Our friends at the Quixote Foundation have been spending time thinking about the Occupy Movement and what it means for foundations and the work that we do. Below, an excerpt:
What do foundations have in common with the 1%? We’re organizations, not individuals, it’s true; but our raison d’être is using untaxed wealth to carry out the wishes of its “former owners.” As long as we stick to a few regulations, only the founders or their heirs and appointees can have a say in what we do. If this tax break can pay for itself by channeling riches into the public good, why is there no equivalent deduction for ordinary folks who make nonprofit gifts, unless they have sufficient income or assets to itemize? Why are foundations allowed to hold $672 billion in assets—often invested in companies that help create the problems our programs try to solve—while spending as little as 5% per year no matter how well our portfolios have performed?
The Quixote Foundation has nine suggestions on how we can support the movement, besides spending beyond the 5% (what Quixote calls “spending up”). Here are a few examples – but click here to read the complete article.
- Support organizations that help the Occupy movement. The National Lawyers Guild links demonstrators with free emergency legal help. Ruckus Societyprovides training. The Funders Committee for Civic Participation can connect grantmakers with nonprofits helping in many ways, including sustained action on issues like corporate political power; and Resource Generation works with both individuals and foundations to generate social change.
- Support those who make the movement visible when big media looks the other way. Mother Jones covers Occupy demonstrations and gives practical information for engaging through events like Bank Transfer Day. Resources like the Center for Media Justice and MAG-NET ensure we can hear stories not covered by corporate news. Media Democracy Fund contributes money, strategy, and connection for the work these groups do.
- Align our investments with our missions. Renewal is exceptionally smart about activating whole portfolios for social benefit, and PRI Makers Network fills in the how-tos.