COMM-ORG Papers 2005


Promising Practices in Revenue
Generation for Community Organizing:

An Exploration of Current and Emerging Fundraising and Grantmaking Practices in Community Organizing

by Sandy O'Donnell, PhD, Jane Beckett, and Jean Rudd

A project of the Center for Community Change
Washington, DC

October 2005




     Purpose of This Report
     Research Questions and Methodology
     Definitions and Terms
Section One: How Organizing is Funded by Sandy O'Donnell, Ph.D.
     The available research on patterns of organizing funding
     Contemporary quantitative data: the national CCHD grantee database
Section Two: Improving How Organizing Raises Funds by Jane Beckett
     Revenue Sources: Practices and Perceptions
     Strengthening Organizing Fundraising Capacity
Section Three: Enhancing Grantmaking for Organizing by Jean Rudd
     A picture of grantmaker support for organizing from a national database of organizing nonprofits
     The roles of foundations and institutional grantmakers supporting organizing
     Promising strategies to increase funder investments in organizing
     The importance of effective communications in increasing grantmaker (and other donor) support of organizing
Longer Term Challenges and Opportunities Toward Increasing Revenue for Organizing

Appendix I: How One Foundation Came to Support Community Organizing by Jean Rudd
Appendix II: A Framework for Assessing the Strengths and Limitations of Different Revenue Sources for Community Organizing
Appendix III: Methodology
Appendix IV: Instrumentation
Appendix V: Study participants
Appendix VI: Generating Revenue for Community Organizing: An Annotated Bibliography

About the Authors


"How do we grow or even stabilize when we've topped out our dues income and have to do more and more to keep the level of foundation support we have?"

"Are there any organizing groups that are building endowments, or even cash reserves?"

"How can organizing tap into the energy and wealth of the 527s [1], which raised hundreds of millions of dollars for progressive candidates in the 2004 general election?"

This report began with questions like these and led us, through data analysis and over 100 interviews, to some findings that we hope will be useful in strengthening organizing's funding base and fundraising practices. Among these findings:

  • The budgets of community organizing groups are, on the whole, flat and not keeping up with inflation.
  • Foundations are an evermore important source of organizing budgets, despite considerable fear in the field that such external funding can undermine organizing strength and autonomy.
  • At the same time, there are dozens of examples of high performing organizer-fundraisers, whose work we describe; the single most important factor in their success is that they see fundraising as organizing.
  • And also at the same time, more and more members of the foundation community are wrestling creatively with the question of how to increase foundation support of organizing without undermining local ownership, and are creating intermediaries and collaboratives and drawing more peers into the field.
  • And yet, serious challenges remain, particularly with respect to appealing to individual donors of all incomes, to communicating excitement and results, and to building a culture that pays much more attention to fundraising.

The sole purpose of this report is to strengthen the revenue base of community organizing. It is authored by a team with 75+ years of experience in funding, fundraising for, and conducting research for community organizing.

The authors thank the 100+ organizers, funders, and other friends of organizing who informed this report. We also thank the Center for Community Change for sponsoring the project, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago for providing funding support. Special thanks to the National Catholic Campaign for Human Development and its grantees for making data available to us.

Section One: How Organizing is Funded, by Sandy O'Donnell, Ph.D.

This section summarizes recent research on funding patterns of community organizing and describes and analyzes how organizing groups recently funded by the national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) raise revenue. While CCHD grantees are not completely representative of community organizing, this was the only nationwide data base that the authors could access within a reasonable budget. The "average" organization in our sample was 8 years old, affiliated with a network, staffed by an Executive Director and 2 other staff, multi ethnic in its membership, multi issues and local in its focus, and with individual members. Findings about their revenue bases:

1. Organizing nonprofits do raise revenue from diverse sources. In our sample of 213 organizations supplying data about revenue sources (23 of the 240 did not), 206 had income from grants, 146 from dues, 124 from individuals, 77 from earned income ventures such as service fees, 66 from corporate and union donations, 62 from unspecified grassroots fundraising, 47 from events, 12 from workplace giving, and 10 from their network. 80 had other unspecified sources of revenue. The breakout of various revenue sources:

Sources of Income for Organizing

2. Overall revenue is quite modest. The mean (arithmetic average) revenue budget in 2002 sampled organizations was $207,686; the median (50th percentile), $133,560.

3. Grants are the largest single source of organizing revenue, comprising 62.7% of the sample organizations' budgets.

4. There is great variation within the field in the relative importance of membership dues to the overall revenue budget. Dues supplied 10% of the overall budgets of organizations in our sample. Surprisingly, nearly 1/3 of groups in our sample reported no dues income. Correlates of robust dues income: institutional (as contrasted with individual) membership structures, affiliation with a network.

Among the other sources of income examined:

  • Over half of organizing nonprofits raised income from individuals in 2002; of organizations that did raise funds from individuals, they supplied 11.6% of revenue.
  • One third of organizing groups sought some kind of earned income in 2002; for those who did, it comprised 15.1% of revenues.
  • Corporate giving to organizing was extremely modest, accounting for but 3.2% of revenue of the "average" organization in our sample.
  • Few sample organizations host events, making events a relatively insignificant income source overall. Of the 217 organizations providing detailed income data, only 37 raised income from events, ranging from $150 to $52,000.
  • Few sample organizations seek government grants (43 of 217), but, for those who do, government is a significant source of revenue, comprising a significant 28.0% of the revenue bases of those who won government grants.
  • Workplace giving is not a significant source of support for organizing.

Our analysis of these data finds that:

  1. The revenue budgets of organizing organizations are so modest that it appears that community organizing organizations on the whole are not keeping up with increases in the cost of doing business, let alone growing.
  2. We find grants a significant - and an apparently increasing -- source of organizing income, but not the very great over-reliance found or suggested by recent research.
  3. Organizing organizations raise a significant share of their funds - 29% -- internally.
  4. Organizations that budget for fundraising staff had larger overall budgets, with the difference largely in foundation grants.
  5. Organizations neither became more nor less reliant on grants income as they grew and aged.
  6. Organizing is doing a great job of securing foundation support but has significant opportunities and challenges to improve its individual donations and planned giving (bequests, charitable annuities, etc.) programs.

Section Two: How Organizing Raises Funds, by Jane Beckett

This section summarizes and analyses interviews with 34 organizers nominated by their peers to be especially effective as fundraisers and organizers, supplemented by interviews with 24 additional organizers plus a number of organizing observers. Ms. Beckett draws on her own organizing experiences as staff, leader, and member in framing her analysis.

Organizers' Experiences and Perspectives on the Different Organizing Revenue Streams

Foundation grants

Virtually all of those we interviewed agreed that foundation funding lacks the autonomy and the reliability that internal fundraising provides. Yet most of the organizers we interviewed perceive foundation grants as money that can be gotten in a short time, in large amounts, and that can attract other foundation funding. One network with a particularly effective foundation strategy is the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations, in which its affiliates have decided - with success -- to pool their knowledge, practices, and even their relationships with foundations.

Corporate income

Corporate income particularly "works" for organizing when the asking is done by leaders and when the transaction is framed as an investment rather than as charity. One particularly effective strategy is that of gaining the support of members of the financial services industry, framing that support in terms of the long term interests of both the investor and the community organization.

Government grants and contracts

While many community organizing groups approach government funding warily, if at all, some are finding ways that they believe make government funding work to build their organizing. One "promising practice" is engaging the organization in providing a public service, for a fee provided for by government that a) builds the organization and b) generates revenue for the organization. Our full report notes the government funded organizing work of Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), Texas Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), and Metropolitan Organizing Strategy for Enabling Strength (MOSES.)


Dues, both individual and institutional, are in theory the best long-term basis for financial stability for community organizing groups, and they represent the highest possible degree of ownership by the members of the organization. Creative ideas in dues collection: generating healthy competition among institutional members (MOSES and Kansas City Congregational Community Organization), involving Board members in new membership recruitment and retention (Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement), collecting and renewing membership dues electronically (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN).


Long a staple of community organizations' repertoire of fundraising techniques, special events raise money, engage members, and build visibility. The downside: they are labor intensive. Reliable formats include: annual dinners that raise funds from the community, bringing members together and showcasing the organization to non-members; festivals that attract fees and donations from an entire metro area, such as Pilsen Neighbors' Fiesta Del Sol (Chicago) and Kansas City Congregational Community Organization's Soul of the City Jazz Concert.

Individual and local business donors

Fundraising for income from donations was most frequently mentioned as promising in terms of growth potential, by a wide margin. For good reason: this is "where the money is" in the charitable giving universe. The most important principle in increasing individual giving is to build relationships - in this case, with prospective donors, involving Board members and other leaders in the process. Another critically important practice: develop and nurture a "culture of asking" throughout the organization.

Earned income

Some examples: providing government procured services that work to recruit new members and leaders, such as ACORN enrolling families in KidCare; providing fee-based services to members, such as Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste making available low cost legal services to members; or selling training and outreach expertise.

Other income sources

These sources of income were seldom pursued by interviewees, but were never-the-less seen as sources with unrealized potential to support organizing: on line giving; workplace fundraising, particularly alternatives to the United Way; and planned giving programs. These sources of income were also seldom pursued, but not seen to have much potential to support organizing: capital campaigns; endowments; wealthy individuals who work through investment advisors; cause-related marketing or social ventures; linked development agreements; class action litigation; canvassing; and direct mail involving large rented or purchased databases.

Strengthening Organizing Fundraising Capacity

One of the most common themes of this study is that the organizing field pays far more attention to "organized people" than to "organized money." But we also learned that this state of affairs is changing: we found a high degree of interest in and commitment to integrating organizing and fundraising so that they strengthen each other instead of competing with each other.

Organizers and organizing observers perceive the following to be the major barriers to increased fundraising effectiveness: attitudinal and expectations barriers - the mindset that fundraising is an unpleasant diversion, not part of organizing or organization building; resource constraints, particularly demands on the time of the Director; and technical constraints, particularly fundraising skills and technology. Approaches that effectively transcend these barriers:

1. Recognizing that fundraising is organizing, create high expectations and high accountability for building diverse revenue bases, particularly from internal sources

  • Successful organizer-fundraisers build fundraising expectations into the organization from its founding. They use fund development as a "place of leadership development and growth."
  • They connect organizing and fundraising goals, involving leaders in membership recruitment and renewal, donor visits, events. They say: "fundraising is organizing."
  • Some major networks have created clear incentives, expectations, and supports for organizers to raise internal funds.

2. Commit Time: Make time for fundraising and take a long-term perspective on building a diverse revenue base

  • Successful organizer-fundraisers develop and use multi-year plans.
  • Several networks set guidelines for their affiliates' staff and leader time devoted to fundraising.

3. Add Staff Skills

  • One network, PICO National Network, encourages affiliates to add a "Fund Developer" to their staffs.
  • Other promising practices: designating someone on staff who is the technology manager, building the skills and protecting the time of existing staff, increasing fundraising budgets.

4. Involve leadership

  • "Leaders pledge first." Successful organizer-fundraisers make sure that the leadership of the organization sets the standard of financial commitment to the organization.
  • Organizers and funders alike emphasized the importance of involving leaders in planning for and conducting meetings with individual, corporate, and foundation funders and donors.

5. Use modern technology to recruit, track, and follow up with members and donors

  • We found (and describe) many examples of: investment in websites to raise the organization's profile; network-supported relational databases to improve contact with and track members and donors; dues and donations collection by electronic funds transfer; resources specifically created to help social justice organizations use technology effectively.

6. Intensify and re-think training

  • We catalogue and describe the varied training opportunities (both network-based and independent) that are available to the field.
  • Major suggestions of respondents to increase fundraising training effectiveness:
    • Provide extended training - not isolated workshops - that include several people in the organization, provide plentiful opportunities for peer learning, and enable participants to convene repeatedly and receive follow-up support.
    • The best training does not initially focus on specific techniques; it rather encourages the organization to integrate fundraising into its organizing, tying fundraising to organizing expectations and even agitation.

7. Don't forget about external sources of revenue: pursue foundation and government grants effectively, recognizing their importance in supplementing internally raised funds and in building organizing effectiveness.

  • Effective organizer-fundraisers see grantseeking as an opportunity to build relationships of benefit to the organization, sharpen their communications skills, and involve leaders.

Section Three: Grantmaking for Organizing, by Jean Rudd

A Picture of Grantmaker Support from a National Database

Information provided by 158 CCHD grantee organizations on grants received for the years FY 2000-FY 2002 produced a database of 601 funders who granted, collectively, $53,497,139 to the organizations during that period. The largest grantmaker by far was the CCHD, investing $8.49M; the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation, Public Welfare Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and the Veatch Program of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock provided over $1M in grants to reporting organizations.

Our database suggests that significant new investors have been drawn into organizing via increased persuasion and/or awareness within the grantmaking field that organizing is an effective strategy to achieve their goals. The database also suggests the growing importance of intermediaries in funding organizing. Nevertheless, the overall foundation and institutional grantmaker investment in community organizing remains quite small, reinforcing our conclusion that fears of over-reliance on foundation grants should be a secondary concern to that of the overall modest investment in community organizing.

Roles grants play in organizing's overall revenue mix

Why grantmakers invest in organizing

Grantmakers may fund organizing because they value organizing intrinsically, or because they find organizing an effective means to an end in which they have interest. The full report lists several "cases" for funding organizing, such as building democracy and achieving systemic improvements in the quality of community life.

How grantmakers invest in organizing: what their funding underwrites

Foundations provide grant support for organizing in one or more of three different ways:

  • Core operational support.
  • Targeted (or restricted) support for special projects, for work on specific issues or campaigns, or for expansion. We note the issues that are currently of interest to foundations.
  • "Capacity building," support to build community organizing groups' abilities to grow and thrive as nonprofit organizations.

Locating the appropriate role for foundations to play in supporting organizing: the seeming paradox of increasing grant support for organizing without reducing incentives for local support.

Universally, advocates of community organizing would like to see increased support for the field of organizing, including from foundations and other institutional grantmakers. But how should grantmakers direct funding to community organizing in ways that do not foster over-reliance of organizations on foundation grants? Our study respondents strike no consensus on the "appropriate" role of foundations - how funding is directed -- nor the desirable proportion of funding they should provide. But there is concern about dependence on foundation donors, which Sue Chinn, formerly Executive Director of the Discount Foundation and now Chief of Staff and Associate Director of the Center for Community Change, sums up:

      Groups are overly-dependent on outside sources of funding and have a long way to go to develop an individual membership base. They won't grow in influence until they grow in membership. If you are going to prioritize fundraising, that would be it . . . There's a whole lot we all should be doing to develop alternative sources of funding.

Funding that builds organizing: effective funder practices.

Organizers and organizing observers we talked with appreciate the funds that grantmakers provide, the expertise and support of program officers, and the opportunities grantseeking provides for leadership involvement. Major criticisms include restricted grants programs, limited understanding and/or valuing of organizing, and frequently shifting funding priorities.

The overall recommendation: "let organizing be organizing." Beyond this general recommendation, our respondents did not fully agree how funders can best support organizing: we hope this report inspires much more dialogue about this topic. Respondents' recommendations:

  1. Increase general operating support and make multi-year commitments, thereby decreasing the potential for foundations to control or alter the organization's agenda.
  2. Combine general, core support with funds to increase internal revenue sources through matching/challenge grants and/or funds to underwrite acquiring new skills.
  3. Or limit foundation grants to special purposes, initiatives, or expansion, thereby encouraging more diverse revenue sources.
  4. Make sure capacity building grants support effective adult learning processes - peer learning, reflection in action - rather the "one shot" workshops and forums.

Promising strategies toward increasing funder investments and effectiveness in organizing

This study uncovered wide commentary and anecdotal evidence suggesting that more foundations are supporting community organizing and that those funders are diverse. Strategies that have already helped or hold promise in helping increase funder investment and effectiveness in organizing:

1. Funder collaboratives

Funder collaboratives are not new but their support of organizing seems to be growing. Some funder collaboratives of organizing seek to draw attention to the promise of organizing itself, some to build skills and effectiveness of organizing, and some, to advance a particular topic, issue area or constituency group. According to Anne Hallett, formerly Executive Director of Wieboldt Foundation and recently examining funder collaboratives in the school organizing field, funder collaboratives can: draw new money into a particular field, increase capacity and impact in a field, and build funder knowledge and support. The full report lists a number of funder collaboratives supporting organizing today.

2. Peer awareness building

Many interviewees stressed that peer relationships (between program officers from different foundations and between the different levels of leadership within a foundation) are key in spreading openness to funding community organizing. Willingness is not spread by reading arguments about community organizing, but by being taken to see it in action, they said. We provide as a case example the story of how the Woods Fund of Chicago became a focused funder of community organizing.

Several people commented on the role of the national foundation "affinity groups" of like-minded funders, in promoting awareness of organizing as an effective funding strategy and opportunity. National Network of Grantmakers, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Environmental Grantmakers, Funders Network for Smart Growth and particularly Neighborhood Funders Group (or NFG, the group that published and distributed the "Community Organizing Toolbox") were those most frequently cited.

3. Supporting organizing through intermediaries

The CCHD database of grantmakers finds two intermediaries among the top grantmakers to organizing. The Ford Foundation's Community Organizing Initiative is one example of this strategy: the Initiative found or created local intermediaries responsible for raising additional funds for the initiative locally, for addressing capacity building needs articulated by organizing groups, and for re-granting dollars to local organizations. The Charles Stewart Mott foundation pioneered the intermediary strategy in 1979 by designating seven already-existing organizing support organizations as Intermediary Support Organizations (ISO). Still in existence, the ISO program provides funding both for small grants to emerging organizations being mentored by the Intermediaries, as well as for additional technical assistance and capacity building.

4. Looking to community foundations for increased support

Among our study participants, opinion is divided on how much potential lies in community foundations for expanded support of organizing. A prevailing view is that community foundations should be logical supporters of organizing, given their missions and their presumed responsibilities to the entire community. And yet, community foundations, according to many of our respondents, are "hard nuts to crack," focused more and more on satisfying major donors and prospective donors who are unaware of community organizing and more comfortable with traditional charitable endeavors.

5. Accessing the "new wealth," individual donors and less traditional structures for giving

How can community organizing tap into the enormous new wealth in our nation? Several of our respondents saw promise in new philanthropic structures being created to attract and pool new wealth. These include: "alternative" or community based funds such as Funding Exchange members that advise donors and raise funds from them; collectives of philanthropies under one roof, such as Common Counsel, that house and staff multiple family foundations; and for-profit and nonprofit "philanthropy advisors" that help donors, families and family foundations to develop philanthropic missions and programs, such as Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

Generally, our study respondents think that community organizing groups should approach financial and legal advisors through philanthropic intermediaries rather than directly, although philanthropy advisor Betsy Brill, Founder and President of Strategic Philanthropy, encouraged organizing to find connections to wealthy individuals via their Boards, members, etc. A few study participants are thinking about how to make energized donors in the 2004 election aware of community organizing as a foundation for an engaged citizenry. It is worth noting, however, that, within the realm of alternative and progressive funders and their advisors, the evidence suggests that "true" community organizing does not have a high profile: community organizing has to make a well documented, convincing case for its contributions and its relevance among these donors and potential donors.

How Organizing Can Help Funders Understand and Support Organizing: Toward Improved Communications on Organizing Purposes and Results

"Does organizing use effective communications to describe its work to foundations and corporations? Would different language or different proposals describing mission and outcomes change chances of support?" This research question in our study drew some of the strongest consensus among the funders, advisors, and observers of organizing that we interviewed. Put most simply by Robert M. Johnson, consultant and former Executive Director of Wieboldt Foundation: "Sure, we need to use different language. It's not 'selling out'. You have to appeal to the people you're communicating with."

Funders and other friends of organizing suggest the following to improve chances of communicating more effectively with foundation and corporate funders:

  1. Learn the funders' agendas and explore how to describe your work in ways that meet their needs.
  2. Leave the insider language and jargon behind. Choose language carefully so that funders beyond the "true believers" understand what your organizing is working toward, how it has been and plans to be effective on specific outcomes and policy issues.
  3. Incorporate values, leaders' stories, intended impacts, and strategies to reach them.
  4. Develop a real communications plan and skills to advance both the organizing and the fundraising agendas.

Longer Term Challenges to Increase Community Organizing Revenue

We conclude this report with a look at longer term and bigger picture issues raised by our respondents and/or suggested by the literature as described in the Annotated Bibliography.

Issues, opportunities, and challenges facing local organizing groups

For organizing whose mission is to increase democratic participation, opportunity, and power at the local level, our respondents have emphasized increased internal fundraising success by honing traditional methods - dues, donations, events, and local business drives. Their "promising practices" include, most importantly, creating a culture for fundraising in the organization that integrates organizing money with organizing people, focusing staff time and attention to fundraising, developing a longer term plan for organizing and for fundraising, increasing leadership involvement in fundraising, making technology a tool in fundraising, improving communications of their organization's impact, and so forth.

Several people we talked with saw new opportunities to strengthen local organizing fundraising: the shift in policy responsibility from federal to local or state levels; the very localized funding interests of some "new wealth" donors. William Schambra, Director, Hudson Institute's Bradley Center on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, sees important lessons in the growth of evangelical organizations, which have been particularly effective at both raising money and turning out voters.

Others saw challenges: increasing awareness that most seemingly local issues are rooted in broader policies requiring action from broard-based groups or coalitions, and the limitations small organizational size places on the development of diverse fundraising programs. These very challenges suggest great opportunity for intermediaries and organizing networks to create the economies of scale that would support more diverse revenue generation.

The revenue generation potential of broadening the reach and visibility of community organizing

Several experts we talked with believe that organizing must broaden its vision and scope of activity to achieve the kinds of improvements in local communities it seeks, and they also observe that such a broadened focus will open up new resources for organizing. Respondents such as Chuck Shuford, Greg Galluzzo and Deepak Bhargava see new revenue potential in statewide and national level alliances within organizing, between organizing and unions, and with progressive political groups to build organizing's power.

Building a culture within organizing that supports diverse revenue generation

Without exception, the organizers we interviewed who were nominated by their peers as effective revenue generators exemplify how to build a culture that is more supportive of fundraising: that these organizers are around and thriving hints that the larger cultural barriers to effective fundraising that have been endemic to the field may be eroding. We have described some promising practices in changing this culture, with a focus on strengthened expectations for fundraising, more and better training of organizers and leaders, conscientious use of technology, bringing in fundraising staff when overall revenues permit such specialization, and emerging efforts to expand organizing alliances and re-think strategies.

Toward more stable, more diverse funding bases for organizing

Perhaps, then, the key challenge is cyclical: community organizing groups need predictable, diverse revenue bases to attract and hold organizers committed for the long run, and they need organizers committed to the long run to build predictable, diverse revenue bases. All stakeholders in community organizing have critical opportunities to address this issue: foundations, in providing more core, long term support to enable and encourage talented organizers to build internal fundraising capacity; networks and intermediaries, in recruiting and training organizers and leaders who will be effective fundraisers; organizers and leaders, in transcending their natural fears and anxieties about building relationships with donors; and the entire field, in better communicating to emerging donor communities the importance of and the return on investments in community organizing.


"Why should I spend a day building my individual donations program which might produce a few $50 or $500 donors when I could spend that day writing a $50,000 foundation proposal?"

"How can organizing tap into the energy and wealth of the '527's [2], which raised hundreds of millions of dollars for progressive candidates in the 2004 general election?"

"Are there any organizing groups that are building endowments, or even cash reserves?"

"How do we grow or even stabilize when we've topped out our dues income and have to do more and more to keep the level of foundation support we have?"

"Is it unethical or counterproductive for us to accept grants or donations from government/corporations/wealthy individuals/foundations endowed by 'robber barons'?"

This report began with questions like these and led us, through data analysis and interviews, to some findings that we hope will be useful in strengthening organizing's funding base and fundraising practices. Among these findings:

  • The budgets of community organizing groups are, on the whole, flat and not keeping up with inflation.
  • Foundations are an evermore important source of organizing budgets, despite considerable fear in the field that such external funding can undermine organizing strength and autonomy.
  • At the same time, there are dozens of examples of high performing organizer-fundraisers, whose work we describe; the single most important factor in their success is that they see fundraising as organizing.
  • And also at the same time, more and more members of the foundation community are wrestling creatively with the question of how to increase foundation support of organizing without undermining local ownership, and are creating intermediaries and collaboratives and drawing more peers into the field.
  • And yet, serious challenges remain, particularly with respect to appealing to individual of all incomes, to communicating excitement and results, and to building a culture that pays much more attention to fundraising.

Purpose of this report

The sole purpose of this report is to strengthen the revenue base of community organizing. The report does not question the importance, effectiveness, or impact of community organizing: we take as a starting point that organizing is indeed important, effective, and results-producing. Beyond this "bias," however, we wish to underline that we are not offering the research team's viewpoints and judgments: what we present is what we see from the data and heard from the field.

We have tried to make the report readable and useful for evermore-stretched organizers, as well as to provide some admittedly dense narrative for those who wish to pursue problems and opportunities of organizing funding and fundraising in more depth.

Research questions and methodology

  1. How are community organizing groups presently funded? How, and to what extent, do sources such as government funds, earned income, social ventures, and the Internet diversify the usual mix of foundation grants, membership fees, and grassroots fundraising revenues?
  2. What is organizing's assessment of each of its major revenue sources with respect to:
    • Strengths and weaknesses in building its organization for the long run?
    • Reliability? Flexibility? Growth potential?
    • Adherence to organizing principles and values?
    • Potential for ethical conflict with organizing issues?
    • Administrative efficiency?
    • Real and perceived strings?
  3. To what extent could membership and dues income, grassroots fundraising, and other non-foundation revenue sources be better developed if organizers had stronger fundraising capacity?
    • How do organizers presently learn to raise revenue?
    • How do they keep up with emerging developments in nonprofit fundraising?
    • How helpful do they find intermediaries, professional networks, and special fundraising workshops, courses or institutes?
    • Whose job is fundraising? How would staffing strategies have to change to build fundraising capacity?
  4. What is the role of foundation support in organizing? Has this role changed over recent time? Can organizing expand its foundation and corporate support through more effective fundraising and communications practices? How?
  5. Are there any long-term trends that affect - negatively and/or positively -- organizing's ability to raise funds? What is organizing doing to overcome or take advantage of these trends? The data presented to answer these questions are based on the following methodology (a more detailed statement of methodology is found in Appendix II).
    • A review of the research and practice literature (Appendix II).
    • Financial information provided to National Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) by 240 community organizations, the universe of 2002 CCHD grantees who met our definition of "community organizing".
    • Interviews with 55 organizing "expert observers" nominated by their peers, with the sample built "snowball" ("who else should I talk with?") fashion. These experts include organizers, former organizers who are now staff of networks, funding bodies, or intermediaries; funders; researchers; technology experts; and fundraisers.
    • Interviews with 38 organizers nominated by their peers as effective fundraisers or nominated by our team based on Form 990 or CCHD data.
    • Two groups of organizers - one that served as our Advisory Committee and one that reflected on barriers and opportunities in fundraising as part of a capacity building process.

Our report is organized along the lines of our research questions and focuses on what these numbers and interviews tell us. In a few instances, we add our own analytic perspective, one informed by our collective 75+ years of doing, funding, or observing organizing, but we make clear when we insert that perspective.

Definitions of terms

Community organizing: We believe the following definition well captures what community organizing is about:

"Community organizing is the process of building an increasingly broadly based, democratic organization rooted in a low- to moderate-income community. Over time the goal is to build a large, well-disciplined organization with the membership, leadership, knowledge, vision, power, and capacity to strengthen their neighborhood's social and economic fabric and make increasingly significant gains on vital issues. This requires a continuing process of actively reaching out, involving larger numbers of people, surfacing leaders and giving them training, increasing responsibility and authority, and helping them move into effective action on the issues that most concern them. The ultimate goal of community organizing is to transform the conditions that currently restrict opportunities for people who are too often left behind." [3]

Key to this study is the idea that community organizing involves the creation and maintenance of formal organizations. We thus exclude from our definition organizing "projects" of organizations whose primary mission is something other than organizing, ad hoc campaigns, and highly informal groups. We include the variety of communities (place-based, issues or interest based, ethnic group based), structures, and organizing traditions (Alinsky-inspired, popular education, Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), Civil Rights and Welfare Rights movement-inspired, etc.) that embrace building formal organizations.

Community organization: An organization that does community organizing. Key definitional characteristics of a community organization:

  • Is focused on social change and empowering people who, with a unified voice, can more effectively influence decisions affecting them.
  • Is accountable to a low and moderate income membership, which actively chooses the issues to be addressed and participates in devising strategies to address them.
  • Is led by people democratically elected by and from among this membership; leadership is usually supported by trained professional organizers and other staff.
  • Achieves change by bringing the organization's numbers and expertise to bear to influence public policy or institutional or corporate behavior that affect the community.
  • Builds power (defined as "the ability to act") by developing the knowledge and skills of its volunteer leaders; and by recruiting and educating a large base; then by using strategies to achieve change including education, , negotiation, collaboration, and confrontation. As in all aspects of public life, the willingness to be demanding is essential, even if it is rarely used.
  • Uses skills such as strategic and policy research, developing proposals and policy recommendations to address community concerns, outreach and education, creating intra-community networks, forming partnerships and coalitions, and negotiating with other actors in public life, in order to have an impact on its community and/or on public policy.

Grassroots fundraising: Funds raised within an organization's community and/or membership. Dues, special events, canvassing and other direct appeals, ad books, local business campaigns are examples.

Internally raised funds: We expanded the traditional definition of grassroots fundraising to include interest income, program fees, and earned income from the sales of goods, services or assets. Examples would include leadership trainings, fees charged from workshops, the sales of training manuals or other publications. We recognize that many would consider such sources "grassroots income"; we use the term "internally raised funds" because so many organizations in our dataset list them as sources of income beyond grassroots income.

Section One: How Organizing is Funded, by Sandy O'Donnell, Ph.D.


Most organizing networks, intermediaries, and experts teach that core organizing budgets should be raised within the community - through dues, events, direct appeals, ad books, and so forth. [4] The scant research that exists on organizing funding suggests, nevertheless, that, while many organizing groups continue successfully to raise money internally, the growth of organizing over the past three decades seems to have been fueled largely by external funding sources such as foundations, corporations, and, to a lesser extent, government. [5]

Before we describe how organizing evaluates the strengths and limitations of different funding streams, internal and external, we simply wish to describe what we know about how organizing is funded -- from the recent research and from recent data we have analyzed.

The available research on patterns of organizing funding

We briefly (see Bibliography for more detail) describe and summarize several studies of community organizing groups, done for different purposes, with different samples, and at different times. The studies are:

  • Jerome Don Harris' case studies of 25 Chicago based community organizing groups through the 1970's, a rare longitudinal study (looking at how organizing groups grow or decline over time); [6]
  • Carl Milofsky's and Frank Romo's panel study of a set of neighborhood organizations (some of which are community organizing and some of which are not) in 1978 and again in 1984; [7]
  • John McCarthy and Jim Castelli's study of over 200 National Catholic Campaign for Human Development grantees in 1994, the best available quantitative research on funding patterns of organizing; [8]
  • Mark Warren's and Richard Wood's 2001 study of over 100 faith based organizing groups nationwide; [9] and
  • Kris Smock's very recent qualitative study of 10 community organizing groups from 5 different organizing traditions. [10]
  • We present their findings as a table.

A Summary of Recent Studies on Patterns of Funding of Community Organizing
(in chronological order)

Name of study, author, date Sample and methodology Key findings
"Grass Roots Organizing in the City of Chicago," Jerome Don Harris, 1980. Case studies of 25 community organizations, longitudinal data analysis.
  1. Organizations studied were highly dependent on external funding, especially from churches; only one organization in his study had predominantly grassroots funding, and that organization failed during the course of the study.
  2. External funding was problematic because external funders focused on start-up rather than ongoing operating support, and especially problematic to the extent that the Catholic church was the dominant external funder and, later, pulled back.
  3. Multiple funding sources promote sustainability: of 11 organizations never dependent on a single source of funding, 10 survived, and 1 died; of 14 organizations that did depend on a single source of funding, 7 survived and 7 died.
"The Structure of Funding Arenas for Neighborhood Based Organizations," Carl Milofsky and Frank Romo, 1988. 200 neighborhood organizations (some are organizing, some are not) surveyed in 1978 and again in 1984.
  1. 2/3 of the organizations surveyed survived from Time 1 to Time 2, and those that received government funding were more likely to survive.
  2. 70% of the 200 sampled organizations received 70% or more of their funding from a single source-category of fundraising (federal government, local government, businesses, foundations, churches & canvassing, internal).
  3. Older organizations tend to be more complex and diverse, enabling sustainability regardless of fundraising practices.
  4. There is no clear relationship between funding sources and promoting/suppressing democratic participation in the organizations studied.
"Working for Justice: The Campaign for Human Development and Poor Empowerment Groups," John D. McCarthy and Jim Castelli, 1994. Evaluation of the National Catholic Campaign for Human Development, including budget and fundraising data reported by over 200 grantees.
  1. Organizing groups' budgets are very modest compared with the budgets of their typical targets (business and government).
  2. The average total current year budget of the groups studied was $213,050.
  3. Only one organization in eight was at least 15 years old, and budgets tended to rise with organizational age.
  4. 56.1% of the groups' income came from grants: churches (including the Campaign) accounted for 24.7% of total granted funds; foundations, for 26.4%; and government, for 20.5%.
  5. Grassroots fundraising accounted for 15% of previous year budgets: 162 groups (64%) collected membership dues and 47% used special events.
"Faith Based Community Organizing" Mark R. Warren and Richard L. Wood, 2001 A survey fielding replies from 100 organizing groups.
  1. Of the 100 organizations surveyed, the median annual budget was $150,000.
  2. Of that, 30% came from foundation and corporate grants, 22% came from membership dues, 19% from CCHD, 12% from other faith-based funders, and 5% from local fundraising.
Democracy in Action, Kristina Smock, 2004. Case studies of 10 community organizing groups from 5 organizing traditions.
  1. Only one organization in her sample was predominantly funded from internal sources, and that was a non-staffed group.
  2. All other organizations - including the two network affiliated "power organizing" groups - were funded predominantly by grants (foundation, corporate, or government).
  3. Organizations succeeded in raising external funds by couching their requests in ways familiar to funders - short term issues victories with quantifiable results.

In summary, these studies as well as several other case studies we have reviewed [11] have found that:

  • Organizing budgets are modest, often intentionally so, to assure that the organization relies as much as possible on volunteer leadership.
  • Many organizing groups tend to be highly reliant on one source of funding or another, and that source typically is external.
  • Funding diversity is correlated with organizational age and seems to promote organizational sustainability.
  • Despite the strong reliance of so many organizing groups on one funding source, organizing groups are highly resilient, according to the two longitudinal studies, and organizers are quite effective in replacing lost funds with other sources. Even Harris, who observes a "Sugar Daddy" hypothesis of organizing fundraising, noted that few groups died when their major funder pulled out, but they did have to re-group. This finding speaks well to organizing's capacity to strengthen and diversify its fundraising base if that goal becomes a core focus of the work.
  • There is a strong belief within the organizing community that internally raised funds are "better" in building ownership and organizing muscle, and, thus, when groups are funded externally, they are more vulnerable to goal displacement and organizational instability. But those few researchers who have examined the impact of funding patterns on organizations find overall funding levels and funding diversity to be more important in sustaining the organization and its level and kinds of activity than any particular pattern of internal or external funding. This question seriously warrants further, and more rigorous, study.

Two conclusions are worth quoting for their relevance to and the questions they pose for organizing fundraising today:

  • Funding is a continuing problem for community organizations. Many have budgets of less than $150,000 a year, yet they must do battle with much better funded governments and businesses. Community organizations, in even the poorest neighborhoods, can raise significant amounts of grassroots income . But the idea that most of these groups can ever become financially self-sufficient appears to be a myth. Even the most financially self-sufficient groups we saw still raised 20 percent or more of their budget from outside sources. Grassroots fundraising is labor intensive. When groups can raise enough money on their own to keep their doors open, they still turn to grants and other funding sources to finance new and expanded programs. [12]
  • Whatever it is that causes NBOs (neighborhood based organizations) to rely so heavily on single (funding) arenas does not seem rooted in structure. More likely, funding arenas embody certain institutionalized practices, norms, and sets of network connections that make it convenient for fund-raisers to continue relying on certain sources. It is expensive for small organizations to forge new contacts and learn new ways to write grant applications. Although organizations can shift their funding sources, this is easiest when they carry on diverse activities and gain support from many sources. Diversity is a benefit provided by size and age. But since NBOs are by nature fluid and loosely structured, there are few barriers preventing leaders at any stage of organizational development from seeking out a diversified base of support. Doing so is likely to increase chances of long term survival. [13]

Contemporary quantitative data: the national CCHD grantee database

Gaining good quantitative data about community organizing revenues

One of our keenest disappointments was discovering how fatally limited the IRS Form 990 [14] is for our purposes; it is the "gold standard" of information on nonprofit funding for many kinds of nonprofits and, increasingly, the single most important source of financial information on the nonprofit sector for prospective donors and for researchers. The 990 is quite useful for examining the many nonprofits that derive most of their income from government grants and program fees, supplementing these with individual donor appeals and foundation and corporate grants.

But for community organizing, the Form 990 is less useful because it combines most of the major sources of funding for organizing on one line - Public Support - and thus critically limits our ability to understand funding patterns from this document. Public Support includes foundation grants, corporate grants and donations, individual gifts, and membership dues that are not tied to the receipt of goods or services. From the Form 990, we can only get a picture of how much of an organizing group's budget comes from this "mega" revenue source, as well as from dues for which goods and services are received, interest income, program fees, special events, government grants and contracts, and other earned income. Because these sources of income beyond public support are so modest, we really learn very little from the Form 990.

