WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Many donors want to help solve long-standing challenges such as poverty, poor health outcomes and lack of quality education in many communities across the country. But history shows good intentions aren't enough.
The U.S. South is ground zero for many of the daunting challenges that philanthropists and grantmakers are trying to address. Donors who are serious about finding solutions will be more successful if they invest in sustained local economic development in the region.
Change requires focus on wealth-building
"As the South Grows: Strong Roots," a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP; www.ncrp.org) and Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP; www.nfg.org/gsp), explores why it's important for donors to build lasting wealth among the South's marginalized populations.
It features six community leaders from the South who are working to revitalize local economies in ways that are inclusive and equitable for local residents in Kentucky Coal Country and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
"With increased philanthropic engagement to capitalize on assets that already exist and build assets where they are needed, Southern communities can successfully transition to new economies built around equity and inclusion," report authors Ryan Schlegel and Stephanie Peng write.
Untapped potential for donors
Grantmakers' investments in the South can be transformative if they support community-controlled economic development that builds locally grown and owned wealth, while also protecting the regions' culture and heritage.
However, these regions receive just $43 per capita from foundations and other grantmakers, compared to the U.S. average of $451 per capita.
"Many philanthropists choose not to invest in Southern communities or choose short-term opportunities that undermine the long-term capacity of Southern nonprofits," wrote LaTosha Brown, project director of GSP, and Aaron Dorfman, president and CEO of NCRP, in the foreword to the As the South Grows series. "Other funders invest in what they think is 'safer' direct service work. While aid to those in need is undoubtedly critical, only investments in systemic change can achieve widespread, deep impact in the region."
Four tips for donors
Schlegel and Peng interviewed dozens of community leaders, nonprofits and grantmakers about their experiences with philanthropy in the South.
As a result of these conversations, they developed four key recommendations for donors who are ready to invest in wealth-building in the region:
- Learn about the harm done to Southern communities and how Southerners have been excluded and exploited.
- Adopt a positive narrative focused on the connections between the South, the national economy and a prosperous future.
- Explore how inclusive economic development in Southern communities can have lasting change.
- Commit to long-term, flexible investments of capital, time and capacity.
"Our new national reality of unified, reactionary, anti-democratic government has been a reality for Southerners off and on for more than a generation," according to Brown and Dorfman. "Therefore, national and non-Southern organizations have much to learn from their Southern counterparts."
The South is an untapped opportunity for donors who want to touch lives, strengthen communities and leave a positive and lasting mark with their giving.
"As the South Grows: Strong Roots" offers practical tips and resources, including a list of Do's and Don'ts, that will help grantmakers and donors do just that. The report, as well as the first in the series, "As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil," is available on www.ncrp.org. The third report will be released in the fall.
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy amplifies the voice of nonprofits and the communities they serve in the philanthropic sector. Through research and advocacy, it works to ensure that grantmakers and donors contribute to the creation of a fair, just and equitable world.
Grantmakers for Southern Progress is a network of southern and national funders who are committed to fostering thriving communities in the American South, characterized in part by racial and gender equity.
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SOURCE National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy