GRANTMAKERS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZING
There are many reasons why funders have been hesitant to
fund organizing efforts. …[But] organizing is fundamentally
about relationship building, and an intersection of the
values of community and the interest of individuals.
Organizing is about community building and is a process
that helps ensure our democratic values and citizenship.
Organizing efforts can cut across our diverse society,
connecting interests, issues and basic objectives to build
community. Organizing also involves the development of
leaders and community bridge builders, who should be of
special importance to funders. After all, one goal of
philanthropy is to build bridges between people to solve
problems. Many foundations have retreated from funding
organizing, both because of myths and from real
experiences. The myths need to be busted and real issues
need to be discussed. Foundations need to understand
when and why different organizing models work.
Organizing needs to be placed within the context of
community building. Where does it fit? How does it
compare with other techniques and strategies, advocacy,
economic development and systems change?49
— San Francisco Foundation – Forum on Organizing
ISSUES TO CONSIDER AT THE START
This section of the Toolbox addresses a number of key issues that grantmakers may
want to address before initiating, strengthening or expanding a CO grantmaking program.
• What are the most important reasons an increasing number of grantmakers are prioritiz-
ing CO? Why has a core group of funders made commitments to supporting CO over a
long period of time?
Grantmaking and Community Organizing ■ The Community Organizing Toolbox
• How do funders determine what efforts and organiza-
tions within the CO field best fit with their grantmak-
• What do funders think about CO’s impact?
• How do CO’s results compare with those of other
programs or initiatives in grantmaking portfolios?