Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities

Resource type: News

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

In the face of the nation’s worst financial crisis since 1932, foundations are bracing to cope with assets that plunged as a result of Wall Street’s decline.  New numbers from New Mexico suggest that foundations should turn to the underutilised strategy of supporting advocacy, organising and civic engagement to be more effective at addressing social issues, during times of recession or prosperity.  This National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy report documents how local and state organisations leveraged foundation resources to secure billions of dollars in benefits for New Mexicans.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — As the nation’s worst financial crisis since 1932 continues to expand, foundations are bracing to cope with assets that took the plunge along with Wall Street.

New numbers from New Mexico suggest that foundations should turn to the underutilized strategy of supporting advocacy, organizing and civic engagement to be more effective at addressing social issues, recession or no recession.

According to a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), for every dollar invested in the 14 advocacy and organizing groups studied, New Mexico’s residents reaped more than $157 in benefits. That’s a total of more than $2.6 billion of benefits to the broader public as a result of the $16.6 million of support from foundations and other sources that went to these nonprofits to support their advocacy efforts.

“This is true strategic grantmaking that gives foundations a real bang for their buck,” said Aaron Dorfman, executive director of NCRP. “By supporting advocacy, organizing and civic engagement, foundations have touched the lives of numerous individuals and communities now and for many years to come.”

The report “Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities” by Lisa Ranghelli documents how New Mexico’s overall economy has benefited from policy changes advocated for by 14 local nonprofits from 2003-2007. The issues tackled by these organizations include civil and human rights, environmental justice, education, health and economic security, such as living wages.

“By providing financial support to those advocacy nonprofits involved in the effort to increase our state’s minimum wage, foundations went beyond using a Band Aid to address poverty in New Mexico,” said Terry Odendahl, president of the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers (NMAG), a partner in the study. “They realize how policy change is critical in addressing social problems.”

Ranghelli also found that for every new dollar in state Medicaid funds results in $4.74 of business activity, benefiting all state residents and not just those who rely on Medicaid.

“The economic security of thousands of lower-income families has increased as a result of advocacy and organizing efforts,” said Ranghelli, senior researcher at NCRP.

The 14 New Mexico nonprofits that participated in the study included Albuquerque Interfaith, Community Action New Mexico, Colonias Development Council, Enlace Comunitario/El Centro de Igualidad y Derechos, New Mexico Acequia Association, New Mexico ACORN, New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, New Mexico Environmental Law Center, New Mexico Voices for Children, Sacred Alliance for Grassroots Equality Council, Santa Fe Living Wage Network, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Southwest Organizing Project and Tewa Women United.

Some of the New Mexico-based foundations that have provided support for the groups featured in the report include the Brindle Foundation, Con Alma Health Foundation, Frost Foundation, McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Community Foundation, New Mexico Women’s Foundation, and the Santa Fe Community Foundation.

A number of large and small national funders also invest in advocacy and organizing in the state, such as The Atlantic Philanthropies, Marguerite E. Casey Foundation, the McKay Fund, Needmor Fund, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities” can be downloaded for free at http://www.ncrp.org/publications. Hard copies are also available.

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is a national watchdog, research and advocacy organization that promotes philanthropy that serves the public good, is responsive to people and communities with the least wealth and opportunity, and is held accountable to the highest standards of integrity and openness. Visit http://www.ncrp.org/.

The New Mexico Association of Grantmakers (NMAG) is a regional association of grantmakers dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and impact of organized philanthropy in New Mexico. Visit http://www.nmag.org/.

SOURCE National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

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