Apr 23, 2019
In episode 48 we talk to Megan Ming Francis, Associate Professor
in the Department of Political Science at the University of
Washington, about her recent paper “The Price of Civil Rights:
Black Lives, White Funding and Movement Capture” and her wider work
on the role of philanthropic funders in supporting the civil rights
- Is “movement capture” something that reflects a deliberate
desire on the part of funders to change the goals or strategic
focus of grantees, or is it just an inevitable consequence of the
power imbalance in the funder/recipient dynamic?
- Does the legitimacy that funders are able to offer to radical
causes add to the power imbalance?
- Is the imbalance between funder and grantee particularly
striking in the case of the NAACP in the early C20th, given the
racial division and the background context of Jim Crow?
- Can grantees be “victims of their own success” if they make
headway on radical causes using novel techniques (as the NAACP did
on the issues lynching using legal challenges), and funders want to
replicate that success on other causes?
- Is funder ego (i.e. funders wanting to see themselves as
“having the answers”) a barrier to getting genuine shifts of power
from funders to grantees?
- Does a spend-down strategy for a foundation impose time
constraints that can drive foundation staff to demand a greater
degree of say over how money is used?
- How much of movement capture is due to the overt influence of
funders and how much s due to grantees tailoring applications or
plans based on their perception of funders’ priorities and
- Where else in the history of philanthropy should we look for
other examples of movement capture?
- Informal networks and movements are less likely to keep
archives or records than institutional funders: is there a danger
that this asymmetry will make it harder to assess other instances
of movement capture?
- In a modern context where there is an increasing emphasis on
networked social movements to drive change, and interest from
funders in how to support them, do we need to be particularly aware
of the dangers of movement capture?
- Are looser, non-hierarchical network-based organisations more
likely to be susceptible to movement capture than those with some
modicum of structure?
- What value can a historical perspective bring to
philanthropists, funders and non-profit professionals?
- Are there limits to the utility of historical comparison in
understanding the present? What should we take into account or be