Jun 29, 2021
In this episode we're joined by Lori Bezahler, President of the
Edward W. Hazen Foundation, to discuss the role of philanthropy in
supporting racial justice and funding grassroots organizing or
social movements. Including:
- Is racial injustice such a big/cross-cutting issues that it
should not be seen as a cause area, but rather as something that is
the responsibility of ALL philanthropic funders and
- What does this mean in practice re racial justice issues? (E.g.
supporting more grantees led by BIPOC leaders, promoting more BIPOC
employees into positions of authority within foundations,
acknowledging where philanthropic assets have been created in ways
that exacerbated racial injustice, paying reparations etc?)
- Should we be optimistic that the current recognition of the
need to apply a racial justice lens across philanthropy will be
The “Movement Moment”
- Is the current enthusiasm for social movements reflective of a
frustration people have that traditional nonprofits have failed to
move the needle on issues such as the climate crisis or racial
- Is the fact that participation is inherent to the approach of
social movements part of their appeal, as it gives people a greater
sense of agency over problems that can seem insurmountable?
- Are traditional nonprofits and funders too often a reflection
of existing systems and power structures to push for the kind of
radical solutions we need to deal with huge global, structural
- Does the ability of social movements to be more overtly
political, or to employ more challenging tactics (e.g. protest,
direct action), give them an advantage over civil society
organisations (CSOs) that might be more constrained by
- Can movements that have grown to huge scale very quickly find
that they are lacking some of the elements of organisations
infrastructure that they might need if they are to be sustainable
over the longer-term? If so, can traditional CSOs and nonprofits
work with them to provide some of that infrastructure? Does this
happen in practice?
- How can a funder determine where best to allocate their
resources in order to support a movement most effectively?
- How big a risk is there that foundations and other funders
co-opt social movements by deliberately introducing grant
stipulations etc. aimed to direct the focus of the movement away
from controversial areas or soften their tactics?
- Can funding from donors/foundations confer legitimacy on
movements as well as financial resources? Is this useful for the
- Can funders use their power positively on behalf of the
movements they fund?
- Why is core-cost and multi-year funding so important when
supporting movements? Are we seeing more funders recognise this and
adapt the way they fund?
- The Hazen Foundation took the bold decision in 2019 to spend
down its remaining endowment over 5 years. What was the rationale
for doing this at this point, after nearly 100 years of
- What is the foundation aiming to fund over the coming years to
ensure the foundation leaves a strong legacy?
- Should more foundations should consider spending down?
Mission Related Investment
- Why did the Hazen Foundation decide to take a fully
mission-related investment approach? What does this mean in
- Does this involve going beyond screening to look for active
opportunities to invest in activities that further the foundation’s
- How are trade-offs between financial return and social impact