant allowed the Rights to Housing Caravan, an initiative of the Portuguese anti-gentrification collective Habita!, to travel across the country and spotlight that the right to adequate housing is a fundamental human right for the experience of all economic, social, political and cultural rights. Both of these organisations are members of yet another Guerrilla grantee, the European Action Coalition for the Right to Housing and to the City, which is a convergence network between movements from different cities of several European countries fighting for the respect of fundamental housing rights. This set of initiatives illustrates the Foundation’s prioritisation of grassroots collaboration across borders, of developing activist capacities that are useful in local movements without being blind to the transnational context of policy-making and higher level advocacy.
The Guerrilla Foundation ultimately envisions a world where there is little need for philanthropy because the affliction of inequality has been healed. The current state of affairs sees vast amounts of resources accumulated, ever increasingly, within the hands of a few. By providing funds for participatory models of grantmaking such as FundAction, as well as grassroots movements and activists the Guerrilla Foundation aims to shift philanthropy towards a more imaginative, risk-taking, bottom-up paradigm that more effectively responds to emergent societal needs.
The Guerrilla Foundation was a winner of the 2017 Nelson Mandela-Graça Machel Innovation Awards in the Brave Philanthropy category.