In exploring the use of the Form 990 for community organizing, we also found significant missing information (the number of staff, for instance) and erroneous information (a group highly effective in internal fundraising reported all of its income as government grants), further limiting our confidence in using the Form 990. We ended up using the Form 990 episodically, to verify some data on some organizations. But we recommend that organizing groups pay focused attention to the accuracy and completeness of the Form 990s, as, increasingly, this information - posted on -- is a portal to the organization for new donors.

To gain a quantitative picture of organizing revenues, then, we had to change strategies. We turned to the grantee database of the national Catholic Campaign for Human Development, recognizing that CCHD is the largest grantmaker in community organizing nationwide, well known to any community organization that raises funds effectively, and highly effective at screening out applicants that do not do "real" organizing. Because CCHD makes grants to projects, not organizations, we eliminated from our analysis organizing "projects" that were not part of organizing "organizations". Through this process, we analyzed the fundraising data of 240 community organizations nationwide.

We fully recognize that this sample is not perfect; it is simply the best available source available on how community organizing is funded. Three cautions about the data.

  • First, the organizations analyzed cannot be assumed to represent all organizing nonprofits nationwide: the organizations in this database have applied for and qualified for a CCHD grant, and, thus, are different from community organizing that does not seek grants and does not qualify for CCHD funding (which requires a board predominantly of low income people and adherence to Roman Catholic values, among others). This is not a universe of organizing nonprofits nationwide.
  • Second, the budget figures we present are those reported by the staff person completing the application. Sometimes, these are actual, audited figures; sometimes, it is unclear how firm the figures are.
  • Third, note that sample sizes change for different analyses - not all of the organizations provided data on all of the variables examined.

The sample

The total sample of 240 organizations was comprised almost equally of groups in the Northeast, Mid Atlantic, South, Midwest, and West (about 50 from each), smaller numbers from the Southwest (25) and Plains/Mountain states (15), which also are less populated than the other areas. Some salient characteristics:

The "average" sampled organizing nonprofit is . . .
  • 8 years old (median; the mean is 12.75 years);
  • Affiliated with at least one organizing network (148 or 61.7% of sample were so affiliated; 92, or 38.3% were not network affiliated);
  • Staffed by an Executive Director/Organizer and 3 others (median; the mean was 5.47, and the range was 0 to 40);
  • Multi-issues in its focus (157, or 65.4%; of the remaining single issue groups, immigrant rights and employment predominated);
  • Multi-ethnic in its membership and constituency base (153 organizations were best classified multi-ethnic; 53 were of one or more groups of people of color; and 30 were predominantly of white people);
  • Local in its focus (179 or 74.6% were local; 19 were regional; 33 were statewide; and 3 were multi-state); and
  • With an individual (126 or 52.4%) or institutional (97 or 40.4%) membership base (coalitions and chapters complete the sample)).

Because this study is especially focused on sharing learnings with the broader organizing field on how to sustain community organizing, we lifted out those that had stood the test of time in raising budgets and will present some findings on this group specifically.

Of the 240 sampled organizing nonprofits, 132 of them have been in existence over 4 years and have budgets (2002) of at least $50,000.


While we collected three year data as provided by the grantees, we present 2002 data primarily, because fewer respondents provided previous year data, creating significant amounts of missing information. We do check the available previous year data to assure that 2002 data are not significantly idiosyncratic.

Finding #1: Organizing nonprofits do raise funds from diverse sources.

Community organizing groups indeed raise funds from multiple sources, even if groups tend to rely on a small number (for instance, dues and grants) of revenue generation tools:

Sources of revenue, sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002
(Note: 23 of the 240 organizations in the database did not provide clear data.)

Revenue source No. reporting income from this source
Grants from foundations, church groups, and corporate foundations 206
Dues from institutional and/or individual members 143
Individuals (direct appeals including letters, phone, canvassing, one on ones, Internet) 124
Other/miscellaneous income 80
Earned income (training fees, contract work, program fees, sales of goods) 77
Donations from corporations (including ad books) and unions 66
Unspecified grassroots fundraising 62
Special events 47
Workplace giving (United Ways, Community Shares, Combined Federal Campaign) 12
Grant/subsidy from network 10

We next begin to provide some data on the "average" grantee. A brief reminder to readers that the mean, or arithmetic average, is affected by extremes (for instance, a few organizations that are very large) while the median (the 50th percentile, or half of organizations have higher and half, lower) is not. The median, however, is influenced by small sample sizes, and the mean provides more opportunities for analysis. In presenting the share of total revenue of a particular fundraising source, we use the mean.

We present pie charts for 2002 and for 2001 to illustrate the various parts that comprise the revenue budget whole. Later, we will examine "external" vs. "internal" revenue shares in more detail. But, more generally, what the pie charts show us is that, while grants comprise well over half of organizing revenues, organizing nonprofits do raise funds from a variety of sources:

Finding #2: Overall revenue is quite modest

The mean revenue budget in 2002 for CCHD grantees that are organizing nonprofits was $207,686; the median, $133,560. In 2001, the mean revenue budget for these groups was $188,432; the median, $130,500.

As others have found, longer lived organizations seem able to raise larger revenue budgets, with organizations more than 4 years old raising over twice the budget level of younger organizations:

Revenue budgets by age of organization,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Age of organization Mean Median
Four years or younger (n=53) $115,155 $62,500
Over four years (n=155) $242,908 $174,999

But further examination of the data finds that age of organization is only very modestly correlated with total income (r = .123, not statistically significant).

There is significant regional variation in revenue budget size, with Northeast and Southwest organizations having smaller budgets:

Revenue budgets by region,
sampled organizing nonprofit, 2002

Region Mean Median
Northeast (n=46 supplying data) $145,951 $114,671
Midwest (n=47) $269,451 $133,229
Plains/Mountain (n=14) $181,897 $136,280
Southwest (n=21) $152,071 $128,780
West (n=49) $225,019 $176,874
South (n=40) $219,973 $119,804

Not surprisingly, the budgets of local organizing groups are more modest than those with larger reaches:

Revenue budgets by scope of organizational activity,
Sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Scope Mean Median
Local (n=164 supplying data) $178,809 $121,739
Multi diocese (n=17) $205,631 $148,299
Statewide (n=28) $380,405 $256,162
Multi-state (n=3) $415,998 $383,170

Multi issues organizations have slightly higher revenue budgets than single issue organizations:

Revenue budgets by issues organization tackles,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Issues focus Mean Median
Single issue (n=72 supplying data) $189,518 $115,962
Multi issues (n=145) $216,707 $137,262

And coalitions, not surprisingly, have larger budgets than either individual or institutional membership groups:

Revenue budgets by organizational architecture,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Architecture Mean Median
Individual members based (n=113) $219,068 $137,262
Institutional members based (n=88) $181,565 $128,068
Coalition (n=11) $355,958 $190,528
Chapter of national org. (n= 5) $83,995 $60,000

As to network affiliation, the type of "average" used strongly affects the findings. Organizing nonprofits nonaffiliated with networks have higher mean revenue budgets, but lower median budgets. The mean is elevated by 4 non-network organizations with over $1M in revenues (and one with nearly $1M); the median is depressed by 23 non-network affiliated organizations that are very small, with budgets under $50,000.

Revenue budgets by network affiliation,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Affiliation status Mean Median
Non-affiliated (n=81) $245,243 $123,369
Affiliated (n=136) $185,318 $135,920

Budget sizes varied somewhat among the major networks' affiliates who are CCHD grantees, with PICO affiliates who are CCHD grantees in the sample having higher budgets than others, but small sample sizes may explain some of the differences.

Revenue budgets by major network affiliate,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Network Mean Median
ACORN (n=30 supplying data) $204,115 $146,651
DART (n=12) $147,877 $141,568
Gamaliel (n=18) $158,102 $95,662
IAF (n=28) $131,981 $117,366
NTIC (n=10) $223,491 $133,395
PICO (n=21) $229,319 $194,796

Finding #3: Grants are the largest single source of organizing revenue.

The data we analyze confirm the widespread impression that grants from external sources - church grantmaking programs, foundations, and corporations - are the single most significant source of organizing revenue. We first present data on the percentages of total budgets supported by grants, and we then present information from organizations that supplied detailed data on their grants to CCHD on the sources of those grants.

In presenting the percentages, we use the mean percentage.

Unlike overall budgets, younger organizations did not have relatively less success in raising grant income than older organizations did, and, indeed, seem slightly more grants reliant than older groups. Nevertheless, on investigating further, there was no correlation (r = .039) between age of organization and grants reliance.

Grants reliance by age of organization,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Age of organization Percent grants
Four years or younger (n=49) 67.2%
Over four years (n=154) 61.8%

While grants were significant sources of income in all regions, approaching or exceeding 60% in all regions but the Southwest, organizations in the West and in the South had particular success in raising grants income:

Grants reliance by region,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Region Percent grants
Northeast (n=44) 61.3%
Midwest (n=46) 57.8%
Plains/Mountain (n=14) 63.8%
Southwest (n=21) 45.6%
West (n=46) 70.0%
South (n=40) 70.2%

Statewide groups are relatively less reliant on foundation grants than other groups (explained in part by their use of government funds, which comprise 14.1% of their budgets):

Grants reliance by scope of organizational activity,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Scope Percent grants
Local (n=161) 62.3%
Multi diocese (n=17) 66.8%
Statewide (n=26) 59.6%
Multi-state (n=3) 77.5%

Single issues and multi issues groups relied on grants income equally:

Grants reliance by issues organization tackles,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Issues focus Percent grants
Single issue (n=71) 63.6%
Multi issues (n=140) 62.2%

Chapters and coalitions seem to rely on grants to a greater extent than do either individual or institutional membership community organizations (but note the small sample sizes of the coalitions and chapters):

Grants reliance by organization architecture,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Architecture Percent grants
Institutional members based (n=88) 64.4%
Individual members based (n=113) 60.4%
Coalition (n=11) 66.2%
Chapter of national org. (n= 5) 73.8%

Organizing nonprofits that are affiliated with networks are slightly more reliant on grants than non-affiliated groups:

Grants reliance by network affiliation,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002
Affiliation status Percent grants
Non-affiliated (n=80) 61.0%
Affiliated (n=131) 64.0%

Our data suggest differences among the major organizational networks in grants reliance of affiliates, with, at the extremes, ACORN affiliates who are CCHD grantees raising less than half their revenue from grants and PICO affiliates who are CCHD grantees raising more than 3/4 of their income from grants:

Grants reliance by major network affiliate,
sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

Network Percent grants
ACORN (n=25) 48.2%
DART (n=12) 63.9%
Gamaliel (n=18) 59.0%
IAF (n=28) 59.0%
NTIC (n=10) 73.0%
PICO (n=21) 77.9%

We turn now to a brief description of who the grantmakers are who provide this grant support for community organizing. Data on grantmakers come from 158 grantees that provided information to CCHD on specific grants and grantmakers. Please remember that these data are not in any respect the universe of funders for community organizing: they are, rather, a glimpse of who funds organizing groups that are CCHD grantees and that provided detailed information about their funders.

The average organization supplying grants information reports receiving grants totaling $338,590 from 8.6 grantmaking organizations over a three year -- FY 2000 to FY 2002 -- period.

  • The 158 groups listed 601 grantmakers investing $53,497,139 in organizing between 2000 and 2002. We will discuss this database of grantmakers more fully later in this report. We present here the Top Ten grantmakers by
    • the amount of their investment and
    • the numbers of organizations they support.

Our tabulation of these data suggest that, for CCHD grantees, the CCHD remains, by far, the most significant grantmaker supporting community organizing in the nation. CCHD at the local level invests more than twice as much in organizing as does the top nonsectarian funder, the Mott Foundation, and CCHD national very nearly matches the Mott Foundation's investment:

10 largest grantmakers for organizing, dollars invested, FY 2000 through FY 2002, of 158 CCHD grantees providing detailed grants information:
  • CCHD (local and unspecified)
  • $6,032,842
  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • $2,523,217
  • CCHD (national)
  • $2,464,656
  • Ford Foundation
  • $1,629,380
  • Public Welfare Foundation
  • $1,532.500
  • James Irvine Foundation
  • $1,238,493
  • Veatch Program
  • $1,112,000
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • $ 950,000
  • California Endowment
  • $ 879,847
  • Rob't Wood Johnson Foundation
  • $ 851,904

    CCHD also invests in far more organizations than any other funder. Funders that appear on this list but not the former one, of course, tend to make smaller grants to larger numbers of organizations. Note the larger number of sectarian based funders on this list:

    10 largest grantmakers for organizing, organizations invested in, FY 2000 through FY 2002, of 158 CCHD grantees providing detailed grants information:
  • CCHD (local and unspecified)
  • 122 organizing nonprofits
  • CCHD (national)
  • 42 organizing nonprofits
  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • 34 organizing nonprofits
  • Tides Foundation
  • 21 organizing nonprofits
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • 21 organizing nonprofits
  • Public Welfare Foundation
  • 20 organizing nonprofits
  • Jewish Fund for Justice
  • 19 organizing nonprofits
  • Marianist Sharing Fund
  • 19 organizing nonprofits
  • Dominican Sisters
  • 18 organizing nonprofits
  • Needmor Foundation
  • 17 organizing nonprofits

    Finding #4: There is great variation within the field in the relative importance of membership dues to the overall revenue budget

    While the participation of members in raising revenue budgets is almost a definitional hallmark of community organizing, over 30% (65) of the organizations in our sample who provided information on membership (211) reported no membership dues income in 2002.

    Our data suggest that organizations with institutional memberships are more likely to collect dues from their members and to raise larger proportions of their income than are organizations with individual members. The last column suggests, of course, that dues income is a more significant revenue source for those who collect dues than for those who do not. One additional caution: organizations with individual members report more income from individuals than do organizations with institutional members. It is possible that individual member organizations do not clarify the difference between dues and individual donations, but we cannot interpret this distinction from the data.

    Dues by organizational architecture,
    sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

    Members are . . . # with dues income Mean % dues income - all Mean of those who collect dues
    Institutions (n=88) 69 15.6% 20.0%
    Individuals (n=107) 67 6.4% 10.3%
    Coalitions (n=11) 6 1.0% 1.2%
    Chapters (n=5) 4 7.0% 8.6%

    Organizations affiliated with networks are more likely to seek dues income and to raise revenue from dues:

    Dues by network affiliation,
    sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

    Network % with dues income % of income from dues
    No network affiliation (n=80) 41.2% (n=33) 4.3%
    Affiliated with a network (n=131) 78.6% (n=103) 13.3%

    Across the major networks, there is quite a bit of variation in how significant dues are in raising the organization's budget:

    Dues collection, non-network and major network affiliate,
    sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

    Network Percent dues
    ACORN (n=25) 13.9%
    DART (n=12) 13.9%
    Gamaliel (n=18) 20.2%
    IAF (n=28) 19.0%
    NTIC (n=10) 1.6%
    PICO (n=21) 7.9%

    Finding #5: Over half of organizing groups raised income from individuals in 2002; for those who did, individual donations comprised 11.6% of revenue.

    123 of 211 organizations who supplied detailed revenue data raised funds from individuals, including canvassing and telemarketing as well as other direct appeals. Amounts ranged from $20 to $180,955, one of 4 donations exceeding $100,000. Organizations with individual members raised slightly more from individuals than did organizations with institutional members; we cannot tell from these data the extent to which a) institutional member groups may feel restricted by their members from raising funds from individuals, nor b) individual member groups blur dues collection and fundraising solicitations from individuals. Both issues bear further examination. But the greater challenge is increasing revenue for organizing from individuals across the board.

    Individual donor revenue by organizational architecture,
    sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

    Members are . . . # with dues income Mean % dues income - all Mean of those who collect dues
    Institutions (n=88) 69 15.6% 20.0%
    Individuals (n=107) 67 6.4% 10.3%
    Coalitions (n=11) 6 1.0% 1.2%
    Chapters (n=5) 4 7.0% 8.6%

    Finding #6: One third of organizing nonprofits sought some kind of earned income in 2002; for those who did, it comprised 15.1% of revenues.

    77 of 217 reporting organizations reported some earned income, ranging from $55 to $250,000. Four organizations raised over half of their budgets from earned income. Earned income sources included:

    • Contracts to provide services, such as community outreach and education;
    • Fees for services such as leadership training and data collection; and
    • Sales of goods and services such as manuals, branded items, and, of course, bake sales and raffles.

    Finding #7: Corporate (including unions and ad books) giving to organizing was extremely modest, accounting for but 3.2% of revenues of the "average" organization in our sample, raising questions about how corporate giving is classified.

    We classified large corporate foundation grants as grants. Otherwise, we classified donations from corporations, including unions, separately. Nevertheless, the sums seem unduly modest, suggesting that some organizations consider local businesses "members" and classify their donations as dues. For instance, 11 of 12 Direct Action and Research Training Center, Inc. (DART) affiliates reported no income from corporations, even though the corporate drive is the centerpiece of DART's fundraising strategy. Of the 217 organizations providing information about corporate income, 62 organizations reported revenue from corporations and unions, ranging from $350 to $115,000. For those who do raise corporate income and report it separately, it comprised 11.3% of their budgets overall.

    Finding #8: Few organizing nonprofits host events, making events a relatively insignificant income source overall.

    Of the 217 organizations providing detailed income data, only 37 raised income from events, ranging from $150 to $52,000. Events produced 2.9% of the "average" organizing nonprofit's budget in 2002. Of organizations who did host events, however, events were more significant, producing 11.6% of total revenue.

    Finding #9: Few organizing nonprofits seek government grants, but, for those who do, government is a significant source of revenue.

    In 2002, only 43 of 217 reporting organizations received government grants. (Note: We subsequently discovered in the interview process that more organizations accepted government revenue for their organizations but consider it a fee for service, such as for KidCare enrollment, classifying this revenue as 'earned income' rather than 'government grants'. We also note that some organizing - Texas IAF for instance - has created new 501c3 structures to accept government funds apart from the local organizing groups that would apply to CCHD for grant funds. Thus, our database likely under represents the extent of government grant support for organizing.) While government revenue was thus only 5.2% of the "average" organization's revenue, it comprised a significant 28.0% of the revenue bases of those who won government grants. Most government grantseeking occurred among non-networked organizations (28 of the 43); government grants comprised 11.3 % of revenue among non-networked organizations and ranged from $303 to $1.6M. Among the major networks, only National Training and Information Center (NTIC) affiliate CCHD grantees sought government grants to any extent: 7 of 10 in this network did. The largest government grant sources for 39 organizing groups reporting on them were:

    • The Community Development Block Grant, which provided $885,000 to 8 groups during the FY 2000-2002 period;
    • The 21st Century Learning Centers program, which provided $646,501 to one group during the period; and
    • The Environmental Protection Agency, which provided $589,710 to 4 groups.

    Other federal agencies included the US Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, HUD, the Community Service Block Grant, and, of course, the Corporation for Public Service. State and local level disabilities councils and agencies, HIV-AIDS outreach programs, and human services agencies were predominant government funders at these levels. Several grants from cities did not specify the source.

    Finding #10: Workplace giving is not a significant source of support for organizing.

    Only 12 of the 217 reported any workplace giving income at all, and only 4 reported workplace giving of at least $10,000. One organization raised $53,000 from workplace giving. Given the size and importance of United Ways in providing unrestricted income for nonprofits nationwide, and given the United Way's increasing emphasis on investing in community building results, these data suggest a tremendous opportunity - but perhaps also an intractable barrier - in gaining entry for organizing into the United Way. These data also suggest the modest grantmaking capacities of "alternative" workplace giving vehicles such as Black United Funds and Community Shares.


    1. The revenue budgets of organizing nonprofits are extremely modest and, from the available evidence, are not keeping up with increases in the cost of doing business, let alone growing. McCarthy and Castelli found - ten years ago -- that the average budget for a CCHD funded organization was $213, 050 (mean); we found in our smaller sample of CCHD organizing nonprofit grantees that the average budget in 2002 was $207,686 (mean). While recognizing that McCarthy and Castelli were looking at a larger group of organizations 10 years ago than we are today, our finding that community organizing nonprofits raise about the same levels of revenue that CCHD grantees did 10 years ago, not adjusted for increases in the cost of doing business, is sobering. If we adjusted for increases in the cost of doing business, revenue for the "average" community organization would have actually declined over the past 10 years. Our data thus suggest that there may be too much hand wringing in the field about (the perception of) foundation reliance and too little about the overall modest investment in organizing.

    2. We find grants a significant -- and an apparently increasing -- source of organizing income, but not the very great over reliance found or suggested by recent research. While we caution readers that we cannot firmly establish trends by comparing our data to the McCarthy and Castelli data of CCHD grantees 10 years ago (he was examining all CCHD grantees while we have selected out those that are organizing nonprofits, and, in addition, reporting requirements to the CCHD have changed over the decade), the organizations in our sample did indeed raise a higher percentage of their revenue budgets from grants than did CCHD grantees 10 years ago. In our sample, 62.8% of budgets were raised from private grants and 5.2% from government grants; in McCarthy and Castelli's sample, 56% of revenue budgets were raised from private and public grants combined. We question the extent to which this constitutes "over reliance," though, as organizations in our sample had diverse grants sources (nearly 9 over a three year period) and did indeed raise funds from multiple sources. Thus, Harris' "Sugar Daddy" hypothesis does not seem to be supported from our data.

    3. Organizations raise a significant share of funds -- 29% -- internally.
      Our definition of "internal income" encompasses dues, events, individuals, corporate donations, earned income, and other grassroots income. While this 29% does not meet the "standard" of 2/3 that some organizing networks advocate, it is very near the 1/3 standard that others seek. This figure is also nearly double the "grassroots income" level reported by McCarthy and Castelli 10 years ago (15% of total revenue for CCHD grantees was grassroots income), although we caution readers that he may have been using a more conservative definition of "grassroots income" than we use of "internal income".

    4. Organizations that budget for fundraising staff had larger overall budgets, with the difference largely in foundation grants. In other words, fundraising staff enable organizations to increase their grantseeking activity while maintaining their internal income generating activities. (Note: we discovered in the interview process that this did not mean that fundraising staff focused on grantseeking, but, rather, that they often freed other staff to spend more time on grantseeking while the fundraiser staff picked up the staff burden of internal fundraising.)

      Does budget include a staff fundraiser?
      sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

        Total mean 2002 revenue Total grants Total internal
      No (n=174) $167,666 $110,760 $44,818
      Yes (n=28) $305,786 $232,595 $53,029


    5. Organizations that had proven sustainability -- were at least 4 years old and had budgets of at least $50,000 -- raised more revenue than the entire group, but in the same proportions. We defined an organization as "proven sustainable" if it was at least four years old -- and had, thus, survived the first three year funding cycle - and if it had a budget of at least $50,000, enabling it to retain at least one full time staff person to build the organization.

      Sampled organizing nonprofits, 2002

        Total mean 2002 revenue Total grants Total internal
      All (n=217) $205,623 63.0% 29.2%
      Sustainable (n= 117) $286,286 64.5% 25.6%

      Correlation coefficients found no relationship between age of organization and percent of budget raised from grants, age of organization and percent of budget raised internally, and size of organization and percent raised from grants. There was a modest and statistically significant negative correlation (r = -.203) between size of organization and percent raised internally. In other words, the conventional wisdom that it gets easier/harder to raise grants income or internal income as an organization matures is not confirmed by our data.

    6. The contrast between organizing revenue sources and charitable giving overall in the US is sharp, suggesting that organizing is doing a great job of securing foundation support but has significant opportunities and challenges to improve its individual donations and planned giving (bequests, charitable annuities, etc.) programs. The organizing nonprofits in our sample raised nearly 63% of their budgets from foundations; nationwide, only 10.9% of charitable giving in 2003 came from foundations. On the other hand, nationwide, 74.5% of charitable giving came from individuals and an additional 9.0% came from bequests, (a continually rising share of giving), far higher percentages than all but a handful of organizations in our database achieved, even when we count membership and events income as coming from individuals:



    Our analysis of contemporary data on funding patterns in organizing - through the lens of national CCHD grantees -- confirms recent studies' findings that organizing nonprofits operate on very modest resources, predominantly via grants from foundations and church related philanthropies supplemented by membership dues and other fundraising activities of the organization. To an important extent, the modest size of organizing budgets may be "good" and intentional, a strategy to assure that most of the work is carried out by a volunteer membership. Surely continued reflection and dialogue in the field is warranted on the question of what an "ideal" organizing budget is to support continuous growth in power and effectiveness. But since this research project arose from articulated concerns of organizers that they were not raising such ideal budgets, we assume that the modest size of many organizing nonprofit budgets is too modest to achieve the organizations' intended impact. We turn now to voices from the field - to organizers, funders of organizing, and other organizing experts who describe revenue generation issues, concerns, and, most of all, promising practices toward achieving the kind of revenue support organizing needs to achieve the impact it seeks.

    Section Two: Improving How Organizing Raises Funds
    by Jane Beckett

    Revenue Sources: Practices and Perceptions

    We sought to learn from interviews with organizers and informed organizing observers what creative organizations are doing to raise diverse funds as well as their perspectives about the strengths and weaknesses of different revenue streams to support organizing goals.

    These practices and perspectives derive from diverse organizing styles and traditions, and we alert readers that what works for one organizing style and tradition may not be as appropriate or feasible for another. Differences in size, age, demographics of membership, issue focus, political orientation, region, rural vs. urban, and more all have a distinct impact on an organization's judgment as to what a strong revenue base would look like for it.

    In addition, there is a great deal of variation between the community organizing networks that link about half of the CCHD grantees to each other. The networks vary widely in terms of how close, how demanding, and how supportive the relationship between network and affiliates is. They have different purposes, different histories, and different structures. It would not make sense to expect ACORN affiliates, which are in fact all chapters of a single 501©3 organization based in Louisiana, to have fundraising practices that mirrored those of NTIC affiliates, which are free-standing organizations that share an interest in several critical issues but differ widely in terms of structure, history, and philosophy. Inter Valley Project affiliates all share the same "story" - that of the flight of factory jobs from smaller New England cities - whereas IAF affiliates, while sharing a methodology, are widely scattered and address very different issues from each other. Organizations that relate to and receive training from the Center for Third World Organizing, share some elements of a political analysis, but do not necessarily consider themselves to be a network. And so on.

    Because of these different histories, perspectives, and environments, different organizations and schools of organizing will certainly have different opinions as to the relative advantages and disadvantages that come with the various types of income that we explore below - for practical as well as values-driven reasons.

    Foundation funding

    According to organizing orthodoxy, community organizing should never be reliant on foundation funding. Organizing should raise its core support internally and look to foundations for seed and special project support. In his cogent analysis of the strengths and weakness of various nonprofit fundraising strategies, Jon Pratt locates foundation grants as low on both of the critical dimensions of a good revenue source: reliability and autonomy. [15] Major architects of modern day organizing would agree with this analysis, observing that foundation grants neither build ownership in the organization nor provide stable funding. Nevertheless, as we have already seen, foundation funding remains a major source of organizing funding, far exceeding internally raised funds in a high proportion of organizations. Both organizers and funders of community organizing actively seek to increase the amount of foundation funds granted to organizing. And, within the funding community, a robust discussion takes place about the pros and cons of general operating vs. special project support. [16]

    We will turn later to thinking and trends within the foundation community about organizing. Right now, we focus on what organizers and knowledgeable observers have told us about the strengths and limitations of foundation (and then other) fundraising as one revenue strategy in supporting organizing.

    Most of the organizers we interviewed perceive foundation grants as money that can be gotten in a short time, in large amounts, and that can attract other foundation funding. Many organizers say that, given the constraints on their time, it is more productive to spend a day writing a grant proposal than it is talking with prospective members or donors.

    Organizer Josh Hoyt:

    "It would be harder for me to make phone calls to 20 < wealthy individuals > than to write a funding proposal."

    Seth Borgos, Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development of the Center for Community Change, notes that

    "Most Executive Directors have impossible jobs . . . they gravitate to foundations since the front end investment seems lower."

    Collaborative Grantseeking: Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO)

    Although most organizing groups, even those that collaborate to pursue issue campaigns, keep their foundation contacts and strategies to themselves, the four NWFCO affiliates (which are statewide organizations) have decided to pool their knowledge, practices, and even their relationships with foundations. Executive Director LeeAnn Hall says that these four organizations agreed, when she came on as Executive Director of the umbrella organization, to function more as a team in all ways, and so cooperating in the realm of fundraising followed naturally. The four affiliates meet quarterly to discuss foundation proposals, they share their financial statements quarterly, and they use a shared Excel database to store all of the knowledge about the foundations they are considering approaching with each other. Each affiliate is aware of proposal submissions of the others, and all proposals stress the teamwork aspect of the cooperating organizations, not how "unique: or "special" they are. The result: increased income for all affiliates and for NWFCO itself. The proof: none of the affiliates has dropped out of the cooperative arrangement for fundraising.

    But, true to Pratt's analysis, many organizers also perceive foundation grants as money that is hard to maintain over time, due to the time limits imposed by most foundations and the tendencies of foundations to tie funding to work on particular issues and to shift their issue preferences periodically (and, according to many of our respondents, sometimes arbitrarily). Maximum returns on this strategy are reached relatively soon, with additional increases becoming more and more difficult as time goes by. Steve Klink, Director of Fund Development for the PICO National Network, says that during the first four or five years of an organization's life, foundation fundraising seems the easiest; after that, individual donations programs start to look easier because they "don't have to be started from scratch due to changes in priorities." Maureen O'Connell, Executive Director of Save Our Cumberland Mountains, feels that "the older groups like us run out of time with foundations." On the other hand, for organizations that exist in large metropolitan areas and that have access to national foundations and corporate supporters, it is possible to move from one set of foundation funders to another repeatedly, returning to the beginning funders after the designated "off" rotations.

    Another difficulty with foundation funding, and one which community organizations and other nonprofits appear to be increasingly aware of, is that it alone of the income streams that organizations have access to, requires them to compete directly against each other for the available resources Organizers we interviewed are keenly aware that foundation funding supplies but a small fraction of charitable giving nationwide, and that they are thus collectively pursuing a relatively modest pot of funding. In addition, foundation funding is heavily concentrated on the East and West coasts. Some parts of the country (the South was mentioned many times by interviewees) are particularly short on foundations that are willing to fund community organizing).

    Foundation funding is not seen as violating organizing principles and values as long as it doesn't control or distort the mission of the recipient (and the amount that it takes to meet that standard depends on whom you talk to). Respondents almost universally agreed, however, that organizations that get almost all of their funding from foundations are seen as failing to work towards member ownership of the organization and thus as failing at a core principle of community organizing. Says Sue Chinn, then Executive Director of the Discount Foundation and now Chief of Staff and Associate Director of the Center for Community Change, "The question of support for organizing is a question of power for this sector. I believe organizing won't grow in power and authority through foundation support alone."

    Sonya Garcia, Executive Director of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, made the point that if members of an organization have nothing to do with raising the money for the organization's support, they don't have ownership of the organization and can't even establish reciprocity or relationships of equality with their own staff. Seven participants of a focus group of 16 Chicago-area community organizations said that "ownership" was the chief reason they strive to improve their grass roots fundraising.

    Hubert Dixon III, a Center for Community Change team leader and organizer, expressed this dynamic as a recommendation that community organizations "should be thinking about how fundraising helps raise power."

    The potential for ethical conflict with organizing issues springs from the same dynamic and is not a generic problem but rather one that can occur depending on who the funder is and what issues the recipient organization wants to pursue. It exists mostly at the level of limitation of choice: there are some issues that will not be funded by many or any funders, and so the organization, if totally dependent on foundation funding, is forced to allow funders to make decisions about what will be pursued when that choice should belong to the organization. We did hear, several times, about foundation funding that was not continued because the recipient organizations decided to push for changes with which the foundation disagreed. (Interestingly, in one case the organization failed to take a position that was "progressive" enough for the foundation). There are other issues, at any given time, that are in favor with funders in general (or a particular funder) that might not be pursued if designated money was not available to pursue them (and the organization was not so desperately in need of money). This is the well-known "chasing program -related funding" dilemma, whose outcome is described by veteran organizer Mike Miller [17]:

    The result is a politics of patrons, a kind of new feudalism in which various benefactors . . . unaccountable to the constituencies which they support, too often call the shots by creating guidelines and requirements that weaken the organic development of individual organizing efforts.

    This observation also illuminates the issue of "strings" vis-à-vis foundation funding: funding restricted to support of a particular issue is, by definition, funding that has strings, since community organizations universally want (and need) unrestricted funding in order to be free to develop their agendas in a way that is responsive to emerging needs and opinions in their communities.

    From the other side of the table, several funders and other expert observers suggested ways in which community organizations could improve their chances of getting funding from foundations. We will discuss their observations later in this report.


    Income from corporations can resemble grant income from foundations (especially if it comes from a corporate foundation or a highly structured corporate giving program with staff, guidelines, and a fixed budget). However, it can equally as well be thought of as donation income if the asking is done by leaders, if the transaction is framed as an investment rather than as charity, and if there is a sense that the donation has been raised by the same process that generates donations from smaller businesses and individuals. (See section on Donations, below.)

    Corporate Support: Corporate contributions based on long-term interests

    There is a category of income from corporations that is generated not by the effects of philanthropy on the corporation's image, and not entirely by relationship-building, but by the fact that the community organization has a long track record of intervention in the marketplace that is important to the corporations. The outstanding example of this is the income that flows from financial services companies (banks, Savings and Loans, insurance companies, etc) and the groupings of organizations that have been particularly active in the effort to make mortgage credit available (and available on terms advantageous to individual borrowers and to the communities where the loans are made).

    These organizations - many of them affiliated with NTIC or with ACORN but with significant representation from all sectors of community organizing - receive grants and earned income contracts from the financial services industry partly because of the Community Reinvestment Act - created in the struggle against mortgage redlining in the 1970's -which requires lending institutions to demonstrate both effort and results in making credit available in lower income and minority communities.

    An additional dynamic has to do with the reality that the lending industry, faced with a substantial movement that wants to alter the terms of business in their realm, prefers to maintain, as best they can, at least the possibility of clear communication with that movement. The late Gale Cincotta, founder of both the National Training and Information Center and its coalition arm, National People's Action, taught her staff and fellow leaders how to maintain both a very demanding stance vis-à-vis the lending industry based on effective organizing and the cultivation of many allies, and also the ability to talk to the industry, advise it, move it through persuasion, and in general maximize whatever tendencies can be found within the industry to do the right thing. The substantial funding that these organizations receive from banks and other lenders reflect a heavy involvement, by both givers and receivers, in a marketplace that is critical to the well-being of low and moderate income people, and also reflect a complicated and sometimes symbiotic relationship based on mutual need and (on the part of the community organization) the ability to be credible in a negotiating situation.

    Government grants and contracts

    Many community organizing groups approach government funding warily, if at all. Fears of co-optation particularly still abound in the field: Paul Marincel, Associate Director of the Gamaliel Foundation, told us that government funding should be used as a short-term strategy; Todd Dietterle of Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies, that extended government or contract funding can take an organization off-focus; Steve Klink, that long-term relationships of this nature can lead gradually to co-optation.

    Nevertheless, some organizers are finding ways to make government funding work in ways that they believe build their organizing. One "promising practice" is engaging the organization in providing a public service, for a fee provided for by government, that a) builds the organization and b) generates revenue for the organization, typically through allowable administrative overhead on the contract. This practice is considered more "earned income" than "government grant" by organizing and, as such, our discussion of government funding overlaps in some ways our discussion of earned income.

    Two major questions that organizations consider in pursuing government grants and contracts (and, indeed, private contracts as well) are:

    1. Does the grant/contract support the group's mission or does it distort the mission and distract staff and leaders from more critical work?

    This question arises because much (but not all) of government contract-based income is premised on the performance of substantial work for the government entity that represents choices made by the government, not the organization. In addition, the work itself is generally not organizing but outreach, and in addition it is not only the priority that is designed by the government entity but also the actual work plan. Examples would be contracts that require the organization to do outreach to/enrollment of community residents in benefits programs that they're eligible for; voter registration and Get Out The Vote work, and the like. (Similar contract activities can be done for private entities such as mortgage lenders.) These activities may fit in entirely comfortably with the organization's general mission or current priorities, without actually allowing the organization to move forward on those priorities because of the time commitment (by staff or leadership or both) to the contracted activities. To the extent that organizational time is spent on activities dictated from without, the organization's own discernment and decision-making processes can be weakened. On the other hand, Nancy Aardema, Executive Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) notes that sometimes these outreach programs have been demanded by the communities themselves because they have been able to see that government benefits were going unused due to lack of outreach; in these instances communities have been through a decision-making process and an organizing process just to get the government entity to agree to adequate implementation.

    Other types of government-supported activities are born not in the existence of a government program that needs extra hands to make it work, but in the ideas and passions of the community that come to be expressed in a new type of program, devised and carried out by a community organization or group of organizations, that needs and should receive government support.

    Government grants and contracts: Logan Square Neighborhood Association

    Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) in Chicago has found shared interest with several government funding programs - including the 21st Century Learning Centers program -- in involving parents in public school improvement. With government funding, LSNA has created Community Learning Centers, which are public schools that stay open in the late afternoon and early evening so as to provide recreation and academic support for children, and also educational and personal development activities for parents. A central feature of LSNA's Community Learning Centers is that parents can learn both how to be mentors in the public schools and also how to participate and lead in public life in general. This is an example of a community service that was imagined by the community itself - which then went out and through organizing and constituency-building, created funding streams to make the idea happen. Executive Director Nancy Aardema notes that LSNA has had opportunities to be funded to deliver other sorts of programming that it has turned down - Board members and staff could not see enough of a connection with LSNA's organizing priorities to justify the addition.


    Government grants and contracts: The Interfaith Education Fund

    The Interfaith Education Fund was created by Texas IAF affiliates to support their Alliance Schools educational reform and improvement process. It receives funding from state government entities to carry out a school-community level process that in some ways mirrors standard community organizing practice: one-on-one conversations, exploration of parents', educators', and community members' values and hopes around their school and education in general, facilitation of meetings to create consensus, engagement with the institution to create change. (See "Alliance Schools Concept Paper, " Interfaith Education Fund, 2003,

    A distinct difference between how these two organizations have handled their government funding, however, is that LSNA (like most community organizations that also operate major ongoing externally-funded programs) accommodates the funding for its Parent Mentor programming through its own budget, whereas the Texas IAF affiliates created a free-standing organization to administer the Alliance Schools effort; IAF affiliates in Texas and elsewhere continue to use this model, using non membership-based 501©3 sister organizations to receive government and foundation money to support special programming around statewide issues as well as specialized training for local IAF affiliates or in other instances, services for local communities. This allows the local membership-based, 501©4 affiliates to be largely self-supporting while at the same time permitting the use of government (and foundation) funding to support organizational goals. Frank Pierson, Executive Director of Arizona Institute for Public Life, states that this arrangement involves some opportunity costs - it takes time and talent to set up the sister organizations - but that the upside is increased capacity and in some cases resources. Of course community organizations have a long history of creating (and then spinning off) sister organizations to do housing development.

    Finally, there are sometimes opportunities for community organizations to get government grants to continue doing what they would do anyway - organize communities for change.

    Government grants and contracts: MOSES

    Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES) in Detroit has received funding from the Bureau of Substance Abuse to do congregation-based organizing pretty much along the lines of what it has always done, since that strategy helps alleviate crime in the communities where it is done by building social fabric, strengthening community networks, and creating a leadership base that knows how to work together to hold local law enforcement agencies accountable.

    1. How demanding/bossy/sensitive is the granting or contracting agency likely to be about this organization's organizing activities?

    When community organizing groups are doing work that the agency has a dire need for - when, for example, the agency doesn't have the internal capacity to do work that's necessary for the implementation of mandated programs and literally must contract it out, and it's not clear who else could do it - the agency is not likely to be sensitive about the organization's organizing activities, even if they are controversial.

    Government contracts: KidCare enrollment by Chicago ACORN

    One example of a contract that transcends political overtones and builds organizing is the outreach work done by Chicago ACORN to sign up low income children for KidCare, the health care insurance for low-income children available through the State of Illinois. This contract allowed ACORN to pay some of its members to go door-to-door in communities where they would have liked to have a presence anyway; and it was entirely consonant with ACORN's interest in all issues related to access to health care for underserved communities.

    If an organization pursues funding from a government or other contracting agency for activities that are not as central to that agency's own mission, the risk of termination goes up if political conflict erupts - and we did hear about several such cases during the course of our interviews.

    Conventional wisdom holds that government funding (contract or otherwise) carries the heaviest bureaucratic burden of any type of income; there is definitely a learning curve and a need to develop and maintain relationships with the relevant granting or contracting agency and, usually, more than one of its staff. Even in order to get the funding in the first place, an extended organizing campaign is often necessary, and after the campaign is won the politicians or bureaucrats who played roles in the effort must be kept on board. This would ordinarily mean that extended funding from the source would be sought, so as to justify the demanding start-up and learning phases. Indeed, several of the contract income and government-funded activities described above have gone on for many years and may continue indefinitely. However, as indicated above, there was also a contrary thread of opinion among our interviewees that said that government funding should be used only as a short-term strategy.

    Government and contract income share one feature with foundation grants: they are not unrestricted. The reliability of income from these sources is variable: some types of income, such as those tied up with the need for financial institutions to meet their obligations to make credit (and information about credit) available to lower-income communities (CRA obligations), are quite stable. Government funding that flows from long-term commitments by State and Federal governments to identified activities - legalization and naturalization (in some areas of the country), services for people with disabilities, crime and drug abatement, to name a few-- tends to be stable as well.

    The sensible approach also has a lot to do with the general political atmosphere that prevails in the organization's environment. Some communities enjoy fruitful, mutually respectful relationships with at least some of their local, county, State, and Federal elected officials and can count on them to run interference if need be when difficulties with the receipt and administration of government monies arise. Others find themselves surrounded by political atmospheres that range from indifferent to hostile to toxic; there, the risks that accompany government funding loom much larger. There is a huge difference between organizing in Cicero, Illinois, the Border region of Texas, rural Mississippi, or East Chicago, Indiana versus the Upper West Side of New York, Madison, Wisconsin, or San Francisco.

    As should be clear from the above, "what it takes" to get and use government funding (or other contract income) effectively includes two things: 1) an alignment between what a community organization wants to do and the categorical or special funding streams that flow from government or private entities, and 2) a level of organizational sophistication (both political and in terms of infrastructure) that will both support the funding relationship and prevent distortion of the organization's mission and goals.


    Dues, both individual and institutional, are in theory the best long-term basis for financial stability for community organizing groups. Dues income increases automatically as an organization's membership grows although, since they are not received until after new members join, they cannot be used to fund expansion, observes Tom Lenz, Executive Director, Lake County Sponsors. They represent the highest possible degree of ownership by the members of the organization, and therefore don't just fit in with but also reinforce core organizing values. And dues also indicate the highest possible degree of authenticity to the outside world, leading to better traction with powerful actors in the public arena. Once in place and assuming that the organization is successful and also conscientious about accompanying dues requests and renewals with its other organizing work, dues income can go up indefinitely. No wonder that so many of our respondents described their efforts to increase dues income.

    Renee Brereton, Community Organizing Grants Manager for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, pointed out that institutional dues and individual dues work differently and carry different implications for the organizations that are built around them. She observes that institution-based organizations can generally raise a higher proportion of their incomes from dues than can individual dues-based organizations; our data analysis bore this out, finding institutional member groups raising twice the income from dues that individual member groups raised.

    Dues income: some successful practices

    What does it take to get substantial dues income? Briefly, good organizing plus commitment to ownership.

    • Bill O'Brien, former Executive Director of MOSES in Detroit, noted that "friendly competition" keeps member institutions conscientious in renewing their dues;

    • Warren Adams-Leavitt, former Executive Director of Kansas City Congregational Community Organization agreed that peer accountability makes the system work.

    • Hugh Espey, Executive Director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement noted that Board members and key chapter members are the ones who make renewal calls to its 2,200 individual dues-payers if follow-up is needed after mailed renewal notices. He states that ICCI is "relentless" about dues recruitment and renewal.

    • Madeline Talbott, Head Organizer of Chicago ACORN noted that ACORN organizers in all chapters nationwide are evaluated chiefly on their ability to sign up new members and renew them in a timely way.

    All of that said, there are some realities about dues income that must be acknowledged. It is difficult to sustain the entire budget of a staffed community organization with dues income alone. With the help of $3 million in start-up money from religious denominations, United Power for Action and Justice (UPAJ) in Chicago has sustained itself since 1998 on institutional dues alone. Now that UPAJ has established a pattern of financial independence, organizer Matt McDermott says that it could seek funding from other sources. But as far as we know, this model has not been replicated elsewhere.

    This is true in membership organizations that attract middle class and upper class people, and it is even more true of organizations whose mission is to empower lower and moderate income people. Community organizing groups don't have the advantages that religious congregations and unions -- the two types of institutions that, being entirely self-supporting, serve as models in this realm- do. Unions have the advantage of having a direct and unique impact on their members' family incomes and job security - plus often the advantage of automatic dues check off. Churches, synagogues, and mosques have the advantage of being thoroughly bound to people's family histories, ethnic identities, spiritual convictions, social lives through time, and are overall felt to be a part of their identities.

    Dues-based organizations also set themselves a challenge that has to be revisited every year, in a never-ending process of recruitment and collection of dues, then renewal the next year and every year thereafter. Dues increases may have to be debated periodically if the amount is not automatically increased through organizational By-Laws. This represents both an administrative and a political burden. Yet and still, we did not encounter any person or organization that voiced regret that they depended on dues income, and we met many who said that they wished their dues were higher, or that they did a better job of collecting them. We also encountered several organizations that had started without dues as a part of their income structures but which later decided to institute dues "midstream" because of the increased ownership and accountability that come with the experience of dues-paying. This shift was noted by institution-based organizations such as Kansas City Congregational Community Organization (which made the change when it became congregation-based in 1985), as well as individual membership-based organizations such as Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. Laura Dungan, Executive Director of Sunflower Community Action, noted that one good reason to introduce dues, for her, is that a dues-paying culture ups the commitment level of members and the quality of leadership.

    Special events

    Our analysis of CCHD grantees suggests that relatively few organizing groups host special events only to generate revenue. Long a staple of community organizations' repertoire of fundraising techniques, special events, for those who use them well, play multiple roles in the life of the organization - income source, opportunity to celebrate, "friend-raiser," public relations opportunity, etc. The real limits of special event fundraising stare community organizing in the face, however, in that the workforce for these events is the same workforce that must also do the heavy lifting in all of the rest of the organization's activities - leadership and a (usually very small) staff. Two or three special events per year seems to be the realistic limit; many stick with one large and one or two small; some do not hold any special events

    Special events generate unrestricted income, they are "high autonomy," and once established are also "high reliability." They may have substantial overhead costs, and they take a lot of time from leaders and staff. Iris Comer, Lead Organizer of the Interfaith Federation of Northwest Indiana, noted that special events, requiring as they do a large workforce and a different set of tasks, can provide an opportunity to broaden the base of the organization itself. There are extensive resources that walk an organization through the planning and execution of various kinds of special events; some of them can be found in our Annotated Bibliography.

    Raising money from members and from the community with annual dinners

    A number of organizers told us that their organizations held annual dinner fundraisers. At the formal end, these dinners feature catered food, dance music, awards ceremonies, and the opportunity for individuals or businesses to make additional donations to be designated a "benefactor" or "sponsor." More informally, they may be pot luck (featuring favorite family recipes or, especially in multi-ethnic groups, a sampling of food from several nationalities). They may include raffles, silent auctions, children's games, or any number of other "add-ons." A goal that all have in common is to attract ticket purchasers who are not members, so that income will flow into the organization without putting additional burden on the members. Even so, celebrating the organization itself and cementing intra-organizational relationships is always a top priority.


    Raising money from outsiders through activities that celebrate the local culture of the organization: Pilsen Neighbors and Brainerd Jaycees

    The really large amounts raised by some community organizations ($100,000+) through festivals, concerts, and athletic tournaments are built on creating an event that is enjoyable even for people who know little or nothing about the organization that's sponsoring it, and using standard publicity techniques to make it grow. Two good examples:

    Fiesta del Sol, run by Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC) for the past 33 years, netted $410,000 in 2004 which along with institutional dues represents the entire budget of PNCC. Carefully-trained leadership teams work on the income side (corporate sponsorships, booth sales, carnival contract) and the product side (entertainment, soccer tournament, publicity, children's activities).

    The Brainerd (Minnesota) Jaycees 15th Annual $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza ($150,000 is the value of the prizes; $253,000 was raised for a local charity). Corporate sponsorships from the sporting goods industry plus entry fees from 9,000 people who love ice fishing (and a good party with some unusual entertainment) generate the income needed to cover both. A professional events manager assists with arrangements.

    Two questions accompany this sort of event: First, is there a happy combination of opportunity, local taste in entertainment, and sponsorship connections that can make large profits possible? Second, can the organizations sustain an adequate level of focus on the event without robbing its organizing activities of attention?


    Raising money from members AND outsiders -- KCCCO's Jazz Soul of the City Jazz Concert

    Warren Adams-Leavitt described his organization's strategy around its annual Soul of the City Jazz Concert. KCCCO sees the Soul of the City Jazz Concert not only as an opportunity to raise $25,000 (and rising), but also as an action: "It's about having a profile and an image in town." Jazz' deep roots in Kansas City; the fact that jazz is crossover music that allows the organization to approach its own multiracial membership and also wealthy white people as well as African-American businesses; and the fact that sponsorships require strategic nurturing in order to grow all add up to an event that stretches the organization in new directions.

    Organizers who succeeded with special events did not think events planning required any uniform set of skills or attitudes; several did note, however, that special events do not show their best profits until they have been underway for several years. That means that patience and the ability to commit resources that won't pay off right away are prerequisites.

    Donations from individuals and local businesses

    Income from donations is the type of fundraising that was most frequently mentioned as promising in terms of growth potential, by a wide margin. For good reason: organizers understand that this is "where the money is" in the charitable giving universe. Whether in the form of donations from members who are already paying individual or institutional dues, donations from non-members, donations from upper middle class or wealthy individuals, ad books, or donations from businesses, large numbers of organizers, network leadership, funders, and trainers identified individual donations as the technique to focus on.

    A substantial number of community organizations of all types - independent, single-issue, identity-based, geography-based, network-affiliated, multi-issue, faith-based, in all regions of the country have already experienced success with individual donations programs, ranging all the way up to $200,000 per year of unrestricted income for a large, multi-issue institution-based organization in a major metropolitan area. Another substantial number is embarking on this type of fundraising with a high degree of confidence that their initial efforts will pay off. Several that we interviewed, especially those that operate at the state or national level, include specific efforts to approach and get contributions from major donors. In addition, the free-standing training institutes and independent trainers that we interviewed all place major emphasis on building individual donations programs as the primary way for social justice organizations to attain independence and increase their incomes. Finally, according to the 2000-2002 CCHD grantee income reports, all of the major organizing networks have at least one affiliate that uses individual donations as part of their fundraising strategy, and three of them have large numbers of affiliates who emphasize this practice.

    At the same time, individual donations programs done by community organizing groups need to look quite different from those done by traditional nonprofits and especially large institutions like hospitals and cultural programs. The main difference is that they start by asking those who are already close to the organization (or in it), or who have a stake in the community. Then by creating a ripple effect of contacts, they move outward until they reach potential donors who are not from within the community and have no concrete stake in it; the outer "rings" of donors may end up being people of wealth or businesses located outside the area where the organization is particularly active - or they may not.

    Several highly successful individual donations programs that we heard about make no particular effort to reach out to the wealthy; instead, they work to merit relatively large donations from people of moderate income. Others have ended up getting large donations from high-net-worth people, along with donations from the middle and lower-income ranges. The element that they all stress is that giving must start with those who are actually in the organization, and with their friends, relatives, and associates.

    Individual donations: the importance of frequent and multiple communications with donors

    The executive directors and other fundraising staff that we interviewed emphasized the importance of face to face relationship building in cultivating donors, reinforcing the primacy of relationships in organizing in their fundraising efforts. But they use effective written communications - letters, newsletters - as well. The basics: 1) communicate regularly and frequently with donors, and 2) engage leaders, staff, and members in donor communications. Our interviewees:

    • had Board members, other leaders, and staff contribute names to their mailing lists and write personal notes on the letters;
    • arranged phone banks of leaders to make follow-up phone calls;
    • planned campaigns where letters were followed up by visits;
    • mailed in-house whenever feasible to involve members of the organization in the process.

    Many interviewees emphasized the need to communicate with direct-mail donors throughout the year with newsletters, action alerts, and other high-quality information. Michelle Niemier, Executive Director of United Seniors of Indiana: "Our excellent, 6-times yearly newsletter is crucial in maintaining interest and commitment."

    Interfaith Worker Justice Development Director Tina Herpe carefully develops written and personal communications to "upgrade" donors (increase the amounts they give):

    We move people from small givers to more substantial givers through personal contact. The list of all donors to the Annual Fund is thought of as the list of "who's out there, and who's willing to give to us." But the solid relationships are with the larger givers. Anything face to face will be more powerful.

    Note that using letters to contact potential and former donors is not synonymous with "direct mail." Larger, single-issue-oriented organizations may use standard direct mail techniques (buying lists of people who've given to similar organizations, hiring professionals to write the appeal, creating external incentives, etc). Smaller, geographically-based organizations create smaller mailing lists where almost everyone on the list has a personal connection to someone already involved in the organization. The letter itself is used mostly as a timing device for an asking campaign and as a context-setter for the in-person ask.


    Meeting with CEOs to solicit contributions

    Organizations that have truly merged organizing with fundraising, particularly geographically based ones, also use a specific tactic with corporate CEO's. Instead of sending a letter and asking for a small or medium-sized donation, many institution-based organizations coach their leaders to set up appointments over the phone and meet with CEO's to garner substantial contributions from corporations. The aim is to develop a relationship with the CEO based on mutual understanding of each other's power and ability to make an impact in public life. All of the institution based networks use this method; NTIC affiliates also relate to financial institutions in this way. The face-to-face aspect of meeting with corporate leadership is especially valued. Often, organizational leadership sets a minimum donation level, below which they will not accept.

    Rev. Robert Owens, Executive Director of Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT)in Louisville: "You're confronting a powerful person face to face, which really does enhance leadership skills."

    Individual donations programs, when conscientiously maintained, grow steadily. We did hear of some that faltered or shrank over time, but in each instance the reason was failure to maintain effort. Since the willingness to give is based partly on the mission and reputation of the organization, but partly on the strength of the relationship between the asker and the giver, there are at all times two motivating forces pushing the askee to give (or give again or give more).

    Within the overall category of individual donations, there can be a great deal of flexibility to allow an organization to play to its strengths and downplay its weaknesses. For example, an ad book campaign is really a campaign to get businesses to donate money to the organization. Members and leaders who are new to asking, however, feel more comfortable if they can frame the "ask" as a request to buy advertising, and they like that they have the ad book to show the askee. House parties are a way to divide roles: one person can be the host, another tells the story, a third makes the pitch, and others may do follow up. Some asking is done in connection with special events, while some giving is in the form of mutual commitment, as when the Board and staff of an organization pledge to each other that they will all give personally significant donations to their organization. Walkathons are really a way to give active members an excuse to ask their friends and relatives for money. Fundraising letters followed up by phone calls are an economical use of leaders' time. And so on. Given sufficient training and in an environment of high expectations, many organizations are then able to skip the "training wheels" of building donations around a product (such as an ad book) or event (such as a banquet) and move directly to plain solicitation of donations, if they wish.

    Individual donations certainly pose no threat to organizing values and, to the extent that the donations come from inside the community whose interests are represented by the organization, they reinforce those values through demonstration of commitment and ownership. Donations from local businesses do the same. Many organizations also see donations from wealthier individuals and from businesses outside the community as fitting in well with organizing principles. This is because when leaders expand their confidence and "reach" by negotiating donations, they are undergoing a developmental step. This process contributes to the organization's standing as an entity that pursues all sorts of relationships in order to move a community-driven agenda forward. John Calkins, Executive Director of Direct Action Research and Training, states that DART affiliates' Annual Support Drives, when they approach downtown corporations, are

    Setting up a power relationship that is based on mutual respect with an economically powerful entity. It's a fundraising activity but also a lesson in how to portray the organization and in how to relate to power people.

    Many respondents specifically stated that their organizations would do this kind of fundraising for the education in power, alone, that it provides.

    Ethical conflict was not identified as a problem by any of our respondents that do donation-based fundraising. Leaders of organizations are very clear on what sorts of people and businesses might not be ideal to approach (although the reality is that most would gladly take any money they could get, and then not be influenced by it).

    The fact that community organizations do not have to compete with each other for individual donations actually carries two advantages with it. First, there is the sense that each potential donor can give a clean "yes" or "no" unaffected by the budget or categorical limits that cause foundations to reject proposals from qualified organizations. Second is the fact that cohort-based training and peer support are much easier (and in fact preferred - see below section on training) because trainees are not in competition with each other.

    Administrative efficiency, on the other hand, was the most-frequently identified practical challenge that has to be met. Specifically, tracking and renewing a large number of small-to-medium donations calls for use of a good database, and for the staffing to keep up with information flow. All of the organizations we interviewed who did successful individual donations fundraising have invested in such a database - if not at the inception of their donations programs, then fairly soon after so that they would not lose important information on each individual's giving history, membership status, other organizational activity, potential for upgraded giving, contact person within the organization, etc.

    The existence of a donations program also requires organizations to devote some time and attention to communications with the givers - thank you letters, newsletters, invitations to major events, etc. and this adds another set of administrative tasks.

    These additional information-management and administrative tasks do seem to lead to different staffing patterns in some of the organizations that do donations programs.

    The fear of "strings" being attached if the donation is large seems to be a reasonable one - there is, after all, a quid pro quo involved in many very large donations to universities, cultural institutions, large advocacy organizations, and so on. Sandra Mikush of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, asserted that:

    You have to reinvent fundraising for organizing when you approach major donors. Parts of (mainstream) fundraising is consistent, for instance, annual giving is very similar to organizing. But for major donors and planned gifts, there can be a disconnect. Tactics like honoring major donors at various giving levels can fly in the face of democracy."

    Two respondents -- Larry Kleinman of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN); Anne Ladky of Women Employed - observed that, fortunately, the culture of community organizing seems to attract donors who don't want to be catered to, don't want special recognition, and in fact actively prefer that their donations be used only to further the work of the organization, which they understand to be not about their own ideas but about the members.

    While larger donors may be recognized in print or at awards dinners (along with other members and allies who have contributed to the organization's success in other ways), we heard of no instances of "cumulative recognition" or other burdensome and potentially distorting attention being paid to larger donors. Donor cultivation, in the community organizing context, then, turns from an exercise in schmoozing and stroking donors and potential donors to a more transparent relationship that is closer to honest communication and persuasion. Every organization has to decide for itself what exact boundaries it will create to maintain integrity in these relationships; the process is harder for some than for others. In any case, truly large donations (over $5000) are fairly rare in community organizing, so the issue does not arise all that frequently.

    Individual donations (including business donations), while seen as the most promising source of future income for community organizing, are also seen as the most demanding in terms of the need for attitude changes and shifting of resources. A phrase that was used repeatedly in our interviews about donations was the need to develop and nurture a "culture of asking." Dennis Quirin of Californians for Justice, Michele Mattioli of the Virginia Organizing Project, and Sonya Garcia of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training all referred to this necessity in these exact words. Peter Phillips Executive Director of Federations of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS) in Orlando called it a "culture of responsibility." Laura Dungan of Sunflower Community Action said that it's important "not to assume that anyone would NOT want to give." It's also important, said several, to start by making sure that the leadership and active members of the organization give first. It is difficult to ask for money for the support of an organization if you have not yourself given.

    Asking for donations that are substantial (for the individual or business being asked) takes most members and leaders (like most humans) outside their comfort zone and into a realm where it is all too easy to feel apologetic, unequal, and subservient. Kim Klein, consultant and publisher of Grassroots Fundraising Journal, who has trained nonprofits on how to ask for individual donations for years, states that in the realm of fundraising (and fundraising alone), many social change organizations present themselves as powerless and pitiful - a role they reject in every other aspect of their organizational existence. On the positive side, Jeff Bartow, Executive Director of the Southwest Organizing Project in Chicago, noted that faith-based organizations could have an advantage in this type of fundraising because they are rooted in cultures of giving.

    So there has to be substantial and continuing work to counter the fear, reluctance, procrastination, and excuses that are so prevalent when most of us try to take these first steps in asking. In addition, there must be commitment at the top, extensive conversation around the role of money in pursuing the organization's work and the need for much of that money to be renewable and unrestricted; willingness and ability to enter into a fairly extended time frame during which effort and resources will be spent long before big returns can be expected; the opportunity to practice specific situations and roles in the asking process - all are necessary ingredients in individual donations fundraising. Peter Phillips observed that it takes a mature organization to have a level of leadership that can accept and rise to these challenges. Mature in this instance does not necessarily mean old, but rather that the organization has developed an ethic of responsibility among the leadership.

    On top of these planning and cultural considerations, there is also the need to make room within the organization for some serious attention to information management - whether the creation and maintenance of detailed files on large business donations, or using a database in the case of large numbers of smaller donations. These requirements also lead to the need to consider different staffing configurations. (Please see sections on staffing and on technology.)

    Finally, we need to highlight a reality that we heard repeatedly: that poor people can and will give to organizations that they're active in or that benefit their communities. Sonya Garcia says that organizers often feel guilt over asking poor people for money. She tells them that they need to get past the guilt, assume that lower income people will make the same rational yet values-directed choices about giving that everyone else does, so that people can have ownership of the their organizations and have reciprocal relationships with the organizer and with outsiders. The legacy of Cesar Chavez and the United Farmworkers of America, the success of ACORN in recruiting members who commit to dues of $120 per year, and the long history of sacrificial giving to the Civil Rights movement in poor communities in the deep South all bear witness to the same reality. And, as former organizer Todd Dietterle of Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies and Former Vice President, Woods Fund of Chicago says, you just have to "get past the idea that there's no money in poor communities."

    Earned income

    We reported in Section 1 that earned income - the sales of goods and services - supplies unrestricted income to a significant number of community organizing groups. As we discussed earlier, contract income - fees for services provided an outside entity such as a government agency, financial institution, union, or other nonprofit - is a major source of such earned income. (Please see that earlier discussion for examples of earned income via government contracts.) Contract income is sought when the work fits in well with the organization's mission and goals.

    Consulting income: Kansas City Congregational Community Organization

    Kansas City Congregational Community Organization raises up to $40,000 per year through consulting provided by its staff to various other local organizations who respect their organizational development knowledge and skills. KCCCO organizers have assisted a community policing agency, the local Catholic diocese, the PICO National Network, and an Investment Commission. Former Executive Director Warren Adams-Leavitt advised that KCCCO only accepts consulting contracts that further its mission and deepen necessary relationships.

    Steve Kest, Executive Director of ACORN:

    We (ACORN) have found service delivery can generate new funding sources, e.g. going door to door helping people file for earned income tax credit. Funders who won't support our core programs, like United Way, are glad to support this work. We did a pilot of this in 4 cities last year and will go to 25 next year. It benefits both our fundraising and our membership.

    Many would say that the Get Out The Vote money that many community organizations received during the last election period amounts to earned income -- although as Renee Brereton noted, the cyclical availability of that money creates a "ping-pong" effect that has not yet been tamed by any organization she is aware of. When unions and community organizations are partners in issue campaigns, the unions have been willing to support the community organizations with money for staffing and other expenses to balance the community organizations' contribution of leader involvement and the ability to turn out large numbers of people in public meetings. This dynamic has been in play during Living Wage campaigns, campaigns to keep Wal-Marts out of particular areas, and various other campaigns to hold corporate employers accountable for their employment and other practices. The main concerns with contract income are mission diversion and control. See our earlier discussion of government contracts.

    Some organizations provide members with a service (for which the members pay a reduced rate) as a way of generating income.

    Earned income via member services: Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste and Idaho Community Action Network

    Pineros y Campesinos del Noroeste, an organization of migrant farm workers and tree planters in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, makes low-cost legal services focused on immigration issues available to its members. Idaho Community Action Network provides, as a benefit of membership, a food program available only to members that generates income itself; these arrangements definitely lead to the ability to charge membership dues and to the substantial size of the membership.

    ACORN is able to set its annual dues at a very high rate partly because of the opportunities that it can offer members for participation in housing-related and credit-related programs, plus occasional opportunities for employment through contract projects.

    Other income sources

    We asked organizers and fundraising staff about a long list of revenue strategies, derived from the fundraising literature. Three presently seldom-used strategies seem to have more potential than others in the list for growth. They are:

    On-line fundraising

    On-line giving, to the extent that it can contribute resources to community organizing groups, would be both high-reliability and high-autonomy. In the form of random donations generated by an effective website, it would not demonstrate or increase ownership by members, but neither would it threaten that ownership. In the form of e-mail appeals to members or past donors, it would demonstrate the same level of ownership as traditional donations do. A high proportion of community organizations that have websites, include an on-line donation feature (although none that we spoke to reports more than a few donations so far). Many of the experts and organizers whom we interviewed expressed fascination with the possibility of raising substantial income on-line, but none felt that they were anywhere near attaining that goal. See the section on Technology (pp.79-84) for a discussion of the reasons why few community organizations raise a lot of money on-line. Remember, also, that on-line giving (along with other uses of the Internet) is developing at such an explosive pace that in a few years community organizing groups may be in a position to garner significant income from it.

    Workplace giving

    Workplace giving is a funding mechanism that is in transition from the old United Way dominance (which is fading as overall participation in United Way drives is also shrinking) to a more varied collection of Combined Campaigns, alternative workplace giving federations, and special purpose workplace giving funds. In some regions, and at some times, community organizing groups have received funding from their local United Ways; at other times United Ways have directed their resources almost entirely to service delivery agencies; application and reporting requirements for United Way funding, even when streamlined to meet the needs of membership organizations, have often been a deterrent to organizing groups.

    The concept of donor choice, which drives all of the newer workplace giving vehicles (and which is even being adopted by United Way) has resulted in the Community Shares movement, the Union Community Funds being started from coast to coast, and the idea that groupings of social justice-oriented nonprofits who cooperate to offer donor-directed giving programs to employers may be able to breathe new life into the time-honored practice of payroll deduction giving. The infrastructure to support these new giving options and which is desperately needed in order to create enough visibility and momentum to bring them to scale, is only now being created and adequately funded.

    The intricacies of whether and how to invest time and resources into building a local or regional workplace giving program are beyond the scope of this report. We have seen instances of community organizations raising $12,000 to $36,000 per year through workplace giving, and we believe that if brought to scale, some could raise a multiple of that. However, this movement is still at a very early stage, and unless community organizations find themselves in an environment where a Community Shares affiliate or similar vehicle is already in operation and looking for new partners, it is probably not a viable fundraising option for them. On the other hand, Mike Doyle, Executive Director of Community Shares Illinois, told us that the long-term outlook is bright: donations income to CSI has been growing, on average, by 10% per year, even before the initiation of media outreach to improve visibility of, and knowledge about, alternative donor-directed workplace giving. Those who are interested in exploring this emerging field can start at the website of the National Alliance for Choice in Giving: or find out about the Union Community Fund at

    Bequests and Planned Giving

    In order to be a real candidate for planned giving income, a nonprofit must have attained at least the appearance of permanence. That many community organizations have done so is attested to by the fact that they have received at least a few donations through bequests. Almost none that we interviewed, however, had any active program to encourage and increase planned giving.

    Several of the interviewees mentioned this type of income as one that should be addressed and developed more. Opportunities vary according to the type of organization: Interfaith Worker Justice has involved many older people who were union activists in the 30's, 40's, and 50's. They don't have lots of money, but may want to leave some of what they do have to organizing that strengthens the labor movement. Two new Interfaith Board members are committed to increasing the number of such bequests to the organization through the "Egan Interfaith Fund for the Future," a vehicle for approaching people about naming Interfaith Worker Justice in their wills. Interfaith is also using Tribute Cards, a long-time practice in the labor movement through which a person may arrange for cards to be distributed at her or his wake/funeral. These cards request that donations in the person's memory be directed towards a named organization.

    Because of the types of groups that said they are (or were named to be) exploring or experimenting with planned giving - Save Our Cumberland Mountains, United Seniors of Indiana, PICO National Network, Peace Action, Virginia Organizing Project, Interfaith Worker Justice and others - we realized that organizations that already have methods for entering into donor-donee relationships with their members and others are more likely to be thinking about bequests - it is much easier to ask someone who is already giving to the organization, to consider making a planned gift.

    We found few to no examples of the following revenue strategies among the organizations of the individuals we interviewed, and little enthusiasm for their potential to build organizing:

    Capital campaigns

    Capital campaigns run by community organizing groups seem always to be aimed at buying a building so as to lower occupancy costs. We were told of several successful such campaigns, some of them spurred by the opportunity to buy an especially desirable building that was being offered at a low price.


    Endowments, like bequests, are built on the perception of solidity and permanence. Because they are built with promises today for very large gifts that may not be spent for ten, twenty, or fifty years, endowments also require that the organization have a visible and well-known physical plant, an enduring program such as education or health care, and/or several generations of well-respected leaders and staff, according to fundraising expert Joan Flanagan. Failing that, some organizations succeed in raising endowments because their missions are stable even without a location to point to. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, is seen as the guardian of the Bill of Rights; the Girl Scouts of America stands for the full development of girls as equal participants in all part of society; the United Negro College Fund represents better access to higher education for lower-income African-American students. Because these "stories" are well-known and enduring, endowment donors can feel confident that the money they pledge today, though it may not be used for 20 years, will be used in substantially the same way as it would be if spent now. Because of this perception and dynamic, community organizing groups do not seem like good candidates to raise money through the creation of endowments. The few endowment funds we heard about are growing very slowly. This is not to say that community organizations can't build up savings accounts or other reserves, just that they are unlikely to be able to use the desire to build up an income-producing corpus as an inducement to donors to give.

    Cultivating Investment Advisors

    "The issue is access." - Ron White, President, Building Utopia.

    In recent years financial and investment advisors have emerged as brokers and advisors in the charitable giving of their wealthy clients. Several high-profile investment funds, such as Fidelity, have widely advertised their services (including their ability to help clients give money in ways that benefit their tax positions), and there is growing awareness that these advisors also provide their clients with advice on charitable options. There has even been created a group of intermediaries that exist to maximize donor advantage in the timing and allocation of these resources. Donor-advised funds in community foundations can be included in this category of giving vehicle.

    This being the case, we were asked at the beginning of this study to find out how these advisors can be approached and/or influenced to include community organizing and other social justice programs in the information they provide for their clients. The short answer is, they can't. While these advisors do provide advice to their clients, that advice has much more to do with the mechanics of giving than with the merit of any particular type of recipient.

    According to Ron White, who has done research and writing on possible strategies for accessing these donors, intermediaries that are set up to help donors get started in philanthropy do not generally "school" those donors in the sense of advocating for any particular type of activity to be funded. We were told by several additional knowledgeable interviewees (Iris Krieg, President of Iris Krieg and Associates, Betsy Brill, Founder and President of Strategic Philanthropy, and Lisa Tracy, Founder of Philanthropy Vision) that investors may want their advisors to gather information, but they do not want to be told which organizations merit their philanthropic support. Moreover, they want above all to be insulated from direct or even indirect requests from grant- or donation-seekers, and their advisors take this desire very seriously.

    Andrew Hastings is Vice President of the National Philanthropic Trust, one of the intermediaries described above. He stated:

    Typically, nonprofits cannot apply for grants from donor advised funds, such as National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), for support. The issue is that donors make grant recommendations to charities that interest them. Our institution verifies that the charity they intend to support is legitimate, and it is for a legitimate charitable purpose. Since our founding in 1996, we have only received a handful of inquiries from donors seeking information on where they should donate their funds. Our donors already know which charities they intend to support, NPT helps to make their charitable giving simpler, more meaningful and effective.

    Betsy Brill does see some opportunity for carrying the message to wealth-holders if it is done by pursuing existing relationships. She advises that:

    CBOs should start seeing advisors as part of their stakeholder community. Look first close by - like at their own board. Are any Board members lawyers? Do Board members know lawyers or bankers or investment people? Ask that person to bring together a handful of people who advise the wealthy. Engage that small group to reach out more broadly.

    Brill also suggests

    . . . for financial advisors, target those who represent themselves as socially responsible investors. They are logical allies. There is a national association of these firms.

    And, she notes, some wealthy donors who are interested in social change are already clustered around the alternative community foundations that recruit them as donors and as leaders, and around Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

    The pitch to this sort of philanthropic intermediary, says Ron White, can't be made by individual community organizations, who would be seen as cultivating specific grants, but rather would have to be done by networks or other organizing intermediaries. It would need to be made on the level of, "we want to offer your clients an experience where they will see a different world through the eyes of those who live there, and a serious political analysis based not on theory but on real life."

    Brill's and White's emphasis on working through existing relationships was seconded by the only two interview subjects we had who said that their organizations had received money through an investment firm or a donor-advised fund; in those instances, the donors were already connected to the organizations.

    So paying a great deal of attention to the specific vehicle of investment accounts may be putting the cart before the horse. Most democratically-run, grass roots groups would, instinctively, gravitate towards developing relationships with wealthy, progressive people in or near their communities on a level of values and support for community involvement in decision-making and resource allocation, approach those people for donations, and not worry about whether the donation came through an investment firm account, or a checkbook. The concept of trying to tap a money source just because it's there is a little like wanting to have the contents of Fort Knox: wishing it doesn't make it so.

    Cause related marketing or social venture partnerships

    We did hear, many times, about successful recruitment of corporate or business sponsors or underwriters for individual events, but we did not hear of efforts to tie the names of the nonprofit and the for-profit together over time.

    Linked Development agreements

    Linked development agreements, another income-generating practice that we were advised might be worth investigating, also did not appear in our interview results.

    Class Action lawsuits

    Class action lawsuits do indeed sometimes result in income for local or regional organizations; however, they are not predictable, can't be planned for, and therefore do not figure as an active strategy for any of the organizations we came in contact with.

    Lastly, the following two resource strategies seem to be of diminishing importance and effectiveness in supporting organizing:


    Although door-to-door canvassing (by paid canvassers) is still done by a large number of organizations, especially statewide coalitions and single-issue organizations, the actual income that is received at the door is no longer enough to make canvassing profitable. Rather, canvassing is done in order to create a higher profile for a particular issue or set of issues, or to identify people who respond positively to the organization; after the initial contact they are renewed by telephone call, a much cheaper method of soliciting donations. We were told repeatedly that only environmental organizations can actually do better than break-even at the door, except in a very few localities.

    Direct Mail

    The volume of direct mail appeals has decreased considerably in the past several years. Fundraising letters sent to huge lists of people who may or may not be interested in the issues that are being highlighted, are no longer providing adequate returns. And this type of high-volume approach was never feasible for community organizing groups in the first place. Instead, smaller, more carefully chosen lists are developed with the help of the leaders of the organization, and they are accompanied by personal notes, followed up by personal phone calls or visits, and in other words function more as a door-opener than as an actual request.

    In conclusion, organizations put together patterns of funding sources that are shaped by their structure, organizing tradition, local philanthropic resources, and more. These patterns arise in part by intention, and sometimes by default. Organizations also, oftentimes, try to alter the proportions of those patterns to raise needed money and also in to increase their autonomy, stability, and consonance with their values. And that brings us to look at revenue-generating activities for community organizing through a second lens: that of overall fundraising effectiveness.

    Strengthening Organizing Fundraising Capacity

    One axiom in the organizing field is that power building is about "organized people" and "organized money". One of the most common themes we heard in our study is that the organizing field pays far more attention to the former than the latter. But we also learned that this state of affairs is changing, thanks to the hard work of many of the people we talked with.

    How community organizations typically raise funds

    According to the 100+ organizers and organizing observers we interviewed, the burden for revenue generation typically falls on the director of the organization. This person also is responsible for all other aspects of building the organization as well as for pursuing its organizing campaigns. This person, if s/he is lucky, may have had perhaps several hours of training on fundraising as part of his/her basic organizer training. S/he has entered the organizing field because of his/her passion about organizing people. Not surprisingly, many directors take the path of least resistance approach to fundraising, focusing on grants, dues that for many organizations are quite minimal, and perhaps an event or small donations campaign. Few organizing nonprofits are large enough to have staff fundraising specialists: of 202 CCHD grantees studied, only 28 had a specific budget line for staff with specialized fundraising responsibility.

    In the course of interviewing dozens of community organizers (mostly Executive Directors) to find out what fundraising looks like from their perspectives, however, we encountered dozens of organizations that go far beyond the bare bones income generation activities pictured in the paragraph above. We found many organizations that raise 20 to 35% or more of their income from dues; we found even more that raise a majority of their income from a combination of dues, local donations, and other "hard" money; we found some intriguing new ideas in the realm of grantseeking; and overall, we found a high degree of interest in and commitment to integrating fundraising and organizing so that they strengthen each other instead of competing with each other.

    Barriers to effective fundraising and capacity building

    We discovered in the course of the interview process that asking first about barriers to effective fundraising helped respondents think through more clearly what would help them increase their fundraising effectiveness. Responses to this barriers question were plentiful and rich, falling into three themes:

    • Organizers' and leaders' attitudes and expectations;
    • Resource constraints; and
    • Technical constraints- skills and technology primarily

    Attitude/expectation barriers

    Organizers and organizing experts mentioned "mindset" barriers to effective fundraising more than any other.

    Attitudinal and expectations barriers mentioned by study respondents
    (70 total responses)

    • Failure to view "organizing money" as part and parcel of organizing: 14 responses
    • Discomfort/anger at foundations/wealth: 13
    • Failure to be strategic: 12
    • Fear, inertia, avoidance, procrastination: 9
    • Pull of issue campaigns: 6
    • Beliefs that "organizing is supported by foundations" or foundations are easier: 5
    • Failure to require accountability for FR: 5
    • Failure to recognize there is money in poor communities and/or that members should own the organization: 3
    • Feel that fundraising is "beneath" them: 3

    The failure to see fundraising as organizing was a key theme, particularly of observers of organizing. Some illustrative responses:

    Ken Rolling, Director of Parents for Public Schools: "The mindset. It's not seen as organization-building."

    Jody Kretzmann, Founder and Co-Director of Asset Based Community Development Initiative (ABCD): "If you see the work in old organizing tradition as made up of organized people and organized money, they see their world just as organized people."

    Frank Sanchez, Senior Program Officer of Needmor Fund: "It's funny; the focus on building and nurturing relationships in organizing doesn't translate to fundraising."

    Chuck Shuford, Director of State Strategies Fund of Proteus Fund: "To me, it's part of leadership development. Fundraising really is an organizing task."

    Some respondents described their emotions about fundraising -- anger and fear - as limiting their overall fundraising efforts:

    I've thought a lot about this < barriers to fundraising effectiveness >. It is FEAR, on the part of both leaders and organizers. Leaders' fear is of the same sort that makes them afraid to be leaders. Organizers' fear is that they won't be successful; this leads to paralysis. - Cindy Bush, Interfaith Federation
    There's class anger and race anger. Going to foundations muffles this anger - they are one step removed from personal requests, and a bit 'antiseptic.' Organizers . . . sometimes actually fear power, and fear wealthy people. - Josh Hoyt, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
    There's a deep down ambivalence and skepticism that there will be a real base of support. - Seth Borgos, Center for Community Change
    You find out it's about how individual staff or leaders feel about money, their comfort level in asking for it. Those who think about 'seeking your investment' in the work rather than 'begging' for money are more successful. There's a lot of personal stuff. They don't want "charity." - Hubert Dixon III, Center for Community Change

    And some respondents observed how little accountability and how few incentives are placed on organizing for effective fundraising.

    There's no institutionalized incentive system, recognition for fundraising success in the organizing world. No rewards for being good at the money part. How can networks lift up, celebrate best practices in fundraising? You get credit for turnout, for victories, not fundraising. - Jody Kretzmann
    We don't give people the same rewards for fundraising accomplishments as for organizing accomplishments. - Burt Lauderdale, Executive Director of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

    Resource barriers

    Resource barriers - time constraints, insufficient funds to hire staff fundraisers, access to funders/donors, and so forth - were mentioned 42 times in our interviews:

    Resource barriers mentioned by study respondents
    (42 total responses):

    • Time constraints: 16 responses
    • Long time frames required to get significant local fundraising undermined by staff deployment, tenure, and transition issues: 13
    • Not enough money/lack of infrastructure for effective fundraising: 6
    • Few foundations in rural areas or the Deep South: 5
    • Poor access to knowledgeable people: 2

    "Time" was mentioned more frequently as a serious fundraising barrier than any other resource, and this barrier is twofold: too many competing demands on the director's time, and the fact that effective fundraising is a long term process in a field short term in focus and incentives:

    Directors take on too much. Things move at a fast pace; you want to win on issues. Staff turnover becomes another barrier: some directors keep fundraising knowledge and relationships a secret from others so, with turnover, it's lost. - Joe Mariano, Executive Director, National Training and Information Center
    Most Executive Directors have impossible jobs and the level of staff capacity doesn't match demands. You can get inexperienced staff to get good at just a few things - leadership development, mobilization. But given the thinness of talent and high level of turnover, it's hard to develop multiple levels of skills. So they gravitate to foundations since the front end investment seems lower. - Seth Borgos

    Technical barriers

    Lastly, 21 responses about barriers can be classified as "technical," or skills related:

    Technical barriers mentioned by study respondents
    (21 total responses):

    • Not enough training that's extended, followed up, includes mentoring: 9
    • Failure to frame organizing in ways appealing to funders: 6
    • Failure to document/evaluate activities: 4
    • "Typical" fundraising methods don't work for community organizing: 2

    Some responses:

    There is no systematic process for doing it. There needs to be a curriculum. Training tends to be one-shot, not sustained over time. The combination of basic training and consultants to assist with it on an ongoing basis is needed. In national groups, they come up with new ways to fundraise, but the locals are so isolated, and they really don't learn about it from the networks. - Don Elmer, Field Organizer of Center for Community Change
    I don't know how well organizing positions their work. They focus so much on developing leaders and not enough about finding the benchmarks along the way. . . At a recent funder event, Mott staff described why they fund organizing, but organizers don't pitch funders that way. Mott told donors how to get effective, replicable work in depth - by funding organizing. - Anne Hallett, formerly Executive Director of Wieboldt Foundation

    Interestingly, across all the barriers that were identified as impeding the ability of community organizing to improve its learning about fundraising or its actual execution of fundraising strategies, there were none that were identified only or mainly by organizers as significant, and none that were identified only or mainly by funders, intermediaries, and other observers. In other words, those inside the field and those outside it, were in agreement.

    Overcoming/Transcending these Barriers: Promising Revenue Generation Practices Today

    When we began to brainstorm possible ideas that this piece of research could put forth and provide for community organizations to help them achieve larger, more stable income streams, there were two threads to the advice we were given by practitioners. One type of advice, given by a broad cross-section of talented organizers before we began interviewing, suggested that we create "how-to" material on the "best" events, the most powerful ways of doing direct mail, the secret to getting government funding without being overwhelmed by reporting requirements, the most efficient way to gain access to foundation funders, and so on. At the same time, we were requested to find out what fundraising technology tools were the best - down to names of specific donor management programs, best websites for learning about on-line giving, and specific hardware and software.

    A second thread developed as we began to interview people who had been identified to us as successful at creating diverse and stable income for their organizations. These successful organizers, Executive Directors and leaders had indeed wrestled with those kinds of "which type?" questions. But as we asked them how they had raised stable, unrestricted money, it became apparent that the answer to that question of "what works" was different depending on the type of organization, its location, its history, the size of its membership, and myriad other factors that all add up to the fact that there is no "one size fits all" answer to "what fundraising methods are effective?" This is an area, like so many others, where each organization must look at its own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges/constraints (the standard SWOC analysis [18]) in order to figure out what methods would be promising for it, and what technology resources could be helpful.

    We also asked these staff of organizations that raise money effectively what attitudes, structures, skills, and resources had to be in place in their organizations ahead of time in order for their fundraising programs and techniques to be so successful. And it quickly became obvious that these supporting resources were at least as important to fundraising success as the choice of any particular method or technology tool was.

    It was striking that many organizations that are successful in fundraising, when asked what they would do to improve their fundraising, responded that they would just like to do even better at the methods that are already bearing fruit for them: better recruitment of dues-paying members, more people committed to and prepared to ask for donations, more people selling tickets to special events, more relationships with businesses and corporations that yield large donations.

    The heavy emphasis that these successful interviewees put on attitude and infrastructure led us to re-frame our interview findings. Rather than try to list the "most effective" methods for fundraising, we will instead list the organizational behaviors and resources that high-performing organizations have put in place in order to support their fundraising success. Designating these as "Promising Practices" that can be adopted by any organization, we will leave it to individual organizations to figure out (in the context of an individual SWOC analysis) what specific types of fundraising activity they are currently ready to do and prepared to succeed at, and what additional types they may be able to pursue after building their infrastructure and adjusting their attitudes.

    And rather than attempt to evaluate or recommend specific information management and communications technologies, we will discuss, in the paragraphs on Technology, the steps that organizations can take to make their own decisions about what technologies to use and how to use them, in the context of their own needs and priorities.

    A few comments on the need to devote attention to infrastructure:

    They're stuck in the same ruts about what they're doing. Organizers, being jacks of all trades, don't have enough specific knowledge about how to do the public relations part and the management of time, people, money, and information that is necessary to do grass roots fundraising. - Paul Marincel Associate Director of the Gamaliel Foundation
    Executive Directors, particularly those in social justice work, struggle with a conflict between wanting to put resources into organizing vs. institution-building. That conflict pulls them in different directions sometimes -- it's different to wage a successful campaign than to market your organization; it's hard to do both. - Torie Osborn, Executive Director of Liberty Hill Foundation
    If organizers could also see the organization as the point of the work as opposed to just the change that they are making, they might relate fundraising to the broader work. - Alta Starr, Senior Program Officer of New World Foundation

    Promising Practice #1: Recognizing that organizing is fundraising, create high expectations and high accountability for building diverse revenue bases, particularly from internal sources

    Mike Miller observes in his essay "Power and Money" [19],

    The power to act independently, to engage in confrontation when confrontation is needed, depends on both large numbers of people and income raised from 'the bottom up.' While this is widely understood in theory, few broadly-based community organizations accomplish this fundraising objective in fact.

    Many organizers and organizing observers we talked with echoed this assertion, observing that clarity about ownership, responsibility for financial health, and how best to maintain autonomy are paramount to creating and realizing high expectations throughout the organization to work towards diverse funding. And, they say, accountability has to be part of the picture because the tasks involved in improving an organization's funding base can be repetitious and the actual asking that is part of so many of them is a hurdle that must be crossed many times over. Internal cultures that say that "foundations should be the main support of community organizing," or that "poor people can't pay dues/make donations" or that "fundraising is the staff's job" have to be consciously dismantled and replaced with an expectation that fundraising is everyone's job, poor people do support their organizations and help raise money for them, and foundation money is useful and appreciated, but can't be expected to support all of the community organizing that is needed in this country. All of this is easier to put in place in the beginning of an organization's life history, by far, than to try to make happen after several years of operating in a "foundations-only" state of mind.

    Build ownership for fundraising into the organization from the start
    • George Hemberger, former Executive Director of Joliet Area Church Organized Body, observed that founding leaders of an organization feel responsibility for creating something that is "theirs," and that the continuing willingness to pay dues is tied to leadership's sense that through participation in JACOB they are having an experience that is valuable to themselves and the congregations they represent.

    • John Calkins, Direct Action Research and Training, noted that its younger affiliates, created after dues became the accepted basis of membership in the DART affiliates, have higher proportions of internal income than older affiliates created without this expectation.

    Donation -based support can also be planned for from the start: in fact, DART's Louisville affiliate, CLOUT, committed to an annual Support Drive at its founding convention in 1995, ran its first drive 9 months later, and within 5 years was raising $100,000 or more per year.

    Many of our respondents cited time as a primary problem in raising diverse funds. When pressed, however, most acknowledged that this was a self-created barrier that they would prefer to spend scarce time on organizing campaigns rather than fundraising. To what extent time constraints are attitudinal, skill based (we tend to focus on what we do best), or the result of serious staffing constraints is an issue we hope organizers and networks will continue to flesh out. It should certainly be of interest that the most frequent answer to the question "what stops community organizations from being more effective at fundraising," was not "insufficient time;" it was rather "failure to see fundraising as organizing and relationship-building."

    Connect success in organizing with success in fundraising

    Effective organizer-fundraisers draw direct connections between success in organizing and success in fundraising.

    • Michelle Niemier, Executive Director of United Senior Action of Indiana, believes that USA-I's successful, phone-bank based membership recruitment, action alert, renewal, and donation program works because it firmly joins the fundraising, recruitment, communications, and action aspects of the organization. The same phone caller makes contact with a set group of members at least twice a year to get renewals, donations, action on important issues, and feedback from members.
    • Rev. Robert Owens, Executive Director of CLOUT, when asked about CLOUT's Support Drive (which raises over $100,000 each year), says: "It IS organizing," and went on to enumerate why: it's done by the leaders, they are building relationships with powerful people (CEOs), and corporate supporters are asked for political support on issues as well as for money.
    • Dennis Quirin, Director of Development of Californians for Justice, was formerly an organizer. He has never received specific training in fundraising, but finds that the skills he learned in organizer training (and on the job as an organizer) are completely applicable in fundraising and in motivating others to raise money.
    • Ken Galdston, Director/Lead Organizer of the InterValley Project, when asked what organizational strengths have been necessary for success in fundraising, named three: "good base, good leaders, wins on fresh issues." That's a pretty good definition of effective organizing, too. He says: "The best organizers love to see people in teams asking for money and getting into relationships with businesses and other institutions, hearing their stories and concerns, and building the reach of the organization at the same time as they get money."
    • Laura Dungan, Executive Director of Sunflower Community Action in Wichita, when asked what organizational strengths have been necessary to build the organization's three successful fundraising vehicles (dues, individual donations, corporate donors) said: "It's more that the 3 methods create organizational strength. All three engage more people in the organization and create new relationships."
    • Clifford Gilmore, Executive Director of Oakland Coalition of Congregations (OCC), described the interaction between OCC's organizing activities and its annual Friends of the Coalition Dinner:
      • the dollar goal for the dinner is set through a visioning process that ties programmatic goals to the money needed to achieve them;
      • the dinner is strategically timed to coincide with elections;
      • its speakers and awardees are chosen to advance strategic relationships;
      • its program highlights recent successes;
      • donations and underwriting relationships create new relationships with large and small businesses;
      • the nature of the activity requires that OCC's standing Fundraising Committee draw in all facets of the organization - Board, core teams, Clergy Caucus, and members of individual congregations that have an interest in committing a limited time to a project - to form a cohesive whole, much as the planning group for an issue campaign does.

    Note the language of the Southern Empowerment Project's website connecting organizing and fundraising: "Fundraising training: Money is power." Fundraising is not a sideline but closely tied to successful organizing. Done creatively and effectively, grassroots fundraising can energize and renew a group and deepen the commitment of its members.


    One database that tracks members and donors

    Many organizations that are effective at fundraising use a single database to track information on members (and sometimes demographic and economic information on their community) and also information on dues payment, donations, and other means of financial support. Ranging from customized Access or Filemaker Pro systems to sophisticated web-based proprietary software like e-Tapestry to self-created programs built to meet special needs, high-performing organizations are careful to make sure that those consulting the giving history of a member or donor will also be seeing all other aspects of the person's relationship with the organization, and vice versa.

    It is notable that several elements of organizational infrastructure that are especially important for organizing, are equally as important for raising money: databases that capture information about contacts; a culture of face-to-face interaction; the concept that leadership development equates to expanding one's realm of comfort and influence; the ability to tell the organization's story to a variety of audiences; insistence on accountability for commitments made; and constant attention to base-building.

    Our respondents identified several roles that networks play in helping their affiliates improve their expectations and attitudes around fundraising, ranging from agitation to including attention to fundraising in their basic leadership and organizer training. Even more respondents said that networks should provide these activities.

    Within several of the networks there are staffers and/or leaders who are known to be especially attentive to healthy funding diversification and especially good at training others. And all of the network officials we talked with seem to be taking this role seriously; many are currently strategizing on how their affiliates can achieve better revenue mixes.

    Network-created expectations and support for fundraising success

    Several community organizing networks do already have distinct cultures around fundraising that shape their expectations of affiliates and lead them to provide extensive discussion of fundraising during staff and leadership training.

    • Expectations are also expressed in the form of hands-on help - for example, according to Steve Kest of ACORN, training is built around the expectation that field organizers will meet a weekly quota of new dues-paying members; and, according to Communications Director Gordon Whitman, the PICO National Network is making available to its affiliates a uniform (and well-tested) database that can be used to track donations and manage annual fund drives; this is in addition to its annual 3-day Fund Development Conference.
    • IAF training of leaders and organizers includes focused attention to "how to think about money, how to use it, how to get it, and have it fit into your values and priorities as an organization." To the extent that the preferred funding for IAF affiliates' core budgets is institutional dues, according to Mike Gecan, IAF Senior Organizer for the Northeast, successful recruitment and successful fundraising merge into the same process.
    • The Center for Third World Organizing and the Southern Empowerment Project collaborated to form the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (now an independent organization), which focuses on teaching fundraising skills to people of color and is one of the few free-standing fundraising training resource for activists. GIFT training prioritizes individual donations campaigns.
    • The DART network directs its attention to institutional dues and Annual Support Drives, which are standardized across the network and supported by high expectations and by intensive training.
    • Gamaliel Foundation also stresses institutional dues; in addition, affiliate Presidents meet periodically to discuss network-wide issues, and expanding their organizations' ability to raise local hard money has received top consideration in these discussions, says Ann Smith, President of the Gamaliel Foundation.

    A brief word about fear as a deterrent to effective fundraising: There is, according to several of the organizers and former organizers that we interviewed, a particular dimension to the fear that accompanies beginning to ask the members of community organizations to pay dues or to make donations. As noted earlier, Seth Borgos expressed this dimension as a "deep down ambivalence and skepticism that there will be a real base of support." Paul Scully, Executive Director of the New Jersey Regional Coalition in New Jersey, stated that, sometimes, "organizers want the organization worse than members and leaders do." Knowing that their own commitment outstrips the memberships' commitment, at least at the beginning, organizers can feel that raising the money for the organization is therefore their responsibility. Or worse, that if the organization asks for money from its constituency, it will be refused. And organizers find it much harder to accept and deal with refusal from the constituency they are trying to organize, than from foundations.

    When members or community residents decline to support organizing financially, that really means that the organizing is not truly valued, and this threatens the validity of what the organizer spends all of her or his time doing; it is a rejection of the organizer's effectiveness as an organizer. When the act of asking, or getting others to ask, is this fraught with the possibility not just of failure but of rejection and de-validation, it's no wonder that crossing the threshold of asking can take on a level of burden that is nearly paralyzing.

    The good news is that the fear is almost always an unfounded one. When the organizing that's going on is effective and truly responsive to the aspirations of the community, organizations in the poorest communities, in all parts of the country, in all ethnic groups, active on all sorts of issues, DO receive substantial direct financial support from their members and communities. Americans (both native born and immigrant) have a long history of generous donation at all income levels to organizations that represent their interests, aspirations, and values. John Calkins relates that new organizers and leaders alike feel unsure and resistant about participating in their affiliates' annual Support Drives for about two years; sometime around the third year, they achieve a more comfortable attitude about asking for money and preparing others to ask for money because they have experienced success. This observation illustrates the fact that the most effective antidote for the fear of asking for money is not discussion or role-playing (though both are important) but rather asking itself. You have to start asking while you are still afraid, in order to get past the fear.

    It needs to be said that none of our informants who described the attitudinal and behavioral shifts they had had to undergo, in order to improve their fundraising, had any complaints at all about a downside accompanying those shifts. In other words, we did not hear that any organization found that it lost ground in any other area of activity because of the changes it underwent in order to excel at fundraising.

    Promising Practice #2: Commit Time: Make time for fundraising and take a long-term perspective on building a diverse revenue base

    The organizers we talked to who were noted for their success at fundraising, were very intentional about giving fundraising the time it needs - from day to day and over time. This amount of time was greater than some other organizers (and some funders) believe is appropriate. However, these high performers also got substantial organizing and leadership development traction out of the time spent on fundraising, especially non-foundation fundraising.

    Making a long-range plan

    While some Organizer-Directors acknowledged they either do not have or do not use plans, most said that they do, and that improving this process is a priority. Several high-revenue, high-revenue-diversity statewide organizations - Save our Cumberland Mountains, Virginia Organizing Project, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth - had and used 3-10 year growth plans that included fundraising. Jackie Kendall, Executive Director of the Midwest Academy, believes that creating and executing a multi-year fundraising plan is the decisive factor in successful fundraising.


    Specifying how much time will be committed to fundraising

    Gamaliel Foundation affiliates (staff and leaders alike) are encouraged to devote 1/3 of each year to recruitment, 1/3 to issue campaigns, and 1/3 to fundraising. Of the time they devote to fundraising, they are encouraged to set fundraising goals of (and build fundraising plans around) 1/3 from dues, 1/3 from other internal sources, and 1/3 from foundations. These expectations encourage a disciplined approach to fundraising among their affiliates.

    DART affiliates are required to set aside 6 weeks each year during which all other activity is put on hold while the Annual Support Campaign is conducted.

    ACORN organizer trainees know, up front, that they will be spending 5 or 6 hours a day knocking on doors to recruit new members at $120 per year in dues. Without that time commitment, ACORN chapters would have neither their substantial memberships nor their substantial dues income. In some ACORN chapters, staff also spend a significant amount of time doing door-to-door canvassing, ad sales, and individual gift solicitation.

    Sara Mersha, Executive Director of Direct Action for Rights and Equality in Rhode Island, commented that the time devoted to fundraising has to be "dedicated" time - time that's not available for any other task.

    Promising Practice #3: Add Staff Skills

    The assumption, widespread for many years, that increased staffing for fundraising is equivalent to "hiring a grantwriter," appears to be changing. While effective foundation and corporate funding proposals remain an important part of most community organizations' fundraising arsenals, Executive Directors continue to do most of the proposal-writing, and when staff are added to intensify fundraising efforts, they are increasingly likely to have broad fundraising coordination and management roles in addition to proposal writing.

    Invent and support new roles

    PICO National Network affiliates are encouraged to add the position of "Fund Developer" to their staffs; Fund Developers aim to increase foundation, corporate, individual donation, major donor, and special events income, and they do it partly by helping to increase the fundraising skills of other staff and leaders.

    In the several instances where we could identify more than one fundraising staff person (in statewide and national organizations), the senior role was that of general manager with particular responsibility for developing donations programs, with the proposal writing role assigned to a junior or part-time person.

    In many organizations, however, and particularly in many network-affiliated and/or institution-based organizations, there is limited or no particular "fundraising" staff position, but rather attention is paid to how to get all staff (and all leaders) to take on fundraising responsibilities. And this makes perfect sense if we accept that "fundraising is organizing."

    Staff and technology resources are tied together in that the changes in staff responsibilities and/or configuration that many have described as necessary to their own enhanced fundraising capacity, frequently have to do with adding technology know-how and communications capacity to their staff line-ups. Many pointed out that there needs to be room for other roles than organizer, Executive Director, and office support person in order to do successful individual donations-based fundraising, individual dues collection, or special events.

    Trainer and author Joan Flanagan highlighted the fact that most organizations of even moderate size need to have someone on staff who is the designated technology manager:

    This person must be accountable for the purchase and operation of the fundraising database, web-page, and online giving mechanisms. It is also his or her job to infect the other staff with an attitude of curiosity and creativity that will make the tech tools serve the needs of the people asking for money.

    Cris Doby, Program Officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, noted that a person with strong and diverse fundraising skills can have a hard time fitting in at most community organizing groups, but that network support for new roles and the people in them, could help. Ken Galdston, Director/Lead Organizer of the InterValley Project - and a network leader himself - has been brainstorming what some of those new roles might look like.

    These additional roles do not necessarily have to be separate people; they can frequently be more a matter of special skills development and defined and protected time from existing people, observes Cindy Bush, former Executive Director, Interfaith Federation. Of course, staffing issues are also resource allocation issues, and Sue Chinn of the Center for Community Change, consultant Kim Klein, and Paul Marincel of the Gamaliel Foundation all pointed out that in order to build a more effective fundraising program, organizations must first spend a higher proportion of their current budgets on fundraising.

    Include specifics in job descriptions

    When writing job descriptions for the Executive Director, Organizer, and Office Manager, include technology skills and experience keyed to specific tasks (planning, operating, and trouble shooting technology; improving communications capacity). When hiring, put significant weight on these factors.

    What's also important is that the leadership and staff of the organization be serious about committing that staff time and not letting it get usurped by other tasks. Staff resources of this sort can, of course, also be located at the network level - but at least some of them must be at the point of contact between the giver, member, or event-attender and the local organization.

    Promising Practice #4: Involve leadership

    Most - virtually all - organizers we interviewed who were nominated by their peers and other experts as effective fundraisers involve their leadership substantially in fundraising. This insistence, of course, fits right in with the realization that fundraising and organizing are not separate realms but rather parts of a unified whole. Frank Sanchez, Program Officer at the Needmor Foundation, said

    Fundraising can't be left just to organizers. You have to integrate the leaders, get leaders who pay attention to it. Lots of leaders are oriented only to the issues and the campaigns.

    Anne Hallett, formerly Executive Director of the Wieboldt Foundation, recommends:

    Tie it to their leadership development. Good groups see their work through the lens of neighborhood people. They know fundraising is their bread and butter, literally.

    Leaders pledge first

    The idea that leadership of an organization needs to set a standard of financial commitment to the organization was raised up by a large number of interviewees. The simple concept that you can't ask if you haven't given, common in typical nonprofits, appears to be spreading in the world of community organizing. Those who are pledging do not need to match any externally-set amount; they merely need to make a contribution that is "personally significant." Oftentimes staff also gives, for the same reason. In dues-based organizations, leaders need to take a major role in recruitment.

    When asked what organizational strengths or structures are needed to do a successful Support Drive, John Calkins, Executive Director of the DART network, replied succinctly: "strong core teams."

    Such involvement, of course, is usually a given in fundraising based on donations from businesses or individuals, since such programs can't be effectively done by a small staff. It's a given, too, in most special events, and even in many dues -based organizations where it's the actions of members in bringing potential new members closer to the organization that "seals the deal." Leaders were even mentioned by two funders - Cris Doby of the Charles Stewart. Mott Foundation and Carmen Prieto of the Wieboldt Foundation - as more effective and more convincing in telling their organizations' stories to funders, than staff can be - partly because they tell those stories in a more values-based, less process-oriented way.

    When leadership is fully involved in fundraising, staff (and the organization) benefit in a way that was strikingly expressed by Jenny Arwade, Executive Director of Albany Park Neighborhood Council: rather than spending a day with the door to her office locked while she writes a funding proposal for a foundation, she spends the day working with leaders to develop a plan for raising money through dues or special events; rather than the fundraising function working as a diversion and an isolator, it sits alongside the other work that leaders do in the organization and functions as a team-builder.

    It must be noted that leadership time, like staff time, must be consciously structured into fundraising activities. Tina Herpe, Director of Development of Interfaith Worker Justice, was careful in her interview to delineate leader time as a separate resource that must be requested, allotted, and used effectively in fundraising plans. This process is facilitated by the fact that in IWJ and its affiliates, Board members set the pace by committing in writing to specific amounts of time to be spent on various fundraising (and non-fundraising) tasks. Formal roles such as Fundraising Chair, Fundraising Committee, Recruitment Chair, and so forth, show that an organization is thinking in these terms. Renee Brereton of the CCHD is aware of a few organizations that have two fundraising committees, one for grass roots fundraising and one for foundation fundraising; she also notes that a few organizations include allies such as elected officials or academics when they meet with foundation funders.

    Promising Practice #5: Use modern technology to recruit, track, and follow up with members and donors

    Note: We came into this investigation with very little personal technology expertise. All of us have operated on a need-to-know basis in the realm of technology, and our method of investigating resources that could be useful to community organizations was simply to find and interview people who work in community organizing settings and who use databases and other technologies effectively, or are responsible for helping others use them. We also searched the Internet for websites that appeared to be user-friendly for people at our level of knowledge, and pursued links that looked interesting. We make no claim about the completeness of the resource listing at the end of this section; it is merely one version of what a moderately computer literate person, who searches for websites that connect technology usage with community organizing, would find.

    Technology is central to fundraising for community organizing in two separate ways - internal and external. The internal dimension is largely related to the use of a database to manage information about grass roots income and about potential members and/or donors. The external dimension is more about presenting the organization to the public and secondarily to the constituencies represented by the organization, in such a way as to dispose people to support/give to the organization. In 2005, the importance of databases and internal communications far outweighs that of outward-oriented websites and on-line fundraising for most community organizing groups. However, the amazingly rapid evolution of technology and the creativity of those who advance it, means that community organizing groups need to keep abreast of the field and position themselves to be able to use new developments as they occur.

    For all community organizations that expect or want to do grass roots fundraising that involves transactions with individuals - whether dues, donations, or ticket purchases - information creation and maintenance are important functions that are made much easier by the use of an appropriate data base. Since organizations also keep track of their membership information and their mailing lists through such data bases (cross-referencing it with electoral jurisdictions and other relevant geographical information, if possible), a primary task when fundraising data are to be added to the mix is to find a way to handle all of these sorts of data management needs through a unified data base.

    The external technology needs that community organizations have - those related especially to communications - center around communications with members (through telephone, newsletters, and the internet) and communications with the general public (through websites, press relations, printed materials, video productions, and the like). The vast majority of staffed community organizations has websites at this time, although most of those are very basic and consist mostly of contact information and a small amount of descriptive information. These websites are not regularly updated and often seem to be waiting for someone to take them in hand and use them more effectively. We also did not hear of any community organizations that use e-mailings to their membership lists to solicit dues or donations.

    Network-based websites are more developed, with ACORN's being a good example of a website that is regularly updated and clearly intended as a press tool and a vehicle for creating a consistent organizational message. Gamaliel Foundation and PICO use their websites both to announce major victories and also to serve as links to their affiliates' websites. These websites also have sophisticated internal communications features and provide access to many tools and resources that are helpful in organizing. The remaining network websites include, at a minimum, links to affiliates and explanations of their organizing philosophies. Given that community organizing is built around face-to-face interaction it is not surprising that extensive web-based communications between individuals is never the core of organization-building or organizing campaigns - although it is certainly an increasingly useful tool for groups of individuals that have already formed (through personal interaction) the bonds of trust that allow them to work together. The nation's recent experience with may yet press more organizing groups to experiment with web-based communications to inform and mobilize their members.

    The hope of generating substantial income through on-line donations does not appear to be a realistic one yet for community organizing groups; most have a "donate" button on their websites, but none reports more than a few donations. The reasons for this are identified in Stein and Kenyon's recent article "A Decade of Online Fundraising." [20] Briefly, community organizations do have the advocacy-oriented, even campaign-driven agendas that are part of what's needed to raise money effectively online, but they do not have the scope and scale, the access to capital, the longstanding donor bases, or the commitment to branding and marketing that are also needed. Randy Stoecker, in his 2000 article "Cyberspace vs. Face to Face: Community Organizing in the New Millennium" [21] addresses the issue of use of the internet in general, for community organizations. He ties the challenge to the two important questions of "what works" and "what scale," which always arise in organizing; and he also brings in the language of sociology to frame the use of internet communications in terms of "strong links," "weak links," and "no links." Not surprisingly in light of these requirements and constraints, it seems to be mostly the statewide or regional organizations, and the larger single-issue organizations, that are most ready to try internet fundraising either through their websites or through e-mailed requests for donations.

    Our Advisory Committee had asked us, at the beginning of this study, to try to identify a list of good technology tools -especially computer software --for community organizations to use for fundraising purposes. One of the first things we realized, however, as we began to interview Executive Directors from organizations that do successful (and diverse) fundraising, was that there can be no such list because organizations of different sizes and geographical spans, with different structures and different tasks to perform, will need different types of data bases and other software. Also, they have different levels of technology expertise and different amounts of access to advanced technology knowledge and resources through membership in networks. Moreover, even if there could be such a list it would become obsolete almost immediately.

    The primary task, then, for community organizations as they address technology acquisition issues is to define their own needs - both fundraising-related and non-fundraising-related. Only in the context of well-defined needs and well-understood limitations accompanied by a clear sense of the scope and scale of the fundraising activities that are likely to be pursued in the near and mid future, can a community organization make choices about what equipment to buy and which software to use. Fortunately, there are a number of extremely user-friendly resources designed to help community organizations understand and define their own technology needs.

    Before listing these assessment processes, though, it is important to pass on a message about technology staffing that was stated to us numerous times (even though we did not ask any question that would require respondents to address the issue). The message is that organizations (including community organizations) that want to use technology to advance their fundraising and other capacities must have someone on staff that has advanced technology skills and the ability to envision and create a good interface between the activities of the organization and its use of information technology. This person must also be authorized to dedicate at least a portion of her/his time exclusively to these issues; and s/he must have the authority to direct other staffers' use of technology if needed.

    In a local organization, the "vision" person can be an office manager with advanced technology skills; it can be a development staffer; it can be an executive director who enjoys technology and communications; it can be an organizer who divides her/his time between direct organizing and technology management. The roles can be split; one person can be the "vision" or "needs assessment" person and another can be the one who manages and performs the day to day tasks. All staff can learn to enter data. What's important is that the organization have the ability, internally, to think through technology needs on a mission- and task-based basis, to purchase or create the systems that will meet those needs, and to keep up with the workflow so that databases do not fall into disrepair. In fact, the Progressive Technology Project in its report "From Exclusion to Inclusion," [22] maintains that the presence of a technology "visionary," a continuous assessment and planning process, and access to external advice, are more important in achieving technological competence than money is. In case all of this sounds overwhelming, we encountered literally dozens of organizations that have these staff resources (either on their own or through network membership) even though they have staffs of 3 or 4 people.

    When some of these functions are provided at a statewide or network level, of course, the local affiliates are spared part of the burden of designing systems, assessing performance, troubleshooting, and so on. ACORN, where the major databases (accounting and membership) are handled centrally, has gone the furthest in this direction. PICO affiliates are fiscally independent, but the PICO National Network is preparing to offer the affiliates complete systems including a web-hosted relational database with which to address their organizing and fundraising (and other data-management) needs. The Gamaliel Foundation also has a national-level technology manager who provides templates for websites and consultation on data bases; in addition, he moderates a national-level conversation on whether and how to create a uniform database for the network.

    As you would expect, statewide organizations and coalitions are more likely to have begun to use comprehensive databases for fundraising (and other) purposes. For example, New Jersey Regional Coalition organizer Bill Beckler is also his coalition's technology expert; he has created a web-based database that captures all of the affiliates' organizing data, plus demographic and economic data used for regional equity policy work, and it can be used to manage dues renewal reminders and payments. A side effect is that access to this database is itself appealing to potential member institutions as they try to manage their own membership records and knowledge bases.

    Many community organizations, lacking this sort of in-house ability to match needs with technology resources (hardware and software alike) have been dragged into the technology-acquisition process backwards. Consultants, more knowledgeable about technology than about some of community organizing's central tasks, have been able to describe the capabilities of various types of products (if you want to apply for foundation funding, get Raiser's Edge; if you want to keep a mailing list, a customized Access application will work).

    In the course of this study and before, we have heard (from community organizations) the complaint that IT consultants "don't understand organizing." And we are sure that that's true. But it isn't the consultants' job to understand organizing; it's organizing's job to understand IT. This is because IT consultants can't provide truly appropriate and effective advice until the organization has asked itself (and answered) a number of IT systems-related questions about itself: What is the purpose of this organization? How do its various components work together? How many members must be kept track of? Are there different types of members? Will we need to track members' and supporters' attendance at events? What else do we need to do with the data base in addition to using it as a mailing list? Will the information kept in the data base have an impact on membership renewals? Telephone trees? Tracing of relationships with elected officials, business community, and ethnic associations? Giving history of members and supporters? and many more questions of this sort. All of these questions, and their answers, have implications for how the organization needs to use its database.

    The person in an organization who's responsible for the technology planning process is the one who must gather these questions, work through them with leadership and other staff, and come up with a list or statement that defines the organization's technology needs in the context of its overall functioning. This process will then have to be repeated periodically, to accommodate changing needs and evolving technology. And that brings us to the planning resources that we have been able to find. Keep in mind, too, that an organization's in-house "technology visionary" is or will be a person who can assess the usefulness of the myriad proprietary products that are available.

    Resources for Technology Use to Support Organizing Fundraising

    For familiarizing an organization with the technology resources that are available, there are several websites that, together, give a good overview of the functions that technology can perform for social change-oriented nonprofits and the resources that are available to carry out those functions, including educational and training resources. These websites link to each other extensively, and to many other resource websites as well. If a community organization is thinking about expanding its use of technology, or about being more strategic in its use of technology, a day or so spent with these websites would be time well-spent.

    Directories and Discounts -- general directory of technology resources for nonprofits; provides worksheets to use in assessing technology needs; comparisons of the products available (both proprietary and open source); and also brokers extremely high discounts for nonprofits as they purchase hardware, operating systems, and software.

    Assessment Tools - a provider of grants for technology purchase and training; training and workshops on technology use; excellent technology assessment and planning tools; addresses issues related to nonprofits' capacity to use technology. See for a very useful comparison of entry-level community organizing-oriented databases. - provides a very useful assessment tool called "Technology Literacy Benchmarks for Nonprofit Organizations" that defines what effective technology use looks like in small, medium, and large-sized organizations. - a free, on-line technology needs assessment for nonprofits

    Free databases - provides a free database called eBase designed for activist groups. - provides a free database called Organizers Database that is an entry-level product for community organizations.

    Orientation - is a website sponsored by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services to meet the needs of people working in nonprofits who do not have extensive backgrounds in technology, but are working on technology needs and issues in their organizations.

    On-Line Giving - hosts and manages on-line giving services for smaller, social justice nonprofits. Provides training and consultation on on-line giving.

    Finally, we should note that we did hear, in the course of our interviews, several stories about the use of video and PowerPoint presentations in fundraising and recruitment. These powerful tools, although they do require some skills and training, do not call for organization-wide decisions about the use of membership and donor data, and so can be used in a more case-by-case way, and using generic technical assistance from outside.

    Dues and donations payment by Electronic Fund Transfer

    Organizations based on individual membership voiced interest in dues payment systems based on EFT, such as the one used by ACORN. Once authorized in writing, EFT allows monthly deductions from members' bank accounts. EFT results in large savings on the labor required to hand-collect dues from each member each month, more-timely renewal requests, and the ability to assess higher dues because they can be paid in smaller monthly installments.

    EFT has about a 15-year track record in processing donations to a broad range of nonprofits, including social justice organizations. Bob Wesolowski is Founder and Director of Caring Habits, Inc., one of the professional service companies that set up and process EFT transactions for groups ranging in size from local food pantries to international religious orders. He states that donors whose contributions are processed through monthly EFT (bank-based or credit-card based) give twice as much per year as annual donors, and they give three times longer.

    Some of the larger donor management software products also offer the ability to process EFT dues and donations transactions, so that the entire process can be carried out in-house.

    Promising Practice #6: Intensify and re-think training


    When asked how they currently learn new fundraising techniques, organizers mentioned a variety of methods: peers, on-the-job, workshops, books (very few!), and network training. When asked how they like to learn about fundraising, 14 organizers mentioned:

    Peer learning 7 (usually face-to-face)
    Practice 2
    Coaching 2
    Hire a political fundraiser 1
    Already learning from consultants 2
    College course 1

    Fundraising training for community organizations is available in several formats: through organizing networks, through regional or issue-oriented free-standing training providers, through consultants, and through courses offered by universities and philanthropic institutions. The intensity of training available through networks varies, but all (including smaller and regional networks) appear at least able to provide training if it is specifically requested. Free-standing training institutes (often foundation-funded) have the advantage of being able to focus their attention entirely on their fundraising training, and were highly praised by our interviewees who had attended them.

    The social justice world is fortunate to have three highly experienced consultant/trainer/authors - Joan Flanagan, Kim Klein, and Andy Robinson - that understand the internal dynamics of grass roots, membership-based organizations and can tailor their work to meet the particular needs of those types of organizations. Each of these experts (and their books - see Bibliography) was recommended by several of the organizers that we interviewed. A fourth consultant, Terry Axelrod, provides a standard product which has been used by several community organizations called Raising More Money based on her book by the same title.

    We are certain that there are other consultants out there who are equally able to operate "through an organizing lens," and that astute organizers and leaders can screen potential candidates for consulting jobs with careful questioning about outlook and experience. It's also clear that several of the community organizing networks have staff that function as fundraising consultants for the affiliates because of their interest in and talent for fundraising. For advice on how to choose a fundraising consultant, see the American Association of Fundraising Counsel website's tips on "How To Choose Counsel" at Finally, there are hundreds of colleges and universities that offer courses on fundraising in their programs on nonprofit management; shorter -term courses are also available through Regional Associations of Grantmakers and sometimes through large nonprofits such as United Ways or consortiums of service providers.

    Correlates of effective training

    Interviewees who were effective at fundraising (and especially non-foundation fundraising) very frequently pointed to training experiences as important to their high performance. Respondents' reflections on the effectiveness of training, as well as available evaluations of training programs, suggest the following:

    • Isolated fundraising workshops are the least helpful type of training. This was repeatedly asserted both by community organizers and by trainers.

    • Extended training where participants convene repeatedly and receive follow-up as they embark on new fundraising activities, is much more effective. Sandra Mikush, Vice President of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, has funded extended fundraising training and she stated that the most effective learning experiences combine training and on-site support, whether peer support, coaching, or TA provided by a consultant. The Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL) has even documented the increased funding diversity achieved by the organizations that participated in a recent extended fundraising training module. Baird Straughan, Associate Director of ICL, found that participants who completed ICL's Complete Fundraiser training program increased their organizations' income by an average of 15% per year, decreased foundation and government from 72% to 52% of total income, tripled the number of major donors per organization, and increased Board participation in fundraising activities by 76%.

    • Training for several key people in an organization, as a cohort, is a better strategy than training for one person. Although harder to schedule and manage, and more expensive, this type of training was felt to lead to concrete improvements in income and in opening up of new funding streams. Several training programs that we investigated require that both Board and staff of any given participating organization attend training.

    • Peer learning is a valued component of fundraising training; one training program responded to this need by greatly expanding the monthly "check-in" section of its sessions, says Steve Lew, Fundraising Trainer, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services.

    • The best training does not initially focus on specific techniques; it rather encourages the organization to figure out how fundraising activities can be integrated into organizing, how leadership can take a big role, and how time and resources can be committed and spent. Once this "framing" training has taken place, individual learning experiences on specific skills or types of fundraising can be helpful. Institute for Conservation Leadership was aware that plenty of skills-oriented training was available for environmental organizations, and consciously planned to emphasize changes in expectation and culture when it began its Complete Fundraiser training in 2003.

    • Training in fundraising has to be firmly connected to expectations and even agitation. To this extent, training designed, managed, and followed up by networks has an advantage because of the mutual permission that organizers and leaders from within the same network give each other, to hold each other accountable for their performance in every activity. Groupings of organizations from the same region, same identity group, or same issue area can develop some of the same accountability even if they aren't linked by any formal network relationship. And of course local or state chapters of national organizations can do the same.

    • Effective training programs have dropouts. In talking to trainers whose programs consist of groupings of independent, non-affiliated organizations, we realized that most such cohorts lose participants as they proceed over time. Some organizations sign up at the wrong time, some can't develop buy-in from all the needed players, some don't commit enough time to developing their own plans, and so on. It is actually a sign of high expectations and commitment to output evaluation and accountability if organizations who can't meet those standards identify themselves as such and drop out.

    Training Resources - internal and external

    • Community organizing groups may have staff roles that are dedicated to fundraising, but they do not typically rely on those staff to do all the fundraising. Instead, these people's jobs are to plan for, manage, and provide backup for the fundraising done by leaders and other members, with assistance from other staff. Then these specialized staff members are also responsible for training the rest of the organization in the attitudes and skills they need to raise money.

    • Community organizing networks can provide training - which includes agitation, motivation, brainstorming, and specific learning opportunities for their member organizations and several of them do so very effectively. ACORN, DART, Gamaliel Foundation, and PICO are especially active both in supporting the traditional income-generating activities of their affiliates (dues, events and ad books, donations campaigns, foundation grants) and also in exploring promising new possibilities (individual donations from institutional members, on-line dues payment, contract income, grants related to activism on national issues). IAF has focused more on training organizers and leaders to structure their budgets as much as possible around institutional dues. Most network-affiliated organizations (and most network staff themselves) however, state a need for even more activity on the part of their networks to support new opportunities in fundraising.

    • There are many training resources that focus on particular constituencies, tailoring their training (which is usually extended and includes follow-up consultation) to the special conditions that apply in their areas:

    Training Programs/Resources for Organizing

    Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training:
    Trains people of color; founded by the Center for Third World Organizing and the Southern Empowerment Project.
    Address: 3035 Vallejo Street, Denver, CO
    Phone: 303-455-6361

    The Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color
    A partnership of Compasspoint Nonprofit Services and the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, in conjunction with Bay Area Black United Fund, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, Multicultural Alliance, Association of Fundraising Professionals (Golden Gate Chapter); National Community Development Institute; Northern California Grantmakers.

    Institute For Conservation Leadership - Complete Fundraiser program
    Training for environmental organizations and community organizations that take on local environmental issues, including agriculture-related.
    Address: 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 420, Takoma Park, MD 20912
    Phone: 301-270-2900

    Academy for Fundraising Training - Center for Responsible Funding: specializes in training for small and/or emerging social justice organizations
    Address: 924 Cherry Street, Suite 520, Philadelphia, PA 19107-2405
    Phone: 215-925-6140

    Southern Empowerment Project: for organizations in the Mid- and deep South. Includes fundraising training as an equal part of its organizing training.

    Like all good fundraising training, these programs address psychological and cultural barriers with the goal of getting people more comfortable with asking for money. A Google search that combines "fundraising training" + the name of any particular constituency, region, or issue area, will give access to anywhere from several to dozens of fundraising training providers.

    • Organizations that have done the preliminary work of defining their needs and committing to increasing the diversity of their income streams, can work very effectively with consultants. This gives them access to a huge array of for-profit and non-profit practitioners who can help them structure a giving campaign, design a data base, manage the follow-up activities, or whatever other organizational tasks need to be done in order to increase income. These consultants are frequently described as beneficial because they provide an external accountability mechanism to "keep our feet to the fire," and to help the organization get through a few cycles of a new fundraising activity, providing needed experience and expertise. They do not provide leadership of new fundraising activities, but rather provide coaching on structure, pacing, and consistency.

    • Many executive directors and organizers have taken advantage of specialized training available at universities, community colleges, regional associations of grantmakers, and large nonprofits. Once specific needs have been identified (in the context of which types of fundraising offer the most opportunities for growth for the particular organization), these courses can be very helpful. The most commonly taken course is a one-to-three day workshop on how to write a funding proposal for foundations; though useful, this is the one type of fundraising class that does not address building leadership capacity for fundraising, nor diversifying the range of income types.

    Promising Practice #7: Don't forget about external sources of revenue: pursue foundation and government grants effectively, recognizing their importance in supplementing internally raised funds and in building organizing effectiveness

    Few of our informants were chosen because of their effective foundation fundraising, because our focus was on finding organizations that are not highly foundation-dependent or are decreasing their foundation dependence. These few informants, however, expressed some fascinating ideas, so we pass them on. As noted above, LeeAnn Hall, of the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations (NWFCO), leads a process in which all four member organizations of NWFCO share foundation information and personal contacts with foundations. These four organizations are of the opinion that sharing, rather than competing, ultimately improves their relationships with foundations and leads to increased resources for all. Mike Kromrey, Executive Director of Metropolitan Organization of People in Denver, stated that when an organization has a solid track record the presence of a high ratio of foundation funding does not have to mean a feeling of insecurity and mistrust; it can rather indicate that both funders and organizations have taken the time to understand each other and the work that they both value. Leroy Johnson, Executive Director of Southern Echo, Inc., is trying to encourage several small community organizations in Mississippi to do their fundraising collaboratively. Finally, James Mumm, Co-Executive Director of Mothers on the Move, maintains that very effective writing skills are crucial to community organizations who approach foundations for funding; "pretty good" is not good enough in this environment.

    An additional finding of the interviews we did with organizers, funders, intermediaries, and others was that there are a few ways that community organizations could improve their approaches to foundations and, therefore, increase income from that source. Significantly, these improvements might also improve grass-roots fundraising, as they have to do with better communication of the "message" of community organizing, and therefore could have an impact on individual donations, business donations, and the like.

    First, several informants from the funding side observed that community organizing as a whole needs to be clear on the difference between foundations that fund organizing (or might fund it) because of its impact on various policy issues, versus those who fund it because it empowers particular disenfranchised constituencies, versus those who fund it because it supports democracy or civic participation in general.

    • As Leslie Ramyk, Director of the Chicago Capacity Building Initiative, commented, "Foundations that fund community organizing are more interested in process; foundations that fund advocacy are more interested in the issue."

    • A valuable conversation to have with foundations, says Don Elmer, Field Organizer for the Center for Community Change, starts with "Ask the funder, 'what do you mean by your categories? When we say community organizing, what does that mean to you?'"

    • Elmer's colleague Seth Borgos notes that "there is a feedback loop with program officers willing to tell (applicants) how to frame it."

    This sort of conversation can surface more information about why the foundation might be willing to fund organizing - whether it's because of the process, the outcomes, or the constituency.

    Secondly, several informants said that community organizing often createsproposals relying on jargon and focused on confrontation tactics rather than the power being built and the results that organizing achieves. Many proposals do not give a clear picture of what actually goes on inside a community organization. Jeanne Kracher, Executive Director of the Crossroads Fund, observed that community organizations are afraid of sounding "corporate" in how they describe their work. Hubert Dixon III of the Center for Community Change noted that community organizations do better with foundations that already fund community organizing; with those that are not familiar with organizing, "they're talking past them."

    Sandra Mikush, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation:

    The best written of any communications is to be as transparent as you can. But when a group tells you over and over again how they embarrassed a public official, that's not effective. I want to hear what it resulted in. . . Written proposals on organizing are aimed at the true believers. You have to move off that template . . .

    The "result" can be movement on an issue, or, according to Don Elmer it can be the creation of community, participation, and power where it didn't exist before - or it can be both. But the result, whether organization-building, heightened influence in the community, or success on an issue, must be documented, according to several funder-informants.

    Interestingly, when asked whether community organizing is considered to be too "radical" for most foundations to fund, a few funder informants said that they thought it was. More informants, however, said that foundations do not find organizing to be radical so much as ineffective or unpredictable. This again reflects on the issues of communications, evaluation and documentation, which several informants identified as needing attention if community organizing as a field wants to make better inroads into foundation funding (and also funding from individual donors).

    Section Three: Enhancing Grantmaking for Organizing
    by Jean Rudd

    A Picture of Grantmaker Support for Organizing from a National Database of Organizing Nonprofits*

    One of our major research interests, emanating from our own experiences as grantmakers and grantseekers in a city (Chicago) in which organizing seems increasingly reliant on foundation support, is to examine the role of foundation grants in supporting community organizing nationwide and to probe observations and perceptions about this role. We had hoped to get sufficiently detailed data that we could examine systematically foundation grants to a set of organizations over time - patterns of increases and declines, restricted vs. unrestricted, and so forth. But we could not (especially from the IRS Form 990s). So to build a picture of how foundations support organizing today, we combine a presentation of aggregated foundation, corporate, and church grantmaking to selected Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)grantees (organizing nonprofits who supplied such data with their grant applications) with opinions from "expert observers". We preface this presentation with a brief observation from the organizing literature. There seems to be widespread concern about over-reliance on foundation support, seen as external funding and as funding that comes with specific strings attached [23]. But, at the same time, there seems to be a widespread call among organizers and organizing supporters for increased foundation funding of organizing [24]. We will attempt to address this seeming paradox.

    Major grantmakers supporting CCHD grantees

    158 CCHD grantees supplied detailed information on grants they had received over the past three years (FY 2000 through FY 2002). This information produced a database of 600 funders who granted, collectively, $53,497,139 to CCHD grantees who were organizing organizations.

    About the funder database:
    • 158 grantees supplied detailed data on grantmakers.
    • 601 grantmakers were listed.
    • They invested $53,497,139 in organizing from FY 2000 through FY 2002.
    • 99 grantmakers invested at least $100,000 in organizing.
    • 204 invested between $20,000 and $99,999.
    • 298 invested under $20,000.

    The Roman Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, and Jewish communities are the most significant faith based funders in our database:

    Five largest faith based funders of organizing, FY 2000 - FY 2002, as reported by 158 CCHD grantees (over $300K in grants):
    • CCHD (local and unspecified) - grants to 122 organizations totaling $6,032,842
    • CCHD (national) - grants to 42 organizations totaling $2,464,656
    • Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock - grants to 16 organizations totaling $1,112,000
    • Jewish Fund for Justice - grants to 19 organizations totaling $429,625
    • Unitarian Universalist (unspecified) - grants to 16 organizations totaling $327,694

    The largest investors in organizing among independent foundations include those who historically have invested in organizing (Mott, Ford, Public Welfare, Needmor) as well as some new ones: recently created foundations by health care conversions (California Endowment, California Wellness), new issues-focused initiatives that include organizing as a strategy (Robert Wood Johnson), and intermediaries (Tides):

    Ten largest independent foundations supporting organizing, FY 2000 - FY 2002, as reported by 158 CCHD grantees (over $700K in grants):
    • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation - grants to 34 organizations totaling $2,523, 217
    • Ford Foundation - grants to 11 organizations totaling $1,629,380
    • Public Welfare Foundation - grants to 20 organizations totaling $1,532,000
    • James Irvine Foundation - grants to 10 organizations totaling $1,238,493
    • MacArthur Foundation - grants to 2 organizations totaling $950,000
    • California Endowment - grants to 9 organizations totaling $879,847
    • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - grants to 1 organization totaling $851,904
    • Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation - grants to 12 organizations totaling $766,576
    • Needmor Foundation - grants to 17 organizations totaling $747,400
    • Tides Foundation - grants to 21 organizations totaling $710,075

    The investments of corporate foundations and community foundations in community organizing, as reported by CCHD grantees were quite modest:

    Three largest corporate foundations supporting organizing, FY 2000 - FY 2002, as reported by 158 CCHD grantees:
    • Fannie Mae Foundation - grants to 5 organizations totaling $346,638
    • Ben & Jerry's Foundation - grants to 12 organizations totaling $132,829
    • Washington Mutual Foundation - grants to 1 organization totaling $130,000


    Three largest community foundations supporting organizing, FY 2000 - FY 2002, as reported by CCHD grantees:
    • Chicago Community Trust - grants to 4 organizations totaling $320,000
    • Philadelphia Foundation - grants to 6 organizations totaling $137,000
    • Greater New Haven Community Foundation - grants to 1 totaling $132,500

    Our database suggests that significant new investors have been drawn into organizing via increased persuasion and/or awareness within the grantmaking field that organizing is an effective strategy to improve communities and achieve policy change. Two newer health care conversions, the California Endowment and the California Wellness Foundation, along with the health care focused Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, see organizing as a strategy to improve the overall health of lower income residents as well as to increase access to health insurance. The Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Rural Schools Community Trust and Polk Bros Foundation invest in organizing as a strategy to improve public school performance; the Beldon and Joyce foundations, to change environmental policy; the Open Society Institute, to advance criminal justice reform.

    Funders making major investments (over $500K) in organizing through the lens of issues, FY 2000 - FY 2002, as reported by CCHD grantees:
    • California Endowment (health) - grants to 9 organizations totaling $897,894
    • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (access to health insurance) - grants to 1 organization totaling $851,904 through Covering Kids and Families program
    • Edward W. Hazen Foundation (education and youth organizing) - grants to 12 organizations totaling $637,917
    • California Wellness (health) - grants to 5 organizations totaling $590,883
    • Beldon Foundation (environment) - grants to 7 organizations totaling $515,165

    And lastly, we see intermediaries, partnerships and collaborations as important alternative structures to the traditional grantmaker-grantseeker relationship in increasing grantmaking support of organizing:

    Intermediaries, partnerships and collaboratives that distributed significant grants income for CCHD grantees between FY 2000 and FY 2002:
    • Tides Foundation - grants to 21 organizations totaling $710,075
    • Center for Community Change - grants to 16 organizations totaling $321,825
    • California Works for Better Health - grants to 1 organization totaling $300,000
    • Project VOTE - grants to 6 organizations totaling $219,153


    Our data suggest that grants are such a significant - and growing - share of organizing budgets because organizing and organizing funders have been successful in engaging new funders to invest in organizing. Two strategies for doing so stand out:

    1. convincing funders that organizing is an effective means to achieve results in specific issues areas, and
    2. developing new grantmaking structures - intermediaries, partnerships, funding collaboratives - that make organizing more attractive to funders who otherwise might not invest in it.

    One glimpse of the changes underfoot in the organizing grantmaking world comes from a comparison of the top funders of CCHD grantees 10 years ago with those in our current sample, excluding the CCHD itself, which dominated grantmaking then and dominates it now. Note the declining significance of church funding programs beyond the CCHD between then and now, and the number of new funders to organizing on the current list:

    Top 15 grantmakers to CCHD grantees, 1992 and 2000- 2002, excluding the CCHD:

    1992 2000 - 2002
    1. Presbyterian Church (misc.) 1. Mott Foundation
    2. Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program 2. Ford Foundation
    3. Needmor Foundation 3. Public Welfare Foundation
    4. Presbyterian Church 4. James Irvine Foundation
    5. Evangelical Lutheran Church 5. Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program
    6. Catholic non-CCHD (misc.) 6. MacArthur Foundation
    7. New World Foundation 7. California Endowment
    8. C. S. Mott Foundation 8. Mary Reynolds Babcock Fnd.
    9. Partnership for Democracy 9. Needmor Foundation
    10. Northwest Area Foundation 10. Tides Foundation
    11. Catholic - Oblates 11. Edward W. Hazen Foundation
    12. United Methodist Church 12. California Wellness Foundation
    13. Families USA 13. Lilly Endowment
    14. Woods Fund 14. Beldon Foundation
    15. United Church of Christ 15. New World Foundation

    At the same time, we underscore that, while foundations' investments in organizing are growing to the extent that some within organizing are worried about over-reliance, the overall investment remains extremely modest. If we take a handful of very large grants out of the analysis (such as the Robert Wood Johnson multi year grant to one organizing group, for instance, and MacArthur's grants to 2 groups totaling $950,000) we find that the average 3 year investment in an organizing group by any one funder is quite modest. For example:

    Average three year investments in a community organizing organization, top investors in multiple organizations, as reported by 158 CCHD grantees, FY 2000 through FY 2002:
    • CCHD local and unspecified
    $ 49,450 per organization (mean)
    • C.S. Mott Foundation
    $ 74,212 per organization
    • CCHD (national)
    $ 58,682 per organization
    • Ford Foundation
    $148,125 per organization
    • Public Welfare
    $ 78,625 per organization
    • Irvine
    $123,849 per organization
    • Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program
    $ 69,500 per organization
    • California Endowment
    $ 97,761 per organization
    • Mary Reynolds Babcock
    $ 63,881 per organization
    • Tides Foundation
    $ 33,813 per organization

    The Roles of Foundations and Institutional Grantmakers Supporting Organizing

    Why foundations and institutional grantmakers invest in organizing

    As we think about how grantmaking institutions support community organizing -- their current and their appropriate roles -- we pause to ask why they support it. No nonprofit needs reminding how different the approaches, perspectives and guidelines of funders are. Of the nation's 62,000 foundations, a few focus on organizing because they believe solidly in its values, its strategies and its products. Others see it through a lens of social justice and equity or contributing to civil society and civic engagement, including voter participation. For some its role in leadership development or youth development is a key. Some see it as part of a strategy to strengthen the physical environment of communities (community development) or a way to move an issue agenda or campaign.

    The Community Organizing Toolbox/A Funder's Guide to Community Organizing, is a publication of the Neighborhood Funders Group, a national "affinity group" of grantmaking institutions [25]. The Toolbox argues that organizing is an effective strategy to advance grantmakers' goals to strengthen communities and democracy. The Toolbox lists these attractions for funding community organizing. It:

    • Is the baseline strategy for effective community revitalization.

    • Can help find solutions to the critical issues of poverty and race.

    • Can affect change by building the capacity of people and groups working at the grassroots level.

    • Can revitalize our democracy.

    • Gets the best mileage for grant investments.

    • Is a long-term strategy that makes a significant difference.

    Robert M. Johnson's Why Philanthropy Must Make Democracy...the First Charity [26] provides an extended case for foundation support of organizing. His primary reasons:

    • It solves problems.

    • It creates institutions that serve constituencies, promote democratic values, and become assets in the community.

    • It builds the public life of the community.

    In a paper Seth Borgos and Scott Douglas [27] present findings about the contributions of community organizing based on case studies of the work. They find that organizing:

    • Is highly effective at fostering trust among people divided by culture, class, self-interest, or ideology.

    • Can be a powerful vehicle for political education.

    • Groups have shown a knack for addressing divisive issues that often seem intractable in other contexts.

    This study uncovered many reasons for grantmaker support of community organizing. Comments include:

    Torie Osborn, Executive Director, Liberty Hill Foundation:

    More and more funders see the value of [organizing]. They understand 1) the need to move more money upstream - helping people one at a time is a black hole, especially because of what's happening politically. You need reform on a broad scale. And 2) there's a need for people working on their own behalf to be mobilized.

    Scott Douglas, Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries; board member, Needmor Fund:

    [Organizing is] ... how to build democracy, an accountable society, solve Robert Putnam's conundrum. We have to demonstrate democracy in order to build it. Our goal is to transform people from consumers to producers of governance.

    David Odahowski, President, Edyth Bush Foundation:

    It's one thing to make grants to orchestras, your favorite children's charity. The next step is funding capacity building of nonprofits. Organizing is a higher level of thinking about what philanthropy can do to enhance the quality of life and decision-making in the community ... These are the constituencies that policy makers, business and community leaders need to do their jobs well.

    Anne Hallett, former Executive Director of the Wieboldt Foundation and of the Cross City Campaign for School Reform:

    Edna McConnell Clark Foundation put millions into middle school reform. At a meeting, their staff person said he was concerned about changes being sustained. He said if he had it to do over, he would have funded organizing in order to sustain it. Just funding bureaucracy doesn't bring lasting change.

    Barriers to Funding Organizing

    In spite of such strong arguments for supporting organizing, few foundations do so routinely. Barriers are suggested by Robert M. Johnson, consultant, author, and formerly Executive Director of the Wieboldt Foundation:

    • Philanthropy largely gives to people in its comfort zone, namely the non-poor.

    • It is more comfortable with "professional" than grassroots organizations.

    • Philanthropy likes the "medical model" - a diagnosis of a problem or social illness and a professionally delivered, often social services "solution".

    Kris Smock writes [28] "...[M]ost mainstream funding institutions subscribe to a broad liberal populism that emphasizes resident participation and community control but is uncomfortable with serious challenges to the status quo". She touches on the irony of the active philanthropic interest in "civic engagement," "civil society," and "human capital development": donors promoting these areas seldom acknowledge (or encourage supporting) community organizing as a key catalyst in this work.

    William Schambra, Director, Hudson Institute's Bradley Center on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, notes:

    A barrier in philanthropy - no matter how much foundations try to persuade folks they listen to communities and base programs on their input, they don't. The money ends up flowing to particular manifestations that the foundation wanted to support all along...All trends in nonprofit management are toward ever more technical professionalism and measurement. They put community groups through the wringer.

    Emmett D. Carson, 2005 chairman of the Council on Foundation, challenges particularly community foundations to be agents of social change and lists barriers to their assuming that role [29]:

    1. unwillingness to acknowledge power relationships (including their own power to affect change);

    2. foundations owe allegiance to the social systems that created them;

    3. [lacking] courage to withstand controversy;

    4. belief that social justice grantmaking requires significant resources.

    Other significant barriers to greater support from grantmakers arise in how organizing groups undertake foundation fundraising, the skills they bring to it, and the language they use -- a topic we take up later.

    How foundations support community organizing - what their funding underwrites

    Foundations support organizing in at least three ways (although some, especially those most deeply committed to organizing, may fund two or all three functions).

    1. Core operational support. Overall for all nonprofits, the Foundation Center's "Foundation Giving Trends" [30] shows general operating support at an all-time high - but only at 21.8%, with the great majority of funding restricted. Of course providing general operating, core support tops the list of organizing practitioners' and supporters' advice for a grantmaker's most appropriate role. And make that long-term support. Hubert Dixon III, Center for Community Change team leader, points admiringly to the example of the French-American Charitable Trust. They provide anchor funding, long-term, for a core of organizing grantees, combined with evaluation as part of the process. Ellen Gurzinsky, Executive Director of The Funding Exchange, says "More and more funders are realizing what groups need is general support, not project money". Foundations and church bodies with a strong, ongoing commitment to the community organizing field have been those most likely to provide general operating support. For example, the Wieboldt Foundation, a supporter of organizing for decades, provides almost exclusively general support.

    2. Targeted (or restricted) support for special projects, for work on specific issues or campaigns, or for expansion. In addition to supporting new initiatives or staff positions, increasingly foundations support organizing groups to pursue issue work -- notably education reform, voter participation, environmental issues. (In some cases restricted grants for special projects enable funders to extend support to groups that have passed a foundation's time limit for general operating funding.)

    3. Support to build community organizing groups' abilities to grow and thrive as nonprofit organizations. Support for "capacity building" targets such areas as fundraising, planning, technology, media, research and policy development/linking organizing with policy partners, financial planning and management, creating cash reserves, raising organizer salaries, improving organizing skills. The foundation role in supporting capacity building appears a growing one and not without controversy. Clearly it can bring new resources to organizing and attract new funders, especially through funder collaboratives. Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of Center for Community Change, suggests funders should consider grants to build capacity in planning and fundraising. Torie Osborn says funders should invest in ongoing capacity building - good databases, computers, the nonprofit infrastructure that undergirds good fundraising.

    Many participants in this study spoke of both the limits and the potential of enhancing organizing groups' skills, particularly in fundraising. Robert M. Johnson warns against simply providing grants to develop fundraising skills. "It doesn't work. You have to get groups together over time [to learn together]" or concentrate resources on leaders of intermediaries and networks to enhance their training of member groups. Several study respondents noted the importance of long-term, not one-shot, skill-building, of peer learning, and of mentoring relationships with ongoing, on-site support. Scott Douglas says "No one is beating down the door to help improve fundraising. Foundations in the South try to push consultants on organizations but consultants don't get organizing, they don't understand our mission."

    Some foundation staff offer their own technical assistance, especially in fundraising. It may be informal - coaching applicants and grantees on how to apply, how to adapt proposals to meet internal foundation needs, how to develop more fruitful relationships with the foundation through communications, etc. Lori Bezahler, President of Edward W. Hazen Foundation, says: "At Hazen [Foundation] we do a lot of back and forth on the proposal process because so many of our grantees are emerging, small groups. We help them sharpen their skills."

    Locating the appropriate role for foundations to play in supporting organizing: the seeming paradox of increasing grant support for organizing without undermining local support

    Universally, advocates of community organizing would like to see increased support for the field of organizing, including from foundations and other institutional grantmakers. Marjorie Fine, Executive Director of Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, comments: "Why shouldn't foundations put a lot more money into organizing? They give so much more to elite things." And Seth Borgos, Center for Community Change: "Overall, foundation funding for organizing is so small. Efforts of the last 10 years have produced new resources but, even if it's doubled, it's still small."

    But how should grantmakers direct funding to community organizing? This question is tightly bound up with an issue more significant for organizing than for most other nonprofits -- that of developing diverse revenue sources and the appropriate proportion from grassroots sources. To whom is the community group accountable if it is largely dependent on foundations and its members and constituents do not contribute to and "own" the organization? Thus the paradox: yes, more foundation support is desirable but not at the expense of or undermining grassroots support and ownership.

    Both community organizers and their allies comment on the dilemmas associated with foundation support. As frustrating as raising grant money may be, it is seen as relatively easy, even addictive, compared with the more labor-intensive job of raising money from grassroots sources. As one observer said, an experienced executive director at midnight on a laptop can whip out a foundation proposal and with luck yield a $25,000 grant; contrast that to the effort of raising $25,000 from internal sources.

    Our study respondents, organizers and observers of the field alike, strike no consensus on the "appropriate" role of foundations - how funding is directed -- nor the desirable proportion of funding they should provide. But there is concern about dependence on foundation donors:

    Marjorie Fine would combine general operating and matching grants:

    If you give general operating, then you'll pay attention to the whole organization. It's how you give, not if. What's not right is a funder that pours a lot of money into a community and pulls out. If you are trying to build a long-term institution, make a commitment for multiple years of support -- even 20 years -- and provide matching money to get seeding at the local level.

    Torie Osborn ofof Liberty Hill Foundation:

    I'm concerned about the absolute dependence on foundations of our grantees - 70-90%. Some are diversifying. I was struck by how little they go to their own members. We know it's easier to get money from foundations. It's a dilemma for foundations. Foundations can help fund training and fundraising capacity.

    Sue Chinn, formerly Executive Director of the Discount Foundation and now Chief of Staff and Associate Director of the Center for Community Change:

    Groups are overly-dependent on outside sources of funding and have a long way to go to develop an individual membership base. My husband works in labor and we compare and contrast. Labor has an individual membership base. You have more freedom if supported by members. CBO's with 100% foundation support are beholden. I believe organizing won't grow in power and authority through foundation support alone....They won't grow in influence until they grow in membership. If you are going to prioritize fundraising, that would be it. If CBO's are doing their jobs, they may end up butting heads with corporate leaders who are on the boards of foundations and community foundations. There's a whole lot we all should be doing to develop alternative sources of funding.

    David Liners, formerly of Milwaukee Innercity Alliance for Hope (MICAH), says in the years that they focused on base building, foundations weren't interested in providing support. Then they realized they could survive without foundations if they needed to and that was liberating. The foundations did not direct their activities in those years.

    Frank Sanchez, Program Officer at the Needmor Foundation , estimates their grantees raise 30-35% of their funding sources beyond foundations but thinks they should aim for 50%.

    Joe Mariano, Executive Director of National Training and Information Center:

    In terms of your budget, you should always be able to raise from local fundraising sources at least one salary for the director or lead organizer. To be realistic, the rest of the budget for the organization, should come from foundations and corporations - with maybe 65% coming from foundations.

    Scott Douglas of Greater Birmingham Ministries:

    Our budget has gone from 5% foundations to 40%. Thirty percent is the goal. Right now it is a dangerously high proportion.

    Organizers often assert an ideal of at least half of revenues from internal sources. Mike Miller and others see foundations' appropriate role as providing funds matching increased dues and local support, not general support.

    Of special concern is the impact of large grants on an organization, particularly grants made early in the organization's life cycle. Opinions vary on the extent to which grants, especially larger grants, make organizing dependent on foundations:

    Sonya Garcia, Executive Director, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training:

    Large foundation grants can "take people off focus," and make smaller grassroots fundraising seem insignificant. Foundations could alleviate this by including matching requirements for grassroots support.

    Henry Allen, Program Officer for Hyams Foundation, says "Big foundation grants delay the necessity to diversify funding."

    Cindy Bush, former Executive Director of Interfaith Federation, observes: "It needs to be pointed out that some groups are not dependent on foundations. And that there will never be a day when foundation funding is not needed." But she adds regarding large foundation grants reducing local support, "That happened to us. It was real subtle and kind of scary."

    Marjorie Fine supports long-term general operating support as a way of liberating community organizing grantees from foundation influence:

    Sure we ask organizing to develop diverse sources. I do want membership to support them. But foundations should provide more. Foundations don't have to make organizing dependent. People are talking about following the example of the right wing: provide commitments of many years of support for general operating, not for specific issue work. . . . Then they are not dependent on the foundation. We need to really parse what we mean by independent.

    Study respondents pointed to another reason, beyond the dependency issue, to avoid a revenue budget heavy with foundation support: the unreliability of foundation grants. This has several causes - shifts in foundation guidelines, funding interests and strategies; time limits that foundations place on the number of continuous years of support; staff changes; and reduced grant budgets as the economy affects foundations' asset bases. This study uncovered many indications that significant cutbacks in foundation spending in recent years have driven community organizing groups to find alternative sources and to "search within." Deepak Bhargava comments: "The crash of foundation portfolios showed them they are subject to the whims of foundations. They learned they have to find other ways to raise money."

    Torie Osborn also expresses concern about dependence on foundations because of the unreliability of foundation funding. She sees growing competition for foundation grants, both from an expanding social justice nonprofit sector and, significantly, from political and economic trends that will dramatically reduce government sector support for wide ranging programs, driving these programs to compete for limited foundation grants.

    Consultant and author Andy Robinson believes there is an increased interest in individual donations as a direct result of the late 1990s stock market fall. He thinks foundations, especially those who reduced spending, should fund specific efforts by community groups to develop individual gift programs, such as software, training for Boards and staffs, reconfiguring the staff to add skills, and donor materials.

    Author and consultant Kim Klein observes that

    Funding is becoming harder to get as the market remains uncertain, and as organizations who previously had government funding now seek foundation funding. This leads to more interest in earned income and individual donors.

    Todd Dietterle, of Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies and Former Vice President, Woods Fund of Chicago, agrees:

    There's clearly a move to lessen dependence on foundations or on the same foundations. There's particular interest in exploring individual donation programs.

    Funding that builds organizing: effective funder practices.

    Critiques of Grantmaker Practices

    Where to start? First, this study uncovered many positive perspectives on funder roles in regard to community organizing. Appreciated are the funds themselves, the greater "bang for the buck" in foundation fundraising compared to most other sources; the personal support of program officers; the role of foundation staff opening doors to other funders. Leroy Johnson, Executive Director of Southern Echo, Inc., says he learned foundation fundraising by asking good pointed questions of foundation staff and then listening carefully to the answers. James Mumm, Co-Executive Director, Mothers on the Move, says raising money from foundations helps members understand there is a social justice movement and funders are part of it. He adds that foundation fundraising gives members good practice in being spokespersons. Bill O'Brien, former Executive Director of MOSES, comments that leaders enjoy the creation of a productive relationship with large corporations and the process of getting to know foundation staff.

    A study by Robert O. Bothwell [31] gathered views from membership-based groups and "progressive" foundations. Both parties generally found foundation support inadequate and attributed it to foundations usually preferring more professionalized organizations, fearing advocacy, being bureaucratic. The "worst" foundation behavior included:

    • Unintelligible or bureaucratic application stages.

    • Proposals not read, pulled, or declined after foundation-initiated changes or when a program officer left.

    • Time limits for successive grants.

    • Arbitrariness of decision-making.

    His study participants noted that grassroots groups were disadvantaged in these ways: they lack the relationships important to successful applications; new groups lack track records and capacity important to funders; grassroots groups often lack a clear fit with foundation guidelines.

    This study uncovered the following concerns with funder practices:

    • Foundations setting priorities for community organizing agendas and activities through restricted grants. At the same time, Mike Gecan, Senior Organizer for IAF, says "There are so many foundations out there; you don't have to cave in to those who are directive; apply elsewhere."

    • Limited funding for organizing in the South, rural areas and smaller cities and towns, and lack of understanding of regional and cultural differences in organizing. (Note: this issue was of concern to many respondents; we discuss it in more detail in this report; see box "'It's different in the South . . . in Indian country . . . in rural areas . . .etc.': Issues in Equity and Diverse Cultures in Funding Organizing" below.)

    • Short term funding, especially one-year grants; the time limit or "time out" requirement to rotate off the grant list for a certain period instead of consistent support.

    • Traditional foundation timeframes not allowing for the complexity of issues community organizing addresses. James Mumm says this is a big obstacle and they preach to all that long-term funding is needed and appropriate for organizing. Cindy Bush speaks of organizing's "unfolding pattern" to develop infrastructure, to impact policy, and of its need for a longer funding cycle.

    • Foundation "faddism" and shifts in funding eligibility.

    • Funders not understanding the true nature of organizing, not attending community events.

    • The need to reframe organizing with each funder and to distort the work. Sonya Garcia describes organizers feeling the need to be subtle about their politics, to downplay the true nature of the organization's goals, which corrupts the process.

    • Limited vision of organizing. Hubert Dixon III of the Center for Community Change, points to "strong, inaccurate biases about what is good organizing. They prefer larger groups in urban areas."

    • Program officers not leveling with applicants about what they value and are prepared to fund.

    • Foundation expectations for organizing to both predict unpredictable activities and to quantify outcomes by measures not appropriate to organizing. Henry Allen: "Foundations are more and more focused on outcome measures. It started out as a United Way virus and it's spread....It's a fetish. But organizing can compete if you do rigorous evaluation of organizing and its outcomes."

    • Fear of confrontation and controversy. Carmen Prieto, Associate Director of Wieboldt Foundation, says "Foundations tied to one city are responsive to the ...political leadership of that city and will shy away from funding organizing if there is active disapproval from that leadership".

    Recommendations for effective funding of organizing

    The Bothwell study noted above determined that the best organizing relationships with foundations happen when:

    • foundation staff are "our" people, organizers, or unusually empathetic and hardworking;

    • there is willingness to provide general, continuing and/or significant support;

    • staff are accessible, honest and willing to engage in two-way partnerships.

    Participants in this study would have foundations address their concerns about funder practices noted above. An overall suggestion is that funders "let organizing be organizing" in its proposal applications and its reporting to foundations. (This doesn't mean that organizing should not improve its communications with foundations.)

    As we have seen in the previous section, there is ambivalence among our respondents in how foundation money and potential expansion of it are perceived. Most want to see increased the very limited proportion of overall foundation grantmaking that now goes to organizing. However, many - not all - warn against increased foundation support, saying it can cut local ownership and control of the organization's priority-setting.

    Respondents' recommendations reflect a lack of consensus about what kinds of funding most effectively supports good organizing:

    • Increase general operating support and make multi-year commitments, thereby decreasing the potential for foundations to control or alter the organization's agenda. Hubert Dixon III points admiringly to the example of the French-American Charitable Trust. They provide anchor funding, long-term, for a core of organizing grantees, combined with evaluation as part of the process.

    • Combine general, core support with funds to increase internal revenue sources through matching/challenge grants and/or funds to underwrite acquiring new skills through training, consultants or staffing. Marjorie Fine:

      It's how you give, not if. If you are trying to build a long-term institution, make a commitment for multiple years of support -- even 20 years -- and provide matching money [repetitious] to get seeding at the local level."
    • Or limit foundation grants to special purposes, initiatives, or expansion, thereby encouraging more diverse revenue sources. Purposes could include building skills in grassroots fundraising, creating cash reserves, enhancing technology as well as programmatic costs.

    • Make sure capacity building grants support effective adult learning processes - peer learning, reflection in action - rather the "one shot" workshops and forums.

    In summary, our study participants view foundations and other grantmakers as crucial supporters of community organizing, for their grants, their fundraising advice, and their roles in recruiting additional funders of organizing. There are many suggestions for how funders can improve their practices, with many of the critiques common to all kinds of nonprofits. The key question requiring much more discussion among organizing practitioners, their allies, and funders is what kinds of grant support are most helpful in building strong organizations with diverse sources of revenue.

    "It's different in the South . . . in Indian country . . . in rural areas . . .etc.":
    Issues in Equity and Diverse Cultures in Funding Organizing

    Community organizing and the conditions under which it operates differ in this diverse nation - and funders must be responsive to the differences. That is the message of several interviewees in this study. The differences include how organizing itself operates and is perceived by its practitioners, the cultural climate in which it operates, and the range (or lack of a range) of funding available to it.

    Hubert Dixon III notes the difficulty of raising funds for groups spread across rural areas. "It's important for the country to have equity...Sections of the country are underfunded, like the Southeast." Sandra Mikush, Vice President, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, notes:

    There's a regional perspective. I know there is potential in urban areas for breaking into new [fundraising] sources. In the South, family foundations, community foundations, corporations are pretty activist on maintaining the status quo. And there are conservative power bases in urban-ish areas, a system of philanthropy that works hard to fund charity, not change.

    Scott Douglas, Director of Greater Birmingham Ministries, says the South is underrepresented in support for progressive causes and community organizing. He counts just six groups in Alabama with a paid community organizer. "There is less organizing and more direct services." Leroy Johnson feels many national funders don't understand how different organizing may be in the South, especially in small towns and rural areas:

    Some groups are staffed, some are volunteer-led. It may not look like organizing in urban areas. They define organizing differently. The biggest problem is that folks [funders] don't look at what organizing is in the region. The language is skewed. "Actions" don't carry much in the South. The language of organizing is very different, how you see it and how you do it.

    Foundations are quantitative. On the East or West coast you can get 1500 people out. Here you can get 50 out and foundations say "Come back to see us when you have a base". But they are getting 50 out when the whole town is 200 people. You're measuring with an urban bias.

    Johnson also notes that having staff may not be a first priority for an organizing group, as it can raise suspicions that someone is just trying to create a job. Better is to open an office run by volunteers where the office, phone and copier become a community resource and trust can be built.

    Organizing of "the traditional kind," says George Penick, Executive Director of Foundation of the Mid South, often is imported by the national networks like PICO, ACORN and IAF. He draws a distinction between that and people organizing themselves to serve and represent, for example, African American communities. Sometimes the work begins with a project focus and grows into organizing. Scott Douglas echoes that theme saying:

    Our agenda walks through the door -- people needing food, jobs . . .. We provide but ask the next question: Why do they need food? Why did they lose their job? That develops our issues.

    Sandra Mikush agrees: "Across the South, we recognize that in some communities you need to first address immediate needs, prove yourself relevant to them, before you can organize."

    Mikush says there are few funders of organizing in the South, although the Ford collaborative has created an up-tick and Charles Stewart. Mott Foundation's work with local community foundations opened them up a bit to community-based groups.

    She comments "Though organizing in the South doesn't have adequate funding support, we do benefit from the leadership and traditions of the civil rights movement across the region and of labor organizing, especially in Appalachia."

    Interviewees in this study also advised donors to recognize different approaches with Native American communities. Chris Peters, CEO and President of Seventh Generation Fund, notes that virtually all of their grantees engage in community organizing but would not use that term:

    They don't organize around civic engagement but as issues come up. Internal training is not structured; people learn through role models and demonstrations. With Native folks it's more movement building, resistance building. Organizing in the Native community is a life-long endeavor. Using a ceremony that brings tribes together in solidarity is organizing. It uses a lot of the same basic strategies as more traditional organizing. We have a constant effort of interpreting to major funders. In our community "sustainable communities" and "environmental justice" and "sacred lands" are all one project, but you have to separate them out for funders.

    She also notes that basic writing skills, along with fear, self-consciousness and cultural differences are barriers in dealing with funders:

    Putting down a track record is seen as bragging. Also, asking people for money is not in the traditional realm. The concept of leadership is not the same. Someone seen as a leader tends to get ostracized. The charismatic leader may work in an environmental group but people say, if the leader is doing it we don't have to get involved. Focus on a leader through media or awards, tends to undermine the group.

    Syd Beane, an Alinsky-trained organizer now with Center for Community Change, says his view of organizing has evolved. He sees organizing's strengths in terms of its integration with related fields - education, community development, voting, technology, unions. He says:

    In Native American communities you organize around culture. Traditional organizing often avoids this approach and focuses on issues, making it difficult to build communities. This is a barrier to organizing and fundraising. The new immigrant groups are doing organizing and not calling it that. You don't want to take it out of the culture.

    Yes, immigrant groups do have cultural issues that funders of organizing must recognize, says Daranee Petsod, Executive Director of Funders for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

    For example, Arab/Muslim groups feel their work is inspirational; they shouldn't have to "beg" for money. Groups along the border may frame their work in terms of human rights - linking human rights abuses in their countries of origin with border enforcement and workforce abuses in this country, also called human rights. It's a great organizing framework for immigrant communities.

    So a promising practice, respondents suggest to funders, is to be sensitive to regional and cultural difference and open to how organizing is framed in various communities.

    Promising strategies to increase funder investments in organizing

    Introduction: reasons for apparent growth in funder support for organizing

    Because the clearinghouses collecting data on foundation giving do not include a separate category for community organizing, we cannot document total support for organizing, how support for organizing is changing nor how funding is targeted - general support vs. restricted, for example. Who funds organizing? Neighborhood Funders Group surveyed its 200 member institutions in 1999 and 88 said that they fund community organizing. "They include small local funders as well as five of the 15 largest foundations in the country; community foundations, family foundations, public foundations, church giving programs and corporate funders; funders funding primarily in urban areas, and others with significant rural portfolios." [32]

    This study uncovered wide commentary and anecdotal evidence suggesting that more foundations are supporting community organizing and that those funders are diverse. The 600 grantmakers listed as co-funders of CCHD community organizing grantees include great diversity: national, regional and local funders, community foundations, intermediaries and funder collaboratives, alternative public funds, corporate donors. Few of these donors list community organizing as a funding priority in their guidelines or even mention it, but they provide a glimpse of how wide is the range of sources organizing groups have enlisted as supporters.

    Our respondents offered many reasons that grantmaker support for organizing seems to be rising. They attribute the increase partly to funder recognition of the growing sophistication of organizing in pursuing statewide, regional, and national policy changes. Urvashi Vaid, Former Deputy Director of the Governance and Civil Society Unit, Ford Foundation says "The field of community organizing is gaining credibility, respect. There's a greater legitimacy."

    Lori Bezahler of Edward W. Hazen Foundation comments:

    The new attention [by organizing] to collaborations across organizing networks has opened up new pots of money. And the evolution of organizing has made it more palatable to some funders who feel confrontation doesn't get you anywhere. And as groups get more sophisticated and gain more power, they build different relationships with entities like universities which lend them legitimacy with some potential funders."

    Some funders began supporting community organizing in the face of "devolution" - the shift of much policy making and allocation decisions from the federal to state and local levels. Intermediaries also permit increased donor support. This route allows foundations, especially national funders, to support local and regional work, assisted by a local entity better positioned to know the organizations, the communities, and their needs. The intermediary may be a local foundation (Ford Foundation to Liberty Hill Foundation) or a nonprofit closely aligned with community organizations (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to six regional and ethnicity-based intermediaries). In such cases the intermediaries may combine a re-granting function and training. Some grant money also underwrites the intermediaries' role. For both national and local funders, intermediaries can be seen as "safe," credible grantees providing an interpretative and sometimes insulating function for large donors.

    Most especially commentators cite funder support of specific issue campaigns or special initiatives as a lure drawing in foundations new to community organizing.

    Anne Hallett, who has studied funder collaboratives, notes:

    Within the Working Group on Education Organizing, there is money for organizing, with a particular interest in education organizing. It's the sustaining function of organizing that has an appeal. I think part of the rationale for supporting education organizing will be impact. "Building the field" is important, but not sufficient.

    Seth Borgos of the Center for Community Change:

    More but still few foundations get organizing for its own sake. More see it as a tool: combine research, advocacy, organizing to advance the foundation's mission. This is where the expansion has been. It might be for issue work or under the rubric of leadership development or participation. At the big foundations it comes out of different departments.

    Some grantmakers first support organizing in somewhat narrow categories (specific issues, "civil society"), and as they learn more about organizing's effectiveness, provide general operating support. Sara Mersha, Executive Director of Direct Action for Rights and Equality, says a community foundation first funded them for "civic engagement" but evolved to appreciate and support their issue work and leadership development. Even service delivery, such as ACORN's door to door work to promote Earned Income Tax Credit applications, has introduced new donors to organizing.

    Support for capacity building is another growth area for support. Several foundations sponsor training programs in fundraising and other areas for organizing grantees. Examples include New World Foundation, Foundation of the Mid-South, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation. The Ford Foundation has embraced capacity building for community organizing through its support of intermediaries in five locations to enhance organizing skills and impacts.

    Five strategies for increasing funder support of organizing

    The following five strategies emerged in our study as particularly important growth opportunities in funding organizing:

    1. Funder Collaboratives

    A key theme emerging from this study is the role, seen as an increasing one, of funder collaboratives in stimulating support for organizing. Funder collaboratives are not new but their support of organizing seems to be growing. Locally, regionally and nationally funder collaboratives operate with multiple goals. With regard to organizing, some are intended to draw attention to the promise of organizing itself, some to build skills and effectiveness of organizing, some to advance a particular topic, issue area or constituency group. According to Anne Hallett, their role is to:

    • Get more money to a particular field (for "communities of interest "--e.g. immigrants and refugees, ethnic and racial groups, gays and lesbians, neighborhoods, women, youth -- or for issue areas --voter participation, environmental or school reform, metropolitan equity issues, community development).

    • Strengthen the field through capacity building, increased support or both.

    • Build funder knowledge and support.

    Some funder collaboratives ask grantmakers to pool funding for regranting, either by a steering committee of donors, of practitioners and donors, or by an intermediary. In other collaboratives funders sit together at the table but award grants separately.

    Do funder collaboratives bring new funders and additional money into the field of organizing? Anne Hallett sees "a growth industry" in foundation support of organizing through funder collaboratives.

    Lori Bezahler says:

    The process of creating a collaborative is educational for funders who wouldn't otherwise be involved. It puts them in the room with colleagues who have experience working with organizing groups and who understand how they function. Pooling resources can also offer foundations a way to support work that might seem too edgy or controversial if they were funding it alone; this can be particularly true for local funders or corporate foundations.

    In the Ford Foundation's Community Organizing Initiative, the Chicago locale was structured as a funder collaborative. There, five new foundations contributed to the collaborative, including two that say they don't fund organizing. Most organizing groups funded both increased and diversified their funding in the period studied.

    Dr. Marilyn Gittell, chief evaluator of the Ford initiative and Professor at City University of New York, recommends fueling a "national movement of funder collaboratives," especially if they follow lessons learned from past practice. Her study showed that foundations, including corporate foundations, gain exposure to organizing in collaboratives that show them how to fund in their local communities. One corporation that would not fund organizing directly did so through pooled funding. Gittell says "Funders in focus groups said once Ford was in, they were influenced to follow Ford's lead." She adds "LA is a marvelous example of how collaborations and networking can expand support."

    Several of this study's respondents noted the frequent catalytic role of a single donor, often a large or national grantmaker, who puts money on the table to attract collaboration partners. Sometimes such a collaboration involves a formal matching requirement to stimulate expanded support or new donors.

    A few examples of funder collaboratives that support organizing beyond the Ford initiatives mentioned include:

    • Donors Education Collaborative, NYC
    • Southern Partners Fund
    • Funders Collaborative for Racial Justice Innovation
    • Funders Collaborative for Youth Organizing
    • L.A. Urban Funders
    • Collaborative Fund for Youth-Led Social Change
    • Working Group on Education Organizing
    • Initiative for Neighborhood and Citywide Organizing
    • Hartford Collaborative for Community Organizing

    Hartford, Connecticut is home to the new Hartford Collaborative for Community Organizing. Created by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the City, and United Way of the Capital Area, donors include several additional foundations including a health care conversion foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation. For its first year, it has collected commitments of over $700,000 to grant to existing organizing and nascent efforts. It is working toward "...a city in which engaged residents are working together - across race, class and neighborhood boundaries - to strengthen key institutions, achieve greater accountability from decision makers, and shape relevant public policies affecting Hartford."

    Not all believe collaborations always bring additional resources into organizing. Leslie Ramyk, Director of the Chicago Capacity Building Initiative, thinks they may shift money from individual groups to pooled regranting funds, but they can help funders understand organizing more deeply, especially those who previously saw it through the narrow categories of leadership development or issue work. "It changes their reasons" for supporting the work. Alice Cottingham, Executive Director, Girls Best Friend Foundation and former director of a funder collaborative, says some funders dramatically increase and sustain giving in a field because of a collaboration while others give just for the life of the collaboration. Grantees, she indicates, can lose revenues, sometimes large amounts, when a collaboration ends. However groups can build on relationships created during the collaboration to rebuild support. Conditions that make for a successful funder collaboration, in her view:

    • A catalytic funder from outside helps but is not necessary.
    • Timing is such that people are jazzed by a challenge or an issue and about the impact they can have on it.
    • People like each other and there's not a lot of self-interest.
    • Good leadership is key.

    Lori Bezahler notes two concerns with funder collaboratives. First, balancing their need to be large enough to have impact vs. the problem of "too many cooks" making the collaborative unwieldy. Second, she raises the question of finding an appropriate balance of funding for the intended grantees and support for intermediaries to provide technical assistance to increase grantee skills. Grantees, she says, have to see the value added of a collaborative and understand the expectations that come with them.

    2. Building peer awareness

    The Individual Grantmaker Role in Expanding Support for Community Organizing

    One significant finding in this study of expanding funding for community organizing is the role, current and potential, of foundation staff and Board members in encouraging support for organizing. Peer to peer "proselytizing" is common in the grantmaking field. Some look to the executive director, others to individual program officers, to help other foundations learn about and create funding opportunities for organizing. Frank Sanchez, of the Needmor Fund, was frequently cited as one of the most consistent and knowledgeable organizing proponents. Regarding funder "activism," study participants comments included:

    Henry Allen:

    Some organizing groups rely on core funders to help them open doors. I think of it as part of my informal job description to organize money for organizing....Some of us [funders] got ourselves appointed to the United Way new affiliates committee and -- it took three years -- but we got some organizing groups admitted as members. They now have a steady stream of income.

    Lori Bezahler:

    I would guess that I spend 60% of my time on developing other foundations' understanding of the work Hazen supports -- youth organizing and organizing for education reform. Our grants budget is only about $1.5 million per year so, in order to bring about the change the foundation is seeking, we have made this an explicit part of our strategy.

    Of note is the role of Ford Foundation's internal Community Organizing Working Group in Ford's expanded support of organizing. Program officers in various departments had been funding organizing but felt there wasn't coherence or visibility to the field. Collectively staff initiated the Community Organizing Initiative, a special funding program to stimulate both organizing and additional funding for organizing. Ford also funded Liberty Hill Foundation, the Los Angeles intermediary, to work with family foundations to expand their exposure to organizing.

    Board members in foundations can also be persuasive advocates and interpreters for organizing. Dr. Marilyn Gittell was recruited to join a family foundation board. She relays how she and another board member "convinced them to understand social capital investing, including organizing, as a funding approach." Founding family members on the Needmor board keep organizing on the agenda in family foundation conferences. At Woods Fund of Chicago former organizer Barack Obama was an effective board member analyst and advocate for strong organizing, as was former organizer Syd Beane, Minneapolis Office Director for Center for Community Change, at Woods Charitable Fund in Nebraska. Many foundations including New World Foundation, Needmor, and social justice alternative funds intentionally recruit organizers for board leadership, both for their practitioner expertise and their ability to interpret and advocate organizing with fellow trustees.

    For a brief case study of how one foundation - the Woods Fund of Chicago - made community organizing its central grantmaking program, please see Appendix 1.

    Affinity groups

    Several people commented on the role of the national foundation "affinity groups" of like-minded funders, in promoting awareness of organizing as an effective funding strategy and opportunity. National Network of Grantmakers, Grantmakers for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Environmental Grantmakers, Funders Network for Smart Growth and particularly Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) were those most frequently cited. NFG published and distributed the aforementioned "Community Organizing Toolbox" to stimulate and assist those interested in funding organizing. Among its other efforts is the Community Giving Resource, a project helping smaller foundations develop support of organizing. The new Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) affinity group includes community organizing as a strategy to encourage.

    Frank Sanchez spoke about how Needmor helps expand foundation support for organizing:

    We're working through NFG and affinity groups to do it. It seems like it's working. More and more foundations are funding it but...not general operating because they like organizing. It's project based where they need an organized group to meet their goals - education, workforce development. There's a danger in its but it's worth encouraging.

    Steve Klink, Director of Fund Development for the PICO National Network, asked if foundation support is growing, said:

    Yes. Funder groups like Neighborhood Funders Group are important in this effort. Program officers who really do believe in CO can have a big influence on their peers. They do it through relationships, not one-shot presentations.

    3. Supporting organizing through intermediaries

    Our analysis of CCHD organizing grantees found two intermediaries among the top grantmakers to organizing. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation was an early supporter of intermediaries, funding organizing through seven such grantees around the country. The aforementioned Ford Foundation Community Organizing Initiative suggests why intermediaries seem to be a growing force in funding organizing. According to Urvashi Vaid, formerly with Ford Foundation, Ford's support for community organizing through investments in local social justice oriented funders allowed the foundation to get at the issue of how a national foundation can fund at the neighborhood level and have knowledge of that community. It also enabled local partners to grow stronger. She indicates, "We found that our national investment with local funders enabled the local partners to leverage new resources - for example with Liberty Hill Foundation in Los Angeles and with the Dade Community Foundation in Miami."

    Says Seth Borgos, Center for Community Change:

    Intermediaries can help with brokering relationships...can project a broader vision of what's possible. The larger possibilities draw new [funders] into the field. There's political resistance in foundations at the trustee level which you can't do much about from the outside. The biggest problem is the perception that organizing doesn't have much impact. Intermediaries can help with that...

    Syd Beane, also with Center for Community Change, adds:

    Major funders can be uncomfortable dealing with a lot of local groups. There's a disconnect. They are more comfortable with consultants and intermediaries. The tension is how we raise money for both local groups and the intermediaries. We need clarification on how intermediaries fundraise on behalf of local groups.

    4. Looking to Community Foundations for Expanded Support

    In our sample of CCHD grantees listing other funders, only three community foundations invested over $100,000 in organizing groups in the three year period from FY 2000 to FY 2002. Among our study participants, opinion is divided on how much potential lies in community foundations for expanded support of organizing. A prevailing view is that community foundations should be logical supporters of organizing, given their missions and their presumed responsibilities to the entire community. For many years Boston Foundation and Philadelphia Foundation were viewed an anomalies in the field because of their support of organizing. More recently, Massachusetts-Rhode Island Fund has committed significant funding to organizing and community-based legal work on civil rights. Andy Mott, Executive Director of Community Learning Project, notes the key role of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in developing and funding the new Hartford Collaborative for Community Organizing, intended to bring substantial encouragement, visibility and funding for organizing as a community renewal strategy. Some comments on community foundations from our interviews include:

    Chuck Shuford, Director of State Strategies Fund of Proteus Fund:

    It's < community foundations > the hardest place to work. Is development driven by program or vice versa?

    Jody Kretzmann, Founder and Co-Director of Asset Based Community Development Initiative (ABCD):

    It's a mostly negative trend for any sustained support for community-level work. If the CEO has an understanding and appreciation, it's possible to bring along your board.

    Anne Hallett:

    The problem is, they have to raise money as well as give it."

    Robert M. Johnson:

    Donor-advised funds (within community foundations) are semi-independent. Actually, there may be a better chance than with community foundation staff, if you can get to them [donors] individually.

    Scott Douglas, Greater Birmingham Ministries:

    There's a strong trend in our community foundations moving toward donor satisfaction. Less than 10% of their money is discretionary, the rest earmarked. But we work with staff in the foundation.

    Urvashi Vaid, formerly of the Ford Foundation:

    Much more work needs to be done with community foundations to deepen appreciation of the value of community organizing. Often organizing is seen solely or primarily as confrontation rather than as an essential solution to the problem of decreasing civic engagement or as a vital strategy for leadership development and empowerment of sectors of our communities that most need a voice in the policy making process. When it is seen in a more comprehensive manner, any foundation should be proud to sponsor this work.

    Paul Marincel, Associate Director of the Gamaliel Foundation:

    I would like to see more links with donor-advised funds to support community organizing.

    Steve Klink, PICO National Network:

    Several PICO affiliates get money from community foundations...In San Francisco, some staff even encourage donor-directed funds to give to community organizing.

    Cris Doby of the Mott Foundation observes that

    Some are already funding it - San Diego, Rochester, NY, Southeast Michigan.

    Better understanding of these community foundations' experiences and perceptions seems warranted if community foundations are to reach their potential for supporting organizing.

    5. Accessing the "new wealth," individual donors and less traditional structures for giving

    There is much speculation about extraordinary amounts of new wealth that could come on line for philanthropy and the nonprofit world is actively plotting how to tap into it. Sources of that wealth include 1) inheritance, with unprecedented trillions of dollars from the post-WW II era generation transferring to baby boomer children, 2) the more recently rich from technology and other growth industries, 3) the next generation "aging" into peak earning years. Key questions are how to maximize the charitable inclinations of potential donors and, to the point of this study, how to see that community organizing has a chance to access some of that bounty.

    Respondents in our study do not uniformly discourage community organizing groups from identifying individual "major" donors and introducing themselves and their contributions to society. In fact, some observers see promise there. (Greater Birmingham Ministries was the recipient of a major bequest and intends to be more deliberate about seeking such support.) However, respondents see greater opportunity to influence the choices of these and other donors through intermediary groups. The role of community organizing, therefore, would be to make sure that intermediaries are reaching out to potential donors and making sure that they understand organizing and its value so that they can encourage its funding.

    The intermediary entities include alternative or community based funds - public charities such as those in the Funding Exchange network. These foundations raise money and generally support "progressive" or "social justice" nonprofits and many say they fund organizing. These alternative funds increasing offer donor-advised services, allowing donors to direct funding to specific fields and grantees, as opposed to pooling their funds with other donors.

    Another intermediary is a collective of philanthropies under a central administrative roof. An example is Common Counsel Foundation, which houses and staffs family foundations (including those that fund organizing). For-profit or nonprofit firms also house and manage philanthropies, in addition to advising donors. "Philanthropic advisor" is a broad term that describes anyone from a bank/financial/legal individual to a firm or service helping donors, families and family foundations to develop philanthropic missions and programs. A few run their philanthropic advisory services with the goal of guiding donors to the world beyond traditional charity and introduce donors to more strategic and social change options, including organizing.

    Established advisory firms include Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which also manages foundations, and The Philanthropic Initiative. An individual leader in this field is Tracy Gary who has started organizations, written books, and met with hundreds of organizations to promote support of grassroots and progressive fields. She started Changemakers to advance donor education and help alternative/community funds grow by attracting new donors.

    Another advisor is Lisa Tracy, Founder of Philanthropy Vision, who helps educate both individual donors and foundations. She evolved from a career as a certified financial planner to using her experience and contacts to help direct new donors to progressive causes. She conducted a survey of traditional community foundations and learned that over half of their new money is coming though referrals from financial and legal advisors. One foundation received 90% of its new funds via these advisors. As a result, she is working with Changemakers to help alternative community funds link up with this referral resource. She says:

    If a specific nonprofit goes to a financial advisor, they shut down. They are not going to tell their clients what to fund. But that's not the case with community foundations. Advisors see them as a resource, financial and legal, to refer clients to. I've been working with progressive public grantmaking foundations, such as Chicago's Crossroads Fund by advising them to get to financial, legal advisors. Say "You already send clients to the community foundation. We're a community foundation, too." I think this is very promising. Community and conservative foundations are well set up to get the legacy [inheritance] money coming in. We're working with these intermediaries, social change grantmaking foundations, because we think they are the most well-positioned structures to go after gifts from people's wills and then redirect those gifts to community groups.

    Betsy Brill, Founder and President of Strategic Philanthropy, also helps educate donors and their advisors to consider the social justice approach to philanthropy. She develops publications and speaks to audiences of bank trust officers, financial planners and advisors and attorneys who have significant influence in guiding their clients to charitable structures. Generally our study respondents feel community organizing groups should make sure their work is on the agenda of the intermediaries, rather than approaching such financial and legal advisors directly. However Brill suggests:

    CBO's should see advisors as part of their stakeholder community. Look close by - like on their own boards. Are any board members lawyers? Or do board members know lawyers or bankers or investment people? Ask that person to bring together a handful of people who advise the wealthy. Engage that small group to reach out more broadly.

    Harry Boyte, H. H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, also offers hope:

    There are real limits to what community organizing has done to connect to the donor-advised world. The donor-advised movement has real potential for organizing because donors want to be involved in the work they fund. There was so much donor involvement in the elections. This is the beginning of a democracy movement.

    Iris Krieg, President of Iris Kreig and Associates, who advises and manages foundations, is more pessimistic about direct approach to advisors:

    You should be as creative as possible but, for all the work it would take, it won't yield much to try to reach donor advisors. Only the most creative and progressive donors would consider a real funding strategy, especially when they are just setting it up. Of consultants, only a few promote more progressive or strategic approaches...

    Large, commercial donor service firms such as Fidelity and Swabb have attracted vast sums of money into accounts that donors direct to charity. Of this set of donor advisors, Krieg joins other observers in saying:

    They are not part of the donor community, they are secretive. It would take enormous work to get through and they are not likely open to outside suggestions.

    A few study participants commented on the significant investment in phenomena like MoveOn.Org and the 527 campaigns by donors energized by the 2004 elections - this combined with voter registration activities by community organizing on an unprecedented scale. Organizing groups and intermediaries are strategizing how to make those donors aware of community organizing as a sustained base for an engaged citizenry. Greg Galluzzo, Executive Director of Gamaliel Foundation notes that, after watching the success of MoveOn.Org and the Dean campaign, they are getting much more serious about encouraging affiliates to develop a comprehensive database.

    Seth Borgos, Center for Community Change:

    There's a whole set of political donors who see electing candidates as the way to solve problems. If even a small proportion of that were transferred to supporting organizing....No one is working with them in a global way.

    Harry Boyte notes:

    The limit has not been even remotely tapped. National Voice, the 527s, the activism for this election is a window into really phenomenal ferment, both the organizing and the money raised. Organizing has to ask what is community organizing about? The same conversation needs to be held on the donor side with progressive donors. Is there a democracy movement starting?

    In summary, organizing groups are urged to be sure that potential new donors are aware of organizing as a funding option, perhaps by reaching out to donors' legal and financial advisors but, more practically, to the social justice funds or progressive philanthropy advisors that are serving newer donors. It is worth noting that many alternative and progressive funders and their advisors include "organizing" as part of the social justice/progressive agenda. A closer look, however, suggests that community organizing - with criteria of mass membership based, leadership development, multi-issue approach - does not have a high profile. Rather "organizing" can refer to activism on a range of issues or identity-based causes. So, once again, community organizing has to make a well documented, convincing case for its contributions and its relevance among these donors and potential donors as well. As for the political donors, conversations have begun on how to move community organizing into their sights. To reach these potential donors, organizing must give very careful thought to framing its work for broader audiences and to developing language that will resonate with these audiences.

    How Grantmaker Support Can Continue to Grow

    When our study participants were asked if it is worth trying to convince new foundations to support organizing or to increase existing grantmaking, overwhelmingly they responded affirmatively and suggested how it can happen:

    Hubert Dixon III, Center for Community Change: "Absolutely. There is a hunger for organizing and what it brings in helping people build a true sense of community and citizen engagement."

    James Mumm, Mothers on the Move: "Spend time, cultivating relationships with the influential funders who are followed by the other ...funders."

    Cris Doby, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation:

    Yes, much of that potential is local and organizing groups may not have the mindset to access it. It exists in community foundations and United Ways which are not swayed by arguments based on power and confrontation but by attention to the issue or by arguments based on civic engagement, leadership development, democracy, improving the local schools, etc.

    Alta Starr, New World Foundation:

    Always. It's the name of the game, it's ongoing. There is so much turnover in foundations. The way it works is to find individual program officers who buy in...You won't enormously increase funding, it's more trying to hold it steady.

    Carmen Prieto, Wieboldt Foundation:

    Yes, the way this can happen is to engage the executive director; this is the person who can present a case to the board and get new priorities adopted with the knowledge backup that will make it last.

    Henry Allen, Hyams Foundation:

    Like other things, it's building relationships, thinking strategically about who are the other funders and how can we convince them about the role of organizing in addressing the larger issues they care about.

    Jeanne Kracher, Crossroads Fund:

    I think you shouldn't try to get funders to support organizing per se. They fund in their own categories and you can't change that from the outside. But you can get them to fund certain initiatives that can fit their interests...[O]rganize funders around certain issues in order to pool resources and make them more comfortable. Organizing funders could be more nimble about helping other funders learn about the work. We've been kind of arrogant: "We're the ones who take the risks."

    The importance of effective communications in increasing grantmaker (and other donor) support of organizing

    "Does organizing use effective communications to describe its work to foundations and corporations? Would different language or different proposals describing mission and outcomes change chances of support?" This research question in our study drew some of the strongest consensus among the funders, advisors, and observers of organizing that we interviewed. It is even more important for reaching individual donors and for forging new alliances.

    Put most simply by Robert M. Johnson, consultant and former director of Wieboldt Foundation: "Sure, we need to use different language. It's not selling out. You have to appeal to the people you're communicating with."

    Here's a range of observations and advice in interviewees' own words about improving proposals and the language used to describe organizing:

    Don Elmer, Center for Community Change:

    Understand what [funders] know, believe. Ask the funder "what do you mean by your categories? When we say 'community organizing', what does that mean to you?" Then frame it in terms they understand. We need to develop skills in defining organizing in ways that won't turn people off - full of jargon. CO is such a generic term and so misleading. In the community you ask people "What are your values? What do you want to accomplish?" Why not do that with funders?

    Joe Mariano, National Training and Information Center:

    You have to learn the foundation's agenda. You need to interpret or to find someone to be an interpreter to translate to the foundation (or to the church judicatory funder in theological terms) to sell the product. You can learn how to do this. It's about language and also building trust."

    Deepak Bhargava, Center for Community Change:

    Sometimes I'm appalled at the quality of proposals going to foundations. Community organizing must understand funders' self-interest and the self-image of foundations.

    Lee Winkelman, Program Officer for Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock:

    ...they < organizers > don't understand what foundations are looking for. A big example of this is their failure to stress outcomes, and to describe outcomes in concrete language or numbers. They tend to stress the fact that the constituents came out to a meeting, for example, and not describe the outcomes of the meeting or of the campaign very well.

    Jeanne Kracher, Crossroads Fund:

    That's a problem area most in need of changing - both communications and fundraising. They're afraid of being corporate; they need to be more sophisticated. Organizing is in competition with other fields that generally do a better job. Some of it is arrogance of the field. They say "Why don't you fund organizing?" instead of "Let's talk about what you're interested in and how we may fit in".

    Hubert Dixon III, Center for Community Change:

    Most [organizers] are pretty good with traditional funders of community organizing but not with those not familiar with organizing. They are talking past them. They don't get it if you're talking lingo. We can put people off.

    Chuck Shuford, State Strategies Fund:

    The strongest [proposals] start with their vision and what they will do to accomplish it. [We] ask in applications to start with a power analysis and then state what are you going to do to address that power structure. Understand where leadership development, research, policy fit in.

    Sandra Mikush, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation:

    I've read all the proposals I care to on the "gotcha" tactics a group uses. When a group tells you over and over again how embarrassed a public official was, it's missing the point. I want to hear what the action resulted in. Make the case that organizing is making the community a healthier place. Focus the proposal on issues and how the organizing is resulting in people's lives being better.

    Sue Chinn of the Center for Community Change:

    It helps to write well. There is a lot of crappy writing. A funder doesn't understand it, the potential impact, unless they are a true believer in organizing.

    Henry Allen, Hyams Foundation:

    Let the voice of the community be heard, stories about community leaders and the impact of organizing on their lives. Be more astute about the impacts. Be clear about not overpromising. Funders want quick results and organizing is a long term investment for potentially huge results. We give organizing groups the NFG "Toolbox" so they can see the case studies that describe policy impact.

    Jody Kretzmann, Asset Based Community Development Institute

    I'll bet organizers don't want to let go of the old terminology. We find it more effective, instead of talking about "power," to talk about "a more powerful role for communities". Foundations want to know - power for what? For health, public safety, community well-being. Social capital is a key ingredient in good CO outcomes.

    Daranee Petsod, Executive Director, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees:

    When approaching foundations, framing the work as strategies for civic and community engagement, leadership development, and policy reform can be more effective. Also, connect your organizing work to the foundations' fields of interest, such as housing or health, and connect it to their goals such as improving economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities.

    Todd Dietterle:

    Language must be renewed cyclically, as foundations never want to fund activities that sound outdated.

    Cris Doby, Mott Foundation:

    Organizers need to describe what they do in language seated in values, ethics, vision, hope, progress. Listen to how their leaders describe the work. Staff-driven descriptions tend to sell a controversy vision almost exclusively.

    Alta Starr, New World Foundation, offers a somewhat different perspective:

    New language wouldn't help. If you do a power analysis of foundations, who the trustees are, where the money came from, the liberal foundations support social engineering. It's still about power. But there is room for improvement - the documentation, presentation of the work, for foundations and for each other. You have to transmit the level of excitement, the delight.

    On the topic of communications and communications strategies, as a separate field related to fundraising, we heard these suggestions:

    Sue Chinn, Center for Community Change:

    Organizing has limited communications. They don't do web sites or do them well. You need email, stay in touch with donors, send news clips, host funder briefings. Be pro-active. Invite funders to your meetings.

    Ken Rolling, Parents for Public Schools:

    You need compelling stories, training in communications. A group like Chicago Coalition for the Homeless did a great job in getting the story of the background, the implications of the work, out there. It's as important as how to do fundraising -- it's part of how you do fundraising.

    Greg Galluzzo, Gamaliel Foundation:

    There's growing awareness of the importance of organizing's image and of communications as a tool in fundraising. You need to project an image for someone to want to invest.

    Lori Bezahler, Edward W. Hazen Foundation:

    There's a great capacity to communicate but don't send me videos and CDs. I don't have time. E-mail blasts like ACORN's are effective with a 30 second scan.

    Torie Osborn, Liberty Hill Foundation:

    We're in a post-modern, media-dominated world. We had an enthusiastic response from our foundation funders when we offered community-organizing groups media training. Funders know they are getting more bang for their buck when the group has a media strategy, the ability to amplify their message. Media capacity expands the impact of organizing work, and builds the group's organizational self-esteem.

    So, in summary, here is what friends of organizing suggest to improve chances of communicating more effectively with foundation and corporate funders:

    1. Learn the funders' agendas and explore how to describe your work in ways that meet their needs.

    2. Consider what issues your work addresses and show funders how your work impacts those issues.

    3. Leave the insider language and jargon behind. Choose language carefully so that funders beyond the "true believers" understand what your organizing is working toward, how it has been and plans to be effective on specific outcomes and policy issues.

    4. Incorporate values, leaders' stories, intended impacts, and strategies to reach them.

    5. Develop a real communications plan and skills to advance both the organizing and the fundraising agendas.

    Section summary

    Foundations and other institutional grantmakers are not just important funders of community organizing; they are its single largest source of support. They provide crucial grant money and some offer counsel on how to effectively apply to their own and to other funding sources. Many grantmakers are serious advocates for organizing, encouraging other funders to support it through one-on-one peer recruitment, funder collaboratives, and programming in funder affinity associations like Neighborhood Funders Group. These activities are bearing fruit in apparent increasing support for organizing.

    While appreciating these roles, organizing groups are concerned about funder practices, sharing concerns with other nonprofit groups, including confusing, shifting guidelines and communications that waste applicant time and resources. However, organizing is different from other nonprofits, with a community-led process and different "products" and timeframes for success. Funders must understand organizing and these differences and "let organizing be organizing". Funders are urged not to control what issues organizing addresses through time-limited, restricted grants. A key question deserving ongoing discussion among organizers, their allies and funders is what is the most appropriate type of grantmaker support. Does multi-year, general operating support liberate organizing from donor direction? Should institutional grantmakers do more to encourage and enable fundraising from internal sources like members, individual donors, and businesses? There is strong consensus that diverse sources of funding, including significant internal support, builds the healthiest organizing accountable to its community.

    Longer Term Challenges and Opportunities Toward Increasing Revenue for Organizing

    The question of support for organizing is a question of power for this sector.

    There's something about organizing that we can ask public officials to spend millions on something worthwhile, but we can't ask for the money to support the organization that makes it possible. . . We have to develop that level of confidence that what we're raising money for is deserving of huge support.

    You can't separate funding and revenue streams from the purpose of organizing. The big question, tied to fundraising -is community organizing reaching its larger potential?


    We conclude this report with a look at longer term and bigger picture issues raised by our respondents, such as those suggested above by Sue Chinn of the Center for Community Change, Peter Phillips of FOCUS, and Harry Boyte of University of Minnesota -- and/or by the literature as described in the Annotated Bibliography. We focus on internal revenue sources (individuals, dues, events, earned income) for several reasons, primarily:

    • Widespread consensus in the organizing field that internal income is so key to organizing success and sustainability, as we have described throughout the report.

    • Evidence that this is "where the money is." Giving USA reports [33], for example, that 84% of all philanthropic giving comes from individuals, while but 16% comes from corporations and foundations. A growing body of research [34] documents that a $41 trillion intergenerational transfer of wealth - and, thus, new generations of donors - is underway in this country.

    At the same time, we do not sharply dichotomize internal and external sources, recognizing the pivotal importance of foundation support in building organizing and also that longer term opportunities may include alternative philanthropic structures (such as foundations created by constituency groups) that blur these lines.

    Issues, opportunities, and challenges facing local community organizing groups

    For organizing whose mission is to increase democratic participation and power at the local level, our respondents have emphasized increased internal fundraising success by honing traditional methods - dues, , donations, events, and local business drives. Their "promising practices" include, most importantly, creating a culture for fundraising in the organization that integrates organizing money with organizing people, focusing staff time and attention to fundraising, developing a longer term plan for organizing and for fundraising, increasing leadership involvement in fundraising, making technology a tool in fundraising, improving communications of their benefits, and so forth.

    The changing local environment poses challenges and opportunities for organizing fundraising

    Several experts suggested that longer term trends in local communities in which organizing has a presence - gentrification, globalization, policy changes such as CRA -- present new fundraising opportunities or challenges. John Calkins, Executive Director of DART, noted that their annual corporate drive is more effective in communities in which corporations are headquartered; any changes over time in the locations of corporate headquarters as they merge, acquire, or move to larger or cheaper spaces would thus affect affiliates' fundraising positively or negatively. Randy Stoecker of the University of Wisconsin and Gary Delgado of the Applied Research Center have observed that organizing around the Community Reinvestment Act has leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars into local communities, and Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change, noted that ACORN's litigation of Household Finance also did. To what extent has this work generated new revenue - in the form of contributions from financial institutions, and, longer term, from higher income individuals - for organizing? These seem to us important questions for further examination.

    Local organizing might benefit from examining the fundraising and organizing effectiveness of evangelical organizations

    While we heard much concern about the overall adequacy of investments - external as well as internal - in local community organizing, author and scholar William Schambra, Director of the Bradley Center of the Hudson Institute, observed that conservative organizing at the local community level is supported well by the Christian Right and by conservative donors. He says:

    It would be fascinating to look at evangelical organizations to see how they combine civic engagement and philanthropic resources. See how they've done it. It's all built on community organizing. Within these enormous churches are all of these countless small groups focused on small issues - divorced mothers over 30. The organizing is astonishing. And on election day, they all come out. It's all rooted in what Alinsky would understand. It's highly effective.

    Some "new wealth" donors are indeed interested in investing in local communities

    And he and others note that many "new wealth" donors are indeed interested in local communities, even if they are unaware of the benefits of investing in community organizing as a local community improvement strategy. Schambra says:

    The new wealth is . . . not the big foundations but folks who want to see concrete things happen in their back yard. There is opportunity. We have to shake the doctrine that there is just one way, the Council on Foundations way, with all their panels on funder effectiveness. We need an alternative form of philanthropy that says it's ok to go into a neighborhood and ask them what they are interested in, are organizing around, and then to fund it, regardless of what it is.

    And George Penick, Executive Director of the Foundation for the Mid South, observes:

    The Waltons are working with us < Foundation for the Mid South >; they have an interest in the Delta. They had funded programs but wanted to support place-based. Their primary interest is education, but they'll also support CDCs, job creation, child care, leadership development. They asked us to work with them in two places, calling them Communities of Opportunity. You can fund programs but unless the community is organized, it's water in the sand.

    Lest we paint too rosy a picture, two respondents observed the disappointment of organizing advocates as E bay wealth backed off from investing in organizing: Pierrot Omidyar (E Bay founder) had expressed an interest in funding social justice in local communities, but also an interest in making his philanthropy businesslike. The board decided to fund community level social ventures.

    Some see fundraising potential in of new alliances, products, services

    Syd Beane of the Center for Community Change sees potential for expanding the revenue base of local level organizing in creating new alliances at the local level. He illustrates by describing a community technology alliance that includes local leadership development organizing training, funded through education funds. We described several successful efforts earlier in our report through which organizing groups provided government services in ways that also built their organizing and revenue bases, with Steve Kest of ACORN observing that "service delivery can generate new funding sources . . . < in ways that > benefit both our fundraising and our membership."

    While services provision, coalitions, and community development partnerships are still hotly debated in the organizing field - do they build or co-opt the organizing agenda? - Beane urges us to "re-think the boundaries of organizing at the local level, building new alliances to increase organizing power but also to expand revenue bases."

    Some see fundraising challenges posed by the relatively small size of most local organizing groups and the distinct nature of organizing

    Several respondents note that the structures of local community organizing groups - as small, relatively (in some cases, completely) autonomous organizations -- limit their capacity to implement diverse giving strategies. Simply, a $200K organization with no fundraising professionals is not going to be able to put forth the array of giving opportunities that a $20M organization with a development director, a marketing director, an annual giving director, and a planned giving director are going to be able to do.

    Alta Starr of the New World Foundation and Jeanne Kracher of the Crossroads Fund noted this problem, and hope that more organizing groups can collaborate, as the Northwest Federation of Community Organization members have done, to increase their foundation fundraising capacity.

    Starr: "It would be fascinating if a pool of money were put together so groups could have a development staff."

    Kracher: "I'd like to see groups undertaking fundraising together, and developing better collective thought on how to pool resources, both nonprofits and funders."

    These very challenges suggest great opportunity for intermediaries and organizing networks to create the economies of scale that would support more diverse revenue generation in all areas of fundraising.

    Leroy Johnson, Executive Director of Southern Echo, Inc., affirms this direction:

    We're trying a new thing: bringing small groups together to go at funding collectively. We meet with potential funders and ask them, say, to give $250,000 to 6 organizing groups.

    In addition to the constraint of relying on staff generalists for fundraising, organizing's structures and purposes place constraints on its fundraising that other nonprofits do not face. How can it develop donor recognition and incentives in ways that do not suggest privileged status in an organization that above all else values democracy and equality? How can it develop events that are owned by and affordable to the community, but make money? Which corporate partners should be off bounds to which organizations because their products or practices are inimical to the goals of organizing? Questions such as these seem to warrant wider discussion within sectors of the organizing field and within individual organizations toward gaining workable answers for organizing fundraising.

    The revenue generation potential of broadening the vision, scope, visibility, and scale of community organizing

    Several experts we talked with believe that organizing must broaden its vision, its scope its visibility, and its scale to achieve the kinds of improvements in local communities it seeks, and they also observe that such a broadened focus will open up new resources for organizing.

    Observes Don Elmer, field organizer for the Center for Community Change:

    There's a tiny vision around it < organizing >. No scale. At the beginning in the 60s and 70s salaries were so low it was about subsistence, not thriving. We had a glut of talent, people who wanted to learn organizing; we got by with not paying them much. We never thought big on organizing OR money. When people are willing to go to a larger vision, money will follow . . . On organizing, there isn't necessarily the techniques or the confidence. The culture drags it down. We've been hampered by small vision. You can't find targets in the neighborhoods any more. We have an organizing methodology so isolated from the national issues.

    Noting a longer term shift in the locus of public policy making responsibility from the local to the state level, Chuck Shuford, Director of the State Strategies Fund, observed that a higher proportion of citizen involvement in public life must also happen at the state level:

    With devolution and the growing sophistication of organizing, we < those involved in creating the Fund > observed that groups have to function at the state level. The Fund supports both voter engagement and public policy agendas. We hope to make a leap forward, move groups beyond the limits of a $400,000 budget. We think they need to be supported at the million < dollar > level to be truly state-level and effective.

    Several respondents are thinking even bigger - about building national level alliances within organizing, between organizing and unions, and with progressive political groups to build organizing's power . . . and revenue base. Observe Greg Galluzzo, Executive Director of the Gamaliel Foundation, and Deepak Bhargava:

    Working on broader, national issues is bringing in money from new sources and at higher levels. Examples are Get Out the Vote Campaign/Rolling Thunder and the immigration rights campaign. New donors and funders provide support and at higher level. Our alliance with unions is helping attract new donors, as has being part of coalitions.
    We want to do cross-network work to open up new sources, new donors. In working together in cross-network initiatives like electoral issues, you can incorporate better training in the networks and perhaps intermediaries can do specialized training.

    While our interviews took place too early to yield solid reflections on the past general election and the great fundraising successes of the 527's, several respondents note the potential of engaging such donors in supporting organizing. Seth Borgos of the Center for Community Change:

    There's a whole set of political donors who see electing candidates as the way to solve problems. If even a small proportion of that were transferred to supporting organizing....No one is working with them in a global way.

    In tapping into this donor energy at the broad, national level, several respondents noted that organizing will have to reach out more effectively to the middle (and above) class. Consultant and former executive of the Wieboldt Foundation Robert M. Johnson observed how effectively Barack Obama (a former organizer) appealed to issues of common values and concern across class in building a donor base for his successful senatorial campaign. Harry Boyte of the University of Minnesota is more provocative:

    My basic argument is that if organizing became also about issues of the middle class, you'd get a shift to donors thinking about self-interest, not about charity. Organizers tend to think about the poor and working class as a group to be organized but about the middle class as individuals.

    Syd Beane summarizes this argument for a broader frame of organizing for broader impact . . . and increased revenue support:

    We have to rethink. . . our fundraising strategies, seek out alliances we haven't before. We need alliances of organizers and activists across a variety of issues to tie together in a national agenda

    Finally, several respondents observed that organizing lacks clear, consistent messages about its purposes and benefits, framed in ways that prospective donors will want to invest in. While many of our respondents specifically addressed the issue of better communications with foundations, their observations about organizing communications apply just as strongly to individual donors.

    Greg Galluzzo's long-term challenge to the field is worth repeating:

    There's growing awareness of the importance of organizing's image and of communications as a tool in fundraising. You need to project an image for someone to want to invest.

    Daranee Petsod, Executive Director of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees:

    "< Describing organizing in the traditional > style is so tiresome. More effective is talking about civic and community engagement rather than organizing. Foundations < and, we add, individual investors > tend to think in categories like housing, youth, health. Talk about your outcomes in these areas."

    Jody Kretzmann, Founder and Co-Director of Asset Based Community Development Institute:

    I'll bet organizers don't want to let go of the old terminology. We find it more effective, instead of talking about 'power', to talk about 'a more powerful role for communities'. < to improve > health, public safety, community well-being.

    Deepak Bhargava:

    The key is to frame community organizing so it is not marginal to the big issues like policy and politics.

    Our own review of various organizing and philanthropic giving websites, conducted in the course of compiling the bibliography on organizing fundraising, found no easy way for prospective donors to learn about organizing and its results. Part of the challenge of increasing organizing's visibility and credibility with donors is figuring out how to create a "go to" place for information about organizing and its results that is well-marketed to funders, donors, philanthropic advisors, and the media, and that, at the same time, celebrates - and links to -- the rich diversity of networks, approaches, and communities in which organizing works.

    Observes Seth Borgos:

    Issues of vision, scope, visibility, and scale > are related, because part of what's required to raise the profile of organizing is to make it look bigger to people, and part of what's required is a sustained and sophisticated marketing effort which is beyond the capacity of local organizations. Whether it's through networks, or intermediaries, or some other form of aggregation, organizing needs to scale up in order to meet the challenges you identify.

    Building a culture within organizing that supports diverse revenue generation

    While the key opportunities at the national and state level may be related to increased issue-related foundation funding and to capturing donors drawn to progressive 527s, the increased opportunities that intrigue staff and leaders of local organizations are for locally-generated hard money.

    One of the major findings of this study is that neither technical (fundraising techniques) or external factors - the cyclical downturns of the economy, the decreasing national attention to the quality of life in low income communities, the globalization of the corporate world (thus weakening corporate ties to local communities), and a general "malaise," as June Rostan of the Southern Empowerment Project put it, in the broader social justice sector - are as significant challenges to building strong, diverse revenue bases for community organizing as is the culture of organizing itself. Many respondents observe that organizing has evolved a culture that:

    • sees fundraising not as one half of the "organized people/organizing money" equation, but, rather, as a necessary evil and a distraction from "real" organizing;

    • is often staffed by people who have personal discomfort in asking people -- both wealthy and low income -- for money; and

    • may view corporate and foundation fundraising as inimical to organizing ends, since corporations, the government, and foundations with corporate board members are targets or at best "temporary allies" of organizing campaigns, not partners.

    The organizers we interviewed who were nominated by their peers as effective revenue generators without exception exemplify how to turn this culture on its head: these organizers see the connection between fundraising and power building; they integrate fundraising with membership and leadership development activities; they view fundraising as an organizing challenge, like any issues campaign; and, with their leaders, they continually build donor and funder relationships. Many have even come to enjoy fundraising. That these organizers are around and thriving hints that the larger cultural barriers to effective fundraising that have been endemic to the field may be eroding.

    We have described some promising practices in changing this culture, with a focus on the development and support of organizers who are comfortable with fundraising. Both Sonya Garcia, Executive Director, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, and Daranee Petsod particularly observed the fundraising creativity and energy of some new young organizers. Other culture-changing practices: more and better training of organizers, bringing in fundraising staff when overall revenues permit such specialization (Steve Kest of ACORN told us that hiring staff who have political fundraising contacts and success is his top priority in increasing individual donations to ACORN), and emerging efforts to expand organizing alliances and re-think strategies as Greg Galluzzo, Deepak Bhargava, Syd Beane and others have proposed.

    A key challenge is cyclical: community organizing groups need predictable, diverse revenue bases to attract and hold organizers committed for the long run, and they need organizers committed to the long run to build predictable, diverse revenue bases. Greg Galluzzo observes that the "old rule" of "two years and you're up or out" does not effectively build donor relationships. And Deepak Bhargava notes that building a diverse internal funding base is a long-run process, and one major reason organizers become foundation-reliant. All stakeholders in community organizing have critical opportunities to address this issue: foundations, in providing more core, long term support to enable talented organizers to build internal fundraising capacity; networks and intermediaries, in recruiting and training organizers and leaders who will be effective fundraisers; organizers, in transcending their natural fears and anxieties about building relationships with members and donors; and the entire field in better communicating to emerging donor communities the importance of and the return on investments in community organizing.

    Appendix I: How One Foundation Came to Support Community Organizing
    by Jean Rudd

    How do foundations determine their priorities and how can community organizing rise as a priority among the many fields in which foundations invest? This is a summary of how one broad-purpose foundation came to focus support on community organizing.

    Woods Charitable Fund was created in 1941 as a family foundation contributing to the two cities where the Woods family held business interests - Chicago, Illinois and Lincoln, Nebraska. Like many family foundations, it started and operated for years with general, nonspecific guidelines. And like many family foundations early in their lives, funding decisions were heavily influenced by one or two senior family members. Frank Woods, a son of the founding generation, had an enlightened approach to grantmaking. He believed foundations should support major cultural and civic groups and United Ways but also take risks, support smaller and activist groups, and help address inequities. His foundation contributed to both ends of the spectrum with the largest grants to the larger groups.

    Without foundation staff to explore less familiar nonprofits, in the 1970s Frank Woods sought the counsel of other foundations' staff who did support such groups. One early guide was Peter Hunt who ran a public fund called Urban Dynamics/Inner City Fund in Chicago (now dissolved). Another guide was Robert M. Johnson, former Executive Director of the Wieboldt Foundation, for decades a funder of community organizing. A missionary spreading the gospel, Bob assisted people like Frank Woods in funding grassroots action.

    With Frank Woods' death, the remaining small board agreed in 1980 to hire a staff person to process applications that continued to arrive. And with the tiny board of trustees diminished by its most influential member, two next generation cousins were recruited. I was that new staff person and quickly realized that the foundation's general guidelines provided no guidance for either applicants or for the foundation to determine the most likely candidates among the hundreds of eligible nonprofits. The foundation board and staff needed to collectively develop a sense of mission and set priorities.

    To do so, we surveyed the board members and over 70 civic and community leaders in the two cities where the foundation made grants. We asked what is the role of foundations as distinguished from other forms of philanthropy? What are our area's strengths, what opportunities exist to improve our city, and what are our greatest problems? Where is philanthropy underinvested and where could a focused grant program of this size have a useful impact? What leadership is needed in our city?

    We tabulated responses to the survey and found that the public school system was the most frequently cited concern, with affordable housing close behind. But a theme that united so many of the varied responses was a wish for what is now called "civic engagement". No matter what the issues that respondents wanted addressed, they often noted that people should get involved, they should identify the origin of problems or propose practical improvements from the ground-level up. More conservative commentators wanted to see poor people and neighborhoods taking responsibility to change their options. More liberal commentators cited injustices and inequities in city services or access to opportunities and wanted people to organize and work strategically on solutions. All parts of the political spectrum worried about divisiveness, unresponsive political systems, and isolation of people within their own groups and communities.

    Instead of selecting a specific issue area to focus on, the foundation came to view community organizing as a strategy to enable people to address their range of community concerns. The leadership training inherent in good organizing appealed to the foundation board, as did the goal of holding accountable government agencies and other policy makers. The Fund decided to increase its support of organizing initially to about one-third of its annual grants. (Clearly there were more opportunities to support organizing in Chicago than in Lincoln and this selection of organizing helped lead to separate guidelines in the two cities. Eventually the Fund divided into two separate foundations with a new Woods Fund of Chicago maintaining and expanding support of organizing.)

    Having made a few grants to organizing in the past, under the tutelage of other foundation leaders, the Woods board was somewhat familiar with the field. But they had many questions about the proposals that focused so much on the process of organizing rather than on specific objectives, expected results, and evidence that it was effective. (These questions never disappeared.) To better understand how organizing actually goes about its work, the staff developed informal board training. Board members were encouraged - pushed - to go on neighborhood visits to organizing locales, sometimes in a minivan with an organizer as guide. They partnered with staff on proposal site visits to talk with volunteer leaders from organizing applicants. Occasionally representatives of funded groups were asked to join board meeting lunches, describe their work, and answer board members' burning questions. Once the foundation held a dinner for organizers and board members to meet informally and discuss organizing work over a meal.

    The foundation also set up an advisory group for the organizing grant program, made up of organizers and "expert observers" such as academics interested in the field. Foundation board members were invited to attend these meetings or read summaries after the fact. In the mid-1980s one such advisor was somewhat new to organizing but a great analyst and interpreter of organizing - Barack Obama. He later became a highly valued board member and then board chairman. He also chaired a group of organizers to advise the Fund on an outside evaluation of its organizing grant program that the foundation commissioned. Those conversations, challenging assumptions and practices in organizing, stimulated some important new relationships, insights and even developments in Chicago organizing.

    The Woods Fund worked to raise broader awareness of the organizing field. Staff approached other foundations to help sponsor a Community Organizing Award to recognize organizing accomplishments and offer a cash grant to winners. This annual award engages both the sponsoring foundations and a broader group of funders and nonprofit leaders who attend the awards ceremony to reflect on and celebrate community organizing. Woods staff are also active in the Donors Forum, a regional association of grantmakers, using that forum to encourage understanding of organizing. It pushed with others to put community organizing on the agenda of the annual Council on Foundations meetings and presented there findings of its evaluation of its organizing grant program. Hundreds of copies of that evaluation were disseminated to funders around the country. Staff also reached out to new foundation executive directors and program officers to develop relationships and share experiences on funding organizing.

    Each foundation sets its priorities differently. Staff, board members and other foundation staff are among the key agents of influence. Organizers and their leaders, given a chance, are effective spokespersons with their personal stories of how organizing enables change. For over 20 years Woods Fund has invited organizing proposals, joining other foundations that support it as a priority and, increasingly, other funders that focus on the issues that groups address using organizing as a strategy.

    Appendix II: A Framework for Assessing the Strengths and Limitations of Different Revenue Sources for Community Organizing
    (For use by individual organizations, taking into account their own expectations and environment)
    Revenue source How well it helps build the organization How reliable it is How flexible it is How consonant it is with organizing values and principles How much potential for ethical conflicts it raises How efficient it is to manage How strongly it threatens organizational autonomy
    Grants from independent, community, church, or corporate foundations              
    Government grants and contracts              
    Donations and planned giving from individuals              
    Corporate donations and drives              
    Earned income              
    Workplace giving              
    Subsidies from networks              

    Appendix III: Methodology

    This study draws from a review of the research and practice literature on organizing and fundraising, a quantitative analysis of budget and fundraising data of a nationwide sample of organizing groups, interviews with experts - former organizers, funders, network officials, academics, and others - in the organizing field, and interviews with organizers nominated by their peers to be excellent at both fundraising and organizing. This appendix details the methodology for the project summarized on pages 2-3.

    Action research stance

    This study was undertaken solely for the purpose of increasing revenue support for community organizing. We are not testing hypotheses, conducting formal case studies, purporting to produce findings of generalizable interest beyond organizing, etc. We are more simply trying to take a broader, more focused, and more systematic look than has been attempted heretofore to learn how organizing raises revenue and what might be done to increase and diversify its revenue base.

    Feasibility assessment

    Once we conceived the research idea, we spent several months reviewing literature and talking informally with organizers, organizing experts, and funders to hone the project's purposes and to determine if we could get good data on a topic that had been the focus of so little discussion and previous research. Questions of focus during the feasibility assessment phase:

    • To what extent should we focus only or primarily on non-foundation revenue sources, or include increasing foundation support of organizing as one of the project's foci? Upon reviewing the available practice and research literature and discussing this issue with advisors to and prospective funders of the project, we decided to include some focus on how foundations can better support organizing and how organizing can more effectively raise foundation grants.

    • To what extent will successful organizer-fundraisers be willing to share their practices with others? With a small grant from the Woods Fund of Chicago, we convened a group of 9 organizers and organizing fundraisers from the metro Chicago area in March 2004. From this group, we learned that organizers are indeed very interested in the proposed study and that they also are very willing to share practices and ideas (but not specific fundraising prospects). Advice from this group - "we don't need general fundraising tips; we do need to know as specifically as possible how other organizers have successfully implemented a particular fundraising strategy" - shaped the study significantly.

    • Can we get good quantitative data to examine revenue patterns in organizing? See "quantitative data on organizing revenue" discussion below.

    Research questions

    1. How are community organizing groups presently funded? How, and to what extent, do sources such as government funds, earned income, social ventures, and the Internet diversify the usual mix of foundation grants, membership dues, and grassroots fundraising revenues?

    2. What is organizing's assessment of each of its major revenue sources with respect to:

      • Strengths and weaknesses in building its organization for the long run?

      • Reliability? Flexibility? Growth potential?

      • Adherence to organizing principles and values?

      • Potential for ethical conflict with organizing issues?

      • Administrative efficiency?

      • Real and perceived strings?

    3. To what extent could membership and dues income, grassroots fundraising, and other non-foundation revenue sources be better developed if organizers had stronger fundraising capacity?

      • How do organizers presently learn to raise revenue?

      • How do they keep up with emerging developments in nonprofit fundraising?

      • How helpful do they find intermediaries, professional networks, and special fundraising workshops, courses or institutes?

      • Whose job is fundraising? How would staffing strategies have to change to build fundraising capacity?

    4. What is the role of foundation support in organizing? Has this role changed over recent time? Can organizing expand its foundation and corporate support through more effective fundraising and communications practices? How?

    5. Are there any long-term trends that affect - negatively and/or positively -- organizing's ability to raise funds? What is organizing doing to overcome or take advantage of these trends?

    Quantitative data on organizing revenue

    Knowing how useful IRS Form 990 data has been in analyzing the revenues of some nonprofits, we pulled down the Form 990 (from of a purposively sampled group of widely respected organizing groups during the feasibility phase of the study to see what these data could tell us. What we discovered was, essentially, "not much." The Form 990 can provide information on how the organization communicates its purposes, how large the organization is, what its overall fundraising history is, if there are any staff or consultants who earn more than $50,000, and how much revenue it raises from government, fees for service, events, dues that provide direct member benefits, and earned income. But because "direct public support" includes dues that do not provide direct member benefits, individual donations, foundation grants, and corporate contributions, the Form 990 cannot provide us with sufficient detail on the "bread and butter" organizing revenue streams to be of much use. Further, we found many errors and gaps in information on the Form 990 - few groups completed the information on staff; many reported dues income incorrectly; and one even reported its public support as governmental - and, thus, we decided not to use the data at all. Since the Form 990 is the source of organizational information for many prospective donors, we recommend that the organizing community explore ways to make it a more effective tool in building donor support for organizing.

    As we abandoned the Form 990 database, we turned to the idea of grantee files, recognizing that funders of organizing would a) have information on many organizing groups in one place, b) ask for information about budgets and revenues, and c) screen out organizations that were not effective in their organizing and their fundraising. Recognizing that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is the largest single funder of organizing nationwide, Jane Beckett of our team asked Renee Brereton of the Campaign if - assuring anonymity and confidentiality - we could obtain records of CCHD grantees for the purposes of analyzing organizing revenues presently. She graciously agreed - if CCHD grantees would give her permission to do so. We gained such grantee permission via e mail communication, with CCHD inviting any CCHD grantee that did not wish to have their records reviewed by our team to opt out of our study. None did. Our research assistant, Katie Claussen, retrieved CCHD grantee files and entered budget and financial information for the years FY 2000-FY 2002 into an SPSS database. She also logged the names and grant sizes of all grants awarded to CCHD grantees over a three year period into an Excel file.

    We mention in the report narrative that readers should be cautioned that the CCHD data entered are those provided by the grant applicant. In some cases, the data are actual, audited figures. In other cases, they are what the applicant remembers. Also, the data are not uniform: some grantees provided detailed data on individual donors and funders; others provided more general information. Not all grantees used the same fundraising terms and categories in the same ways, so we developed one classification - "other grassroots" - to include information too general to classify elsewhere.

    We then determined that not all entries in the CCHD database met our definition of organizing, particularly because CCHD funds organizing projects and we were interested in organizing organizations. We trimmed about 40 projects from the database to get our final database of 240 organizations.

    We used SPSS to summarize and analyze the data, coupling medians with means when we thought the influence of outliers would skew the mean, and running some correlation coefficients to examine the strength of some associations, particularly those described in previous research on organizing revenues.

    Expert interviews

    We changed methodology midstream with respect to expert interviews. Initially, we planned to interview a handful of widely regarded organizing experts to begin to build a "snowball sample" of names of effective organizer-fundraisers. ("Who in the organizing field is doing effective fundraising?" "Who else should we talk with?") In the course of the nominations process, however, these experts - organizers, former organizers, network officials, academics, funders, and technical assistance providers - shared so many practice examples and insights that we developed a fuller interview guide and expanded the list of experts to talk with. Experts were interviewed by Jean Rudd and Jane Beckett of our team. Most interviews were held one on one over the phone; some were held face to face. The interview guide is attached.

    Expert interviews were culled by each member of the research team for different purposes. Jane drew on respondents and interview questions that addressed fundraising practices and "infrastructure" (organizational development, training, resources, etc.). Jean focused on expert interviews with and about funders, analyzing responses about how organizing can improve grantseeking practice, how funders are building peer support to increase foundation investments and effectiveness in funding organizing, etc. Sandy integrated "bigger picture" and "longer view" responses into the concluding section.

    Organizer interviews

    Jane Beckett than developed an interview guide to learn in as much descriptive detail as we could what effective organizer-fundraisers did to raise funds, how they did it, and what they thought about the present and future of organizing fundraising. These interviews were also largely conducted by phone, with a few, face to face. That so many organizers actually participated in these interviews, and so thoroughly and thoughtfully, is, we think, testimony to the timeliness of the study. This interview guide is also attached.

    Jane culled descriptions of specific fundraising practices from these interviews and also summarized them to develop broader-brush analyses of how organizing uses and perceives specific fundraising practices, what the major barriers are to increasing fundraising effectiveness, how to build organizations that support effective fundraising, and so forth.

    Group interviews

    We conducted two group interviews for different purposes in the course of the study. The first, as we noted earlier, was with 9 Chicago area organizers and organizer-fundraisers to inform project feasibility and to focus us on what organizers wanted most to learn about. The second was with a group of 16 Chicago area community organizations that participate together in a capacity building project: this group informed Jane's discussion of fundraising barriers. A second meeting with this group is scheduled to gain their feedback on the usefulness of our preliminary findings.

    Participant observation

    While we have focused on the voices of interview respondents and the data provided by organizing grantees of the CCHD, this study also draws liberally from the experiences and reflections of Jane, a former organizer, funder of organizing, and leader and member of social justice groups, and Jean, who created a longstanding and highly respected organizing grantmaking program during her tenure as President of the Woods Fund of Chicago. Jane's discussion of effective organizing fundraising practices is thus informed by her own experience, and Jean's discussion of effective funder practices includes a brief case study of her experience in making organizing a focus of the foundation she led.

    Appendix IV: Instrumentation

    Expert Interview Guide

    Questions about fundraising practices and skills

    Which community organizing groups or individuals in them are doing especially effective fundraising from diverse sources?

    • Which are especially effective with membership dues, special events, and other "grassroots" fundraising sources?

    • Which are innovating and/or finding success beyond foundation grants, memberships, and special events, with less traditional sources such as on line or tech based contributions; partnerships with businesses, unions, policy groups or others; coalitions or collaborative fundraising, accessing venture capitalists; accessing the new investment services, etc.?

    • Are there any community organizing groups you know who do well at getting government grants that fully support their organizing goals?

    Do networks and training institutes provide effective fundraising instruction and support? Which excel at this?

    What other ways do community organizing groups or their people learn fundraising? Do they consult books, like Kim Klein's or others?

    Who is responsible for fundraising in organizing and is that changing?

    What are the barriers to community organizing groups learning more effective fundraising practices and tools?

    How do organizing groups feel about fundraising? Are there issues in the culture of organizing that encourage or inhibit successful fundraising?

    What could help organizing groups - staff and leaders - to become more effective fundraisers? What is needed, what works?

    Do you see trends or changing practices in how organizing groups fundraise, either in their practices or sources of support?

    What is an ideal or appropriate mix of sources of support for community organizing - proportion from foundations, dues, local support, etc.?

    Questions about and/or for funders and donors

    Is it possible or worth trying to convince additional foundations to support community organizing or to increase their support? How?

    Does organizing use effective communications to describe their work to foundations? Would different language or different proposals describing their mission and outcomes change their chances of support?

    Do many foundations find organizing "radical"? Do they understand organizing?

    What is the role of community foundations in supporting community organizing and is their support increasing or decreasing, especially with more donor-advised funds?

    Can foundations be encouraged to support community organizing by intermediaries, consultants, collaboration partners, board members, or other donors supportive of community organizing? What might positively influence foundations to support community organizing?

    Have large foundation grants reduced local support and dues in community organizing groups?

    Do you have any ideas about if/how the foundation community can help get community organizing "on the screen" of new generations of donors, such as tech wealth and those who are advised by financial planners, estate attorneys, or firms like Fidelity and Schwab?

    Interview guide with community organizers

    1. What date was this organization founded? (Form 990 does ask; CCHD does not.)

    2. Is your membership institutional based, individual based, or both?

    3. Are you affiliated with a network?

    4. We would first like to learn how you raise funds in your organization.

      • Who on staff is responsible for fundraising? How much time does each of these people give to fundraising? How much of this time is spent exploring new fundraising sources or products?

      • Does the Board have formal - written-responsibilities for fundraising? What are they?

      • Do members have formal responsibilities for fundraising? What are they?

      • Do you retain fundraising or grantwriting consultants? If so, how much time do they devote to your organization? And what are their responsibilities?

      • Do you have a fundraising plan? For what period? Do you use it?

    5. We'd also like to learn about how you learned to raise funds.

      • Where did you receive basic organizing training? Did this training cover fundraising practices? What did you learn?

      • Have you ever taken fundraising courses or workshops? If so, where? Were these courses/workshops specifically for organizers or generic to nonprofits? What did you learn?

      • Has anyone on your Board ever taken classes/workshops in fundraising?

    6. Now we'd like to learn in some detail what funds you are presently raising.

      1. What funds have you raised this year from:

        • dues - how many dues-paying members do you have and what levels of dues do you set for various members?
        • local businesses;
        • fees for services;
        • online;
        • earned income ventures;
        • individual donations (not major donors);
        • major donors;
        • alliances/partnerships with universities;
        • alliances/partnerships with unions;
        • special events - what are your events?
        • etc.

      2. Can you provide us with a breakout of your grants income for the current year? Who are your major foundation and corporate funders? Is this a "typical" year or anomalous - have you lost any previously steady funders or gained any new ones?

    7. And we'd like to learn how you and your Board are thinking about raising funds.

      • Do you enjoy fundraising? Do you believe that fundraising helps your organizing, does it seem like a distraction, or is somewhere along a continuum (neither helpful nor a distraction)?

      • How satisfied are you with your current revenue mix? What size revenue budget would you like to raise to support your organization's mission, and what would the ideal mix of revenue streams be in your opinion?

      • How are you, your staff, and your Board working together to identify new revenue sources, new prospective donors, etc.? Which "nontraditional" (beyond grants, dues, and events) revenue sources are you most focused on now? Most interested in learning more about?

    8. Why has your organization been successful at (the type of fundraising at which it excels)?

    9. What resources have had to be committed to achieve this success?

    10. What organizational structures/strengths have been necessary?

    11. What have you had to make top-priority in order to get it done?

    12. What in your organization's environment has helped make it possible?

    13. What obstacles have to be dealt with?

    14. Future oriented questions:

      • How would you like to learn about fundraising? What sources? What formats?

      • What do you need in order to raise more money? What staff skills? What leadership involvement?

      • What's holding your organization back from increased income?

    15. Anything else?

    Appendix V: Study participants


    Nancy Aardema Executive Director, Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA)
    Warren Adams-Leavitt Former Executive Director, Kansas City Congregational Community Organization
    Henry Allen Program Officer, Hyams Foundation
    Syd Beane Minneapolis Office Director, Center for Community Change
    Lori Bezahler President, Edward W. Hazen Foundation
    Deepak Bhargava Executive Director, Center for Community Change
    Seth Borgos Deputy Executive Director for Research and Development, Center for Community Change
    Harry Boyte H. H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, Center for Democracy and Citizenship, University of Minnesota
    Betsy Brill Founder and President, Strategic Philanthropy
    Don Burton Communications Director, Gamaliel Foundation
    Cindy Bush Former Executive Director, Interfaith Federation of Northwest Indiana
    John Calkins Executive Director of Direct Action and Research Training Center, Inc. (DART)
    Sue Chinn Former Executive Director, Discount Foundation; Chief of Staff and Associate Director, Center for Community Change
    Alice Cottingham Executive Director, Girls Best Friend Foundation; former director, Fund for Immigrants and Refugees
    Todd Dietterle Wilhelm & Conlon Public Strategies
    Hubert Dixon III Pool of Talent/Southern Team Leader, Center for Community Change
    Cris Doby Program Officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
    Scott Douglas Director, Greater Birmingham Ministries and Board, Needmor Fund
    Laura Dungan Executive Director, Sunflower Community Action
    Don Elmer Field Organizer, Center for Community Change
    Hugh Espey Executive Director, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
    Marjorie Fine Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock
    Joan Flanagan President, Joan Flanagan and Associates
    Ken Galdston Lead Organizer and Director, InterValley Project
    Greg Galluzzo Executive Director, Gamaliel Foundation
    Sonya Garcia Executive Director, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training
    Mike Gecan Senior Organizer, Northeast Region, Industrial Areas Foundation
    Clifford Gilmore Executive Director, Oakland Coalition of Congregations
    Marilyn Gittell Chief Evaluator of the Ford initiative , Professor of Political Science, City University of New York, Graduate School
    Ellen Gurzinsky Executive Director, The Funding Exchange
    LeeAnn Hall Executive Director, Northwest Federation of Community Organizations
    Anne Hallett Former Executive Director, Wieboldt Foundation and of the Cross City Campaign for School Reform; currently researching the funding of education organizing
    David Hatch Executive Director, Metropolitan Alliance of Congregations
    George Hemberger Former Executive Director, JACOB (Joliet Area Churches Organized Body)
    Tina Herpe Director of Development, Interfaith Worker Justice
    Josh Hoyt Executive Director, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
    Leroy Johnson Executive Director, Southern Echo, Inc.
    Robert M. Johnson Consultant, author, Former Executive Director of the Wieboldt Foundation
    Terry Keleher Program Director, Applied Research Center, Racial Justice Leadership Initiative
    Jackie Kendall Executive Director, Midwest Academy
    Steve Kest Executive Director, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now)
    Kim Klein Publisher, Grassroots Fundraising Journal
    Larry Kleinman Co-Director, PCUN (United Treeplanters and Farmworkers of the Northwest)
    Steve Klink Fund Development Director, PICO National Network
    Jeanne Kracher Executive Director, Crossroads Fund
    Jody Kretzmann Founder and Co-Director, Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD)
    Iris Krieg President, Iris Krieg and Associates
    Mike Kromrey Executive Director, Metro Organizations for People (MOP)
    Peter Kuhn Head Organizer, Los Angeles ACORN
    Anne Ladky Executive Director, Women Employed
    Burt Lauderdale Executive Director, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
    Tom Lenz Executive Director, Lake County Sponsors
    Spence Limbocker Executive Director, Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG)
    David Liners Former Executive Director, Milwaukee Innercity Alliance for Hope (MICAH); Regional Organizer, WISDOM
    Joe Mariano Executive Director, National Training and Information Center (NTIC)
    Paul Marincel Associate Director, Gamaliel Foundation
    Michele Mattioli Director of Grassroots Fundraising, Virginia Organizing Project
    John McCarthy Professor of Sociology, Penn State University and co-author of the 1994 evaluation of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
    Matt McDermott Organizer, United Power for Action and Justice
    Regina McGraw Executive Director, Wieboldt Foundation
    Sara Mersha Executive Director, Direct Action for Rights and Equality
    Sandra Mikush Vice President, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
    Andy Mott Executive Director, Community Learning Project; former Executive Director, Center for Community Change
    James Mumm Co-Director, Mothers on the Move
    Michelle Niemier Executive Director, United Seniors Action of Indiana
    Bill O'Brien Former Executive Director, Metropolitan Organizing Strategy for Enabling Strength (MOSES)
    Maureen O'Connell Executive Director, Save Our Cumberland Mountains
    David Odahowski President, Edyth Bush Foundation
    Torie Osborn Executive Director, Liberty Hill Foundation
    Rev. Robert Owens Executive Director, Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT)
    George Penick Executive Director, Foundation of the Mid-South
    Chris Peters CEO and President, Seventh Generation Fund
    Daranee Petsod Executive Director, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
    Peter Phillips Executive Director, Federations of Congregations United to Serve (FOCUS)
    Carmen Prieto Associate Director, Wieboldt Foundation
    Dennis Quirin Director of Development, Californians for Justice
    Leslie Ramyk Director, Community Organizing Capacity Building Initiative (Chicago)
    Andy Robinson Consultant, author, and trainer
    Robby Rodriguez Executive Director, Southwest Organizing Project (New Mexico)
    Ken Rolling Director, Parents for Public Schools; Board Member, Needmor Fund; formerly Associate Director of the Woods Fund of Chicago
    June Rostan Former Executive Director, Southern Empowerment Project
    Frank Sanchez Senior Program Officer, Needmor Fund
    William Schambra Director, Hudson Institute's Bradley Center on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal; formerly director of programs of Bradley Foundation
    Mark Sherman Executive Director, Progressive Technology Project
    Chuck Shuford Director, State Strategies Fund of Proteus Fund
    Ann Smith President, Gamaliel Foundation
    Juan Soto Executive Director, Pilsen Neighbors Community Council
    Alta Starr Senior Program Officer, New World Foundation
    Madeline Talbott Head Organizer, Chicago ACORN
    Lisa Tracy Founder, Philanthropy Vision
    Urvashi Vaid Former Deputy Director of the Governance and Civil Society Unit, Ford Foundation
    Lalee Vicedo Development Director, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)
    David Washington Senior Program Officer, Philadelphia Foundation
    Kevin Whelan Communications Director, ACORN
    Ron White President, Building Utopia
    Gordon Whitman Communications Director, PICO National Network
    Lee Winkelman Program Officer, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock


    Leo Arnoult Former Chair, American Association of Fund Raising Council Trust for Philanthropy (AAFRC - Giving USA)
    Bill Beckler Organizer, New Jersey Regional Coalition
    Sam Blair Lead Organizer, Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN)
    Carol Boughter Executive Director of Center for Responsible Funding; Vice President, National Alliance for Choice in Giving
    Mike Doyle Executive Director, Community Shares of Illinois
    Andrew Hastings Vice President, National Philanthropic Trust
    Sue Hutchinson Senior Program Officer, Common Counsel
    John Kenyon Consulting Director, Groundspring
    Steve Lew Fundraising Trainer, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services
    Valerie Lies President, Donors Forum of Chicago
    Ron McKinley Director, National Network of Grantmakers
    Mike Miller Organize Training Center
    Jobi Peterson Former Executive Director, Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation
    Frank Pierson Executive Director, Arizona Interfaith Network
    Miriam Pineiro Training Director, Center for Responsible Funding
    Paul Scully Executive Director, New Jersey Regional Coalition
    Rusty Stahl Executive Director, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy
    Baird Straughan Trainer, Associate Director, Institute for Conservation Leadership
    Bob Wesolowski Founder and Director, Caring Habits, Inc.

    Focus Group Participants

    Dale Asis Director, Coalition of African, Asian, European & Latino Immigrants (CAAELI)
    Jeff Bartow Executive Director, Southwest Organizing Project (Chicago)
    Katherine Bissell Director, Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues
    Lori Clark Executive Director, Jane Addams Senior Caucus
    Iris Comer Lead Organizer, Interfaith Federation of Northwest Indiana
    Robin Hood Organizer, Chicago ACORN
    Irene Juaniza Executive Director, Blocks Together
    Kathy Kish Executive Director, South Suburban Action Conference
    Sara Jane Knoy Executive Director, Organization of the NorthEast (ONE)
    Mary Lopez Executive Director, Lake County Center for Independent Living
    Idida Perez Executive Director, West Town Leadership United
    Maurice Redd Executive Director, Lawndale Neighborhood Organization
    Deborah Strickland Executive Director, Developing Communities Project
    Jhatayn Travis Executive Director, Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization
    Lou Turner Research Director, Developing Communities Project
    Patricia Watkins TARGET (Teaching Area Residents in Gresham and Englewood to Take part in) Area Development Corporation

    Advisory Committee

    Nancy Aardema Executive Director, Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA)
    Mimi Alschuler Director of Development, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
    Jenny Arwade Executive Director, Albany Park Neighborhood Council
    Jeff Bartow Executive Director, Southwest Organizing Project (Chicago)
    Kim Bobo Executive Director, Interfaith Worker Justice
    Cindy Bush Former Executive Director, Interfaith Federation of NW Indiana
    Greg Galluzzo Executive Director, Gamaliel Foundation
    Jesus Garcia Executive Director, Little Village Community Development Corporation
    Cathy Klump Director of Strategic Planning and Development, NTIC
    Joe Mariano Executive Director, NTIC
    Madeline Talbott Head Organizer, Chicago ACORN
    Richard Townsell Executive Director, Lawndale Christian Development Corporation
    Patricia Watkins TARGET (Teaching Area Residents in Gresham and Englewood to Take part in) Area Development Corporation

    Appendix VI: Generating Revenue for Community Organizing: An Annotated Bibliography


    This Annotated Bibliography is a search for what has already been written about the topic of promising practices in revenue generation for community organizing, and what has been written more broadly about fundraising for change-oriented nonprofits that might be relevant to the organizing field. While arguably of limited interest to organizers, grantmakers, and other practitioners, we begin with a review of the research literature, to make sure that our present study builds on what is already known. Beyond this research literature, we summarize some popular literature, via browsing the web and scanning a variety of practice oriented books, newsletters and journals. Because of the diffuseness of the organizing field and, thus, its knowledge base, what follows in no way pretends to capture all that has been written about this topic. We rather seek to summarize some key documents and guide the reader through our methods of locating useful practice information.

    Studies of Community Organizing

    Previous research focused on revenue generation or fundraising in community organizing.

    Since good research builds on previous research, we sought most of all from our literature review to identify studies with a focus similar to ours. While several of the more general studies of community organizing described in the following section, particularly John McCarthy's 1994 study of Catholic Campaign for Human Development grantees, are particularly important and helpful to our current examination of revenue generation patterns, we could locate only three studies specifically devoted to community organizing fundraising practices. A Wilson Social Science Index search came up entirely blank (the Marquez study was too recent to index) on many different descriptors.

    Robert O. Bothwell's "Foundation Funding of Grassroots Organizations," 2001, at is a study based on telephone interviews with 22 foundation executives at 21 foundations and with 26 staff of grassroots organizations. The foundations were identified from a previous study of social change philanthropy (Jenkins and Halcli) of 20 foundations that gave the most to social change and 20 that gave the least. The grassroots organizations - defined as locally based, significantly autonomous, membership-based, and volunteer run (our note: Bothwell's definition of 'volunteer run' encompassed staffed organizations) - were nominated by 12 academic and community consultants. Structured interview guides were used that are appendixes to the report.

    Reponses were pretty predictable. Neither the grassroots organizations nor the progressive philanthropies thought the foundation investment in grassroots organizations adequate. Grassroots organizations could use additional foundation grants to add and/or support staff, create cash reserves, stabilize their organizations, expand. Grassroots organizations with paid staff were more likely to get foundation grants than those without. Both grassroots organizations and foundations blame the inadequate foundation investment in grassroots organizations on the foundations: foundations prefer more professionalized organizations, fear advocacy, are bureaucratic, etc. While grassroots organizations and foundations have some differences in opinion as to why proposals are turned down, both agree that:

    • Relationships matter, and grassroots organizations frequently lack them;
    • Track records and capacity matter, and young organizations lack them; and
    • Fit with guidelines matters.

    Foundations add: quality of proposals and plans, networks (to win changes beyond the local community level), local involvement and funding, and foundation grant review processes not generally understood by novice applicants ("we read cover letters rather than proposals").

    Bothwell provides succinct lists of "best" and "worst" grantseeking and grantmaking practices (pp.23-27), as follows.

    "Best" relationships with foundations:

    • Staff who are "our" people, organizers, or unusually empathic and hard working;
    • Willingness to provide general, continuing, and/or significant support;
    • Accessible, honest and willing to engage in two-way partnerships.

    "Best" foundation relationships with grassroots organizations:

    • "Partnership" that allows for free and honest communications and exchanges of expertise;
    • Organizations have significant local support;
    • Organizations produce significant results.

    "Worst" relationships with foundations:

    • Unintelligible or bureaucratic application stages;
    • Grant proposals not read, pulled back or declined after foundation-initiated changes were made or when a program officer left;
    • "Three year" or other term limits;
    • Perceived arbitrariness of decision making.

    "Worst" foundation relationships with grassroots organizations:

    • Grantee lying about fund used, IRS status, organizational strength, etc.;
    • Grantee illegal or unethical behavior re use of funds;
    • Grantee does not deliver programmatically.

    Benjamin Marquez' "Mexican-American Political Organizations and Philanthropy: Bankrolling a Social Movement" (Social Service Review < September 2003 >:329-346) is the single peer-reviewed research paper we could find on "our" subject and yet it is deeply flawed methodologically. We summarize the findings and then describe the flaws.

    Marquez analyzes Form 990s over a 10 year period (1991-2000) of two groups of Mexican American organizations: advocacy groups such as MALDEF, and IAF affiliates in Texas. Marquez' thesis is that external funding compromises the voice of social change organizations: "I find that Mexican-American political organizations are greatly influenced by their dependence on external funders. Gifts and grants buy the kinds of political ties that corporations, foundations, and wealthy individuals value" (p. 330). He particularly finds that community organizing is no less independent than advocacy groups: "Although they are philosophically opposed to funding their organizing work through externally generated money, IAF affiliates raise little or no money from their members and thus must accept outside funds." (p. 330).

    Marquez summarizes Saul Alinsky's thinking about external funds and the impact of that thinking on IAF affiliates today. Citing Chambers and Reitzes and Reitzes, the author observes that Alinsky thought foundation funding should only be used as 'seed money' and that community organizing should either become financially self-determining or go out of business. Texas IAF has revised this rule a bit, to assert a role for foundation funding in supporting special projects. "Texas IAF director Ernesto Cortes has long argued that IAF affiliates must be self-sufficient, with money coming 'totally from dues, from institutional dues, and money raising events'" (p. 335).

    Marquez then presents the Form 990 data, which show a picture far different from this ideal, reporting that some IAF affiliates raise no grassroots funding whatsoever, and a special fund - for community schools - dominating their budgets. The impact, again in the view of Marquez but also citing Fisher: "The Texas IAF is as politically safe as an empowerment organization can be. Over the years, it has eased its use of confrontational tactics and embraced a more cooperative approach to organizing." (p.343).

    The limitations for this study for us are threefold, and the first limitation essentially exposes a fatal flaw in the author's analysis:

    • First, the Form 990 combines individual donations, corporate contributions, and foundation grants in one line, Direct Public Support. If correctly filed, most membership dues of community organizing - dues collected to support the work of the organization - are also classified for IRS purposes as Direct Public Support. Marquez assumes that all Direct Public Support is "external" funding. It is not. This Form 990 line will include individual gifts from community residents, membership dues for which the members receive no benefit of tangible value in return, and contributions from local businesses. Marquez did have access in some cases to data that named the names of donations over $5,000 (a Form 990 completion requirement, but not a public reporting requirement), about which he could presumably make the distinction between "internal" and "external" funding, but he did not describe in great detail where he got this information and how he made the call. In sum, Marquez' conclusion that community organizing is predominantly supported externally cannot be examined, let alone confirmed, by Form 990 analysis.

    • Second, Marquez only compares Texas IAF to itself over time - he does not have sufficient comparative data to assert that organizing heavily funded by foundations or other external sources loses its edge. The changing climate of opinion might have been the reason for the less confrontational methods that Marquez saw in IAF affiliates, not the influence of its funding.

    • Lastly, the author maintains that his strong arguments are grounded in previous research - cited in the bibliography - but he does not summarize that research in the article, making the reader attempt to master the bibliography to agree or disagree with the author. Has actual, documented experience found Alinsky "right" or "wrong" about external funding? Is there empirical verification for the belief that external funders will be loathe to support confrontational tactics, very bold campaigns or disruptive politics, while internal funding sources will not? Is it empirically true that foundations make grants for organizing "in order to draw activists away from disruptive politics and into institutionalized politics," p. 333? If the bibliography indeed cites strong empirically based answers to these questions, they are so important to this article that they ought to have been summarized in the text. But we are quite dubious that there indeed is significant scholarship on these questions.

    On a more nuts-and-bolts level, the Southern Empowerment Project graciously shared with us an evaluation of their fundraising training program. Luz Guerra, "Southern Empowerment Project's Fundraising School for Community Organizing" (SEP, October 2000). The evaluation is based on interviews with SEP staff and with its fundraising school's participants. It does not capture outcomes rigorously, but it provides a glimpse of what fundraising training can accomplish.

    SEP began its Fundraising School as a small part of its organizing training. As both demand for the course and SEP staff's sense of its importance increased, it grew into a weeklong training by 1995 followed, for a time, by a three year facilitated peer support group, funded through the CCHD. SEP has now dropped the latter component. SEP developed the Fundraising School because it feared the reliance of community organizing in the Southeast on foundation grants and also sensed that organizing was missing the opportunity to make grassroots fundraising an organizing tool (p. 1). The School was and is squarely focused on the basics of grassroots fundraising. The three long-term goals of the Fundraising School are (p.2):

    • long term financial sustainability of grassroots citizens' organizations;
    • integration of fundraising and organizing processes and activities in such a way that fundraising strengthens organizing; and
    • a healthy pool of skilled fundraisers in organizing, particularly people of color.

    Participants describe the course as "eye opening," gaining a sense for the first time that asking for money is "empowering" (p. 10) and giving organizers a "more positive outlook" and "ability to see long-term" (p. 16) concerning their memberships and organizations.. Many participants reported trying a certain fundraising technique - direct mail, house party - for the first time because of the course. Six organizations were studied more intensively by the evaluator. In them, the most frequently reported change in practice as a result of the fundraising course was the development of donor tracking systems (p.17). Another change: "a nascent or growing change in attitude among staff, members, and/or Board about the relationship between fundraising and the 'real work' of the organization" (p. 18). Several organizations reported increased sums of grassroots funds raised, for example from $67K before to $120K after.

    Very few critical comments were provided by participants, except for a thoughtful critique of house parties: "It sometimes feels like the house parties are alien to the people we're doing most of the organizing with . . . The house parties we were discussing were geared toward wealthier retirees who were coming into the area . . . people talk, as low-income members, about when they've been taken to the house parties to mingle - it's sometimes a very uncomfortable situation. They feel they're being put on parade"(p. 13).

    The evaluator did not really address the three major goals of the course, other than to suggest that increased sums of grassroots fundraising were steps in the right direction toward Goal #1; to provide some anecdotal support for Goal #2; and to describe SEP's proactivity in creating the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) with the Center for Third World Organizing, to begin to achieve Goal #3. The evaluator provides an excellent "wish list" of what additional content participants wanted from the course, and praises SEP for its vision and proactivity.

    More general studies on the growth, effectiveness, and sustainability of organizing.

    We turn now to a set of studies that describe and/or analyze how community organizations sustain themselves. None of these studies focuses specifically on revenue generation practices or strategies, but all provide important glimpses into fundraising practices and patterns, glimpses that remain relevant to organizing today.

    Jerome Don Harris, "Grass-Roots Organizing in the City of Chicago" (PhD Thesis, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1980), is a very rare study of a set of community organizations over time, enabling us to see the interplay of factors that contribute to the rise and fall of community organizations. The case studies of 25 organizations show how fragile and often short-lived the organizations were, both because of rapidly changing neighborhoods and, thus, leadership bases, and because of low or lost funds. The study provides an excellent glimpse at how organizing was funded in the early '70's in Chicago. For example:

    • Catholic Charities provided a grant for training and salary support for a leader to become a paid organizer for a group in Austin (p.160).

    • A group in West Englewood got grant support from several Protestant denominations and free occupancy from a church and subsidized its organizing through government funded social services (p. 225).

    • A Southwest Side group solicited local businesses, held dances, and sponsored ad books to hire a part time organizer and pay rent. (309).

    • A group in Roseland supported a part time organizer via dues from an institutional and individual membership base (p.322).

    • Catholic Charities also paid for the salary of a Calumet Park organization's organizer (p. 341).

    • Another group, ultimately short-lived, intentionally kept its budget very small, "because raising money seemed to lead to problems that could be avoided by sticking to a very small budget" (p. 349).

    Harris believes that Alinsky-style organizing, which he calls "social movement organizing" (after McCarthy and Zald, 1973), became predominant in community organizing practice as results of two factors: a) the post WW II affluence of private philanthropy "which put philanthropic foundations in the position of having ever increasing sums of money to be directed into such activities," and b) "the development of social movement organizing as a viable middle class career," made possible, in turn, by foundation funds. He also believes that the "prime factor" underlying the rise of Alinsky-style organizing in Chicago "seems to have been the involvement of the Chicago Archdiocese of the Catholic Church in Alinsky's organizing activities" (p. 391), resulting in both local congregations' and Catholic Charities' involvement in organizing. And he believes organizing in Chicago weakened in the mid 70's when two organizing umbrellas died and the Catholic Church, under a new cardinal, lost its enthusiasm for organizing (p.393). He notes, though, that these two forces stopped the formation of new organizing groups; old ones had already developed alternative revenue streams.

    The five major funding streams of the 25 organizations in the Harris study were (p. 484):

    • Churches, local and corporate;
    • Other community organizations (coalitions that lent organizers, e.g.);
    • Foundations;
    • Businesses, local or corporate with an interest in the community; and
    • Local residents.

    "Churches are far and away the most common source of support for these organizations both during and after founding" (p. 424). From these data, Harris developed a "Sugar Daddy" hypothesis about the sustainability of community organizing: "An Alinsky organization will be created when someone is willing to put up the money to get it started, and it will survive as along as someone is willing to foot the bill" (p. 421). In his study, "< t > he only organization which did not succeed as a grass-roots community organization . . . was also the only organization never to receive any outside support towards obtaining an organizer" (pp. 442-3). "The major factor in organizational decline is a decline of income with which to pay organizers" (p. 443).

    Despite the good sustainability track record of his sample, Harris observes the problem of dependence on outside funding with respect to organizational sustainability: "< One organization's > major problem seems to have been dependence on outside funding sources for financial maintenance. This was a problem because < the organization's > funders, like many philanthropic organizations, were geared toward providing seed money to get a project started, not toward providing maintenance money to keep it going over the long haul" (p. 476). He finds that multiple funding sources promote sustainability: of 11 organizations never dependent on a single source of funding, 10 survived, and 1 died; of 14 organizations that did depend on a single source of funding, 7 survived and 7 died (p. 431).

    Harris' theoretical framework is derived from McCarthy and Zald (1973), who maintain that "pure" social movement organizing should be grassroots fundraising driven. McCarthy & Zald observed 30 years ago a growing dependence on outside funding and of professional organizers, and a decreasing emphasis on constituency building. Even while they noted that the very successful civil rights movement was bankrolled by others than the aggrieved, they were concerned about "a significantly increased separation between any mass base of aggrieved people and an organization's leadership and sources of financial support" (p. 480). Harris' data concur: "In virtually every case of organizational mortality, the key factor underlying the demise of an organization was the loss of financial support. At the same time, the organizations' financial bases, both the diversified ones and the Sugar Daddies, were almost always external to the organizations' mass bases." Only one organization in his study had a financial base primarily raised from its members (p. 484).

    While Robert Matthews Johnson's Why Philanthropy Must Make Democracy. The First Charity (Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press, 1988) is primarily an essay for funders of organizing, there are some descriptions and some insights in this book of relevance to organizers who wish to increase their fundraising effectiveness.

    First, he includes three case studies with descriptions of funding to give us a glimpse of how effective organizing was funded 15 years ago (remember that these are 1987 dollars):

    • BUILD (Baltimore IAF affiliate) had a 1987 budget of $120,000, which supported an Executive Director, training (of staff and leaders), and two organizers-in-training. Just under half of BUILD's income came from membership dues, at $4 per adult member of each affiliated organization. An ad book netted $40,000 and the Campaign for Human Development (CHD) supplied $30,000.

    • MOP (Metropolitan Organizations for People, Denver, involved with The Organize Training Center, San Francisco) had a budget of $90,000 when Mr. Johnson interviewed its staff, down substantially from several years before, when Denver Catholic Community Services had funded 4 organizers. The core budget was largely raised from grassroots sources, with amounts not specified - dues, contributions from religious congregations, an ad book, and fundraising events. MOP anticipated a CHD grant to support an African American organizer.

    • An UNO chapter in Chicago had a 1987 budget of $84,000, of which $10,000 was contributed by churches, $10,000 from benefits and other grassroots fundraising, and the remainder from 9 area foundations and corporate giving programs. At the time, this UNO chpater had one full time organizer and was affiliated with the Gamaliel Foundation.

    Some of the author's thoughts and observations seem relevant to probe today. With respect to engaging more funders, philanthropists and donors in community organizing, Mr. Johnson observes three reasons why philanthropy may not invest in community organizing (Chapter 6, p. 99):

    • Philanthropy largely gives to people in its comfort zone, namely, the non-poor.
    • Philanthropy is more comfortable with professional than grassroots organizations.
    • Philanthropy likes the "medical model" - a diagnosis and quick solution to the problem.

    He asks philanthropies and philanthropists to see the philanthropic support of community organizing as an expression of altruism, reduce barriers to funding organizing that have unwittingly entered the grants application process, etc. He concludes that community organizing is clearly within the purview of the prime purposes of philanthropic activity because:

    • It solves problems.
    • It creates institutions that serve constituencies, promote democratic values, and become assets in their communities.
    • It builds the public life of the community (p. 177).

    A decade old book by Robert Fisher and Joseph Kling, Mobilizing the Community: Local Politics in the Era of the Global City (Sage, 1993) attempts to put organizing in a global urban perspective and gives a couple of glimpses of the finance of community organizing in and beyond the US. This study is relevant to ours, because we wish to identify structural problems - and new structural opportunities such as public funds -- in the funding of organizing as well as limitations in organizing fundraising practice. Three cases are summarized from this study; the two international ones describe the promises and potential pitfalls of government support of community organizing:

    • The authors describe the ability of PUEBLO (a Center for Third World Organizing affiliate) to gain philanthropic funding for a lead abatement campaign by repositioning it as an environmental, rather than a "poor children of color," issue. Says organizer Francis Calpotura: "When we were talking about immigrants and lead poisoning, only a small number of progressive funders were interested in our work. When lead poisoning suddenly was seen by funders as part of an 'environmental' agenda, we were finally able to move some money" (p. 123).

    • A very grassroots squatters movement developed in Germany in the '80's; in Berlin, the various groups created an umbrella organization to secure public funding for their organizing work. Ultimately, public funds were secured, but to support the delivery of self-help services and self-help housing rehabs, not direct action.

    • Muslim immigrant organizing in France is government funded. "Because there is hardly any tradition of philanthropy and very few foundations in France, most immigrants' community-based organizations are funded by the Social Action Fund (SAF). This fund is located within the Ministry of Social Affairs and provides 90% of the community organizations' revenues" (p. 280).

    Robert Fisher's Let the People Decide: Neighborhood Organizing in America (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994) is a history of community organizing in the US with particular focus on the Alinsky and post Alinsky years. There are a few references in the book to revenue generation practices and larger sustainability issues in community organizing. Among them:

    • Communist Party organizer Steve Nelson describes fundraising for the Unemployed Councils of the Depression years: "For fundraising we tried to stage events that fit into the cultural life of the communities. Most councils relied on bingo, raffles, picnics, and block parties" (p. 42). (Research team note: this organizer overlooks the subsidization of some of these councils by the Party.)

    • According to Fisher, most Alinsky-style organizations tended to live 6 years or fewer. The Woodlawn Organization (TWO) was the exception, because it branched into community development (including a supermarket), Head Start, and job training. Fisher concludes, based in part over TWO's failure to organize effectively against soaring community arson in the early 1970's, that TWO succeeded, over time, as a community development corporation but not as organizing (p. 143).

    • Fisher reports, via information gained from interviews and documents, that the total resources for IAF and its 28 affiliates in 1991 was $5M, and the average affiliate size was $120,000. The total ACORN (including affiliates) budget in 1991 was $4M. Most IAF revenue was from membership dues; only 23% of ACORN's budget was gifts and grants (p. 199). This is a very broad-brush look - with imperfect data -- that might provide us with a baseline to examine the prevalent sense in the field that increased reliance on foundation grants over the past decade has resulted in declining emphasis on grassroots income.

    • Gary Delgado asserts that a $1M investment (his estimate) in community organizing leveraged a $300M investment in communities via the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) campaign (p. 202). But we still do not know - for lack of research - to what extent the CRA has generated new or increased investments in organizing per se.

    • Fisher has a very general discussion about the impact of the growing conservatism in the US climate of opinion on revenue generation for community organizing (pp. 199-202) but provides no quantitative data.

    A 1994 evaluation of the grantees of the national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (John D. McCarthy and Jim Castelli, "Working for Justice: The Campaign for Human Development and Poor Empowerment Groups" < Life Cycle Institute of the Catholic University of America, unpublished mss, November 1994>) included significant information about fundraising. Fundraising data were collected from grantees' applications to the Campaign, which asked for budget information from the current year and that immediately prior to the application. The database was of over 200 organizations. The evaluators found:

    • The average total current year budget of the groups studied was $213,050.

    • Only one organization in eight was at least 15 years old, and budgets tended to rise with organizational age: organizations over 15 years had budgets averaging $441,579; those 10-14 years, $242,035; those 5-9 years, $188,591; those under 5 years, $129,722.

    • 56.1% of the groups' income came from grants, including 11.1% from the Campaign alone and 45% from non-Campaign grantmaking sources. Churches (including the Campaign) accounted for 24.7% of total granted funds; foundations, for 26.4%; and government, for 20.5%.

    • Grassroots fundraising accounted for 15% of previous year budgets. 162 groups (64%) collected membership dues. 47% used special events such as dinners or runs, and half of these held more than one special event a year. Other sources: unspecified donations (33% of groups in the sample), institutional donations (17%), product sales (16%), support books and advertising (14%), direct mail (13%), individual donations (12%), telemarketing and canvassing (10%), fees (10%), and charity campaigns (3%).

    • "Other" sources, which the authors did not specify, accounted for 28.8% of revenue.

    Among the authors' conclusions:

    Funding is a continuing problem for community organizations. Many have budgets of less than $150,000 a year, yet they must do battle with much better funded governments and businesses. Community organizations, in even the poorest neighborhoods, can raise significant amounts of grassroots income . . . But the idea that most of these groups can ever become financially self-sufficient appears to be a myth. Even the most financially self-sufficient groups we saw still raised 20 percent or more of their budget from outside sources. Grassroots fundraising is labor intensive. When groups can raise enough money on their own to keep their doors open, they still turn to grants and other funding sources to finance new and expanded programs.

    A 2001 study of 100 faith-based community organizing groups by Mark R. Warren and Richard L. Wood ("Faith Based Community Organizing: The State of the Field," at asked a set of questions in the topical area of "securing a financial base." Financial data were provided directly by survey respondents (for 1998; the data were collected for the study in 1999); one cannot tell if these data were from their memories or their books. Of the 100 organizations surveyed, the median annual budget was $150,000, of which 30% came from foundation and corporate grants, 22% came from membership dues, 19% from CCHD, 12% from other faith-based funders, and 5% from local fundraising. There were significant regional differences, but the numbers are too small to make solid inferences when broken down by region - Pacific groups were highly reliant on foundation and corporate grants, for example, while Southern groups raised nearly half of their budgets from dues and local fundraising. Warren and Wood note that the younger groups relied more on faith based funders while the older ones relied more on foundations and corporations.

    Warren and Wood note in their report that "Core funding to support long-term organizing in America's communities has proved hard to come by for many community based efforts. Leadership development takes time and requires sustained investment. Moreover, protecting the integrity and independence of FBCO < faith based community organizing > groups requires adequate attention to raising funds from those constituents who directly participate in the efforts."

    This study is of additional interest for the present study for two reasons:

    • First, their methodology seems well-suited to gaining information from extremely busy organizers. The authors sent the survey instrument to respondents ahead of the phone interview to enable respondents to jot down ideas and otherwise prepare for the interview. This helped give them an excellent response rate, 100 out of 133.

    • Second, their finding of significant regional differences warrants further examination - are these differences of organizing culture, access to funders, or other factors? What impact do these differences have on organizing strength and sustainability?

    Kris Smock's new book comparing and contrasting different models of organizing, Democracy in Action: Community Organizing and Urban Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004) is largely a qualitative study of 10 organizations, two each representing five different organizing traditions. She also provides some important context setting about organizing and funding that is relevant to discussions of revenue

    An early chapter (2) provides brief, general descriptive information about the funding of the 10 organizations of her study (pp. 10-32):

    • Power organizing group #1 is a National Training and Information Center affiliate funded largely through foundation grants; it has some government contracts and operates bingo several times a week.

    • Power organizing group #2 is an Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate funded primarily by grants and secondarily by membership dues, with each institutuional member paying several hundred dollars a year.

    • Community building group #1 is funded primarily by foundation grants and has some government grants and contracts.

    • Community building group #2 is funded primarily by state, county, and city government grants and secondarily by foundation grants.

    • Civic group #1 has no paid staff or external funding; they pass the hat for miscellaneous expenses.

    • Civic group #2 is a community policing focused group and is entirely police department funded.

    • Women's organizing group #1 is funded primarily by foundation grants and secondarily by government grants.

    • Women's organizing group #2 is funded primarily by equal shares of foundation and government grants and supplements these with membership dues and other grassroots fundraising.

    • Transformative group #1 is funded primarily by small local and national foundation grants.

    • Transformative group #2 is funded primarily by state government literacy grants and secondarily by foundations.

    Thus, in Smock's sample, only one group was funded primarily internally, and that group had no staff and a "pass the hat" approach to fundraising.

    Smock summarizes and analyzes limitations that the groups in her study faced because of reliance on external funding:

    In order to secure adequate resources for salaries, programs, and operating expenses, most of my case-study organizations couched their work within the relatively narrow frameworks set out by mainstream funding institutions, particularly government agencies and private foundations. Because funders require concrete evidence that recipients are using their resources "effectively," organizations that focus on campaigns with short-term victories and easily quantifiable outcomes are far more likely to leverage the resources necessary for organizational survival than those with longer timeframes or less tangible goals. In addition, most mainstream funders subscribe to a broad liberal populism that emphasizes resident participation and community control but is uncomfortable with serious challenges to the status quo. Almost all of the organizations in my study couched their work within this general framework in order to secure funding to survive. The organizations that resisted this pressure - specifically the transformative groups - had great difficulty leveraging resources. (pp. 234-5)

    Smock particularly challenges funders to support "transformative" groups because, historically, they have created the impetus for major social movements, such as the civil rights movement. (Research team's note: the recent major foundation investments in voter turnout and immigrant and worker rights campaigns counters Smock's conclusion that funders are the key barrier in building large scale social movements out of grassroots community organizing.)

    While a broader literature review on organizing or social change nonprofits is beyond the scope of our study, we did review two research-based books that have implications for our study:

    The first, David Horton Smith, Grassroots Associations (Sage, 2000), examines grassroots associations and raises for us the question of whether the practice wisdom of predominantly "grassroots" fundraising for organizing is realistic. Smith defines grassroots associations as:

    locally based, significantly autonomous, volunteer-run, formal nonprofit (i.e. voluntary) groups that manifest substantial voluntary altruism < this means work for a common good > as groups and use the associational form of organization and, thus, have official memberships of volunteers who perform most, and often all, of the work/activity done in and by these nonprofits. The dividing line between GAs < grassroots associations > and paid-staff voluntary groups is not clear-cut . . . (p.7).

    A hallmark of grassroots associations is their low reliance on external funding: "GAs tend to depend little or not at all on government contracts and foundation or business grants." (p. 131). "Most GAs tend to be internally dependent for funds, based on dues and donations, . . .fees . . .special fundraising events.. . " (132). Smith, like Fisher, notes that European local governments tend to support grassroots associations in ways the US government does not.

    Smith's definition of grassroots associations is, thus, of all-volunteer groups, seemingly with modest revenue needs. The larger revenue needs of community organizing that employs professional staff organizers raises the question - labor unions aside - of whether or not the ideal of a predominantly grassroots income base is realistic. In other words, Harris' belief that foundations - or major donors - play a core, central role in supporting community organizing seems right in light of Smith's study.

    Carl Milofsky's edited volume, Community Organizations: Studies in Resource Mobilization and Exchange (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) is a somewhat dated compendium of pretty dense and often highly theoretical articles, but it does address some questions relevant to revenue generation in community organizing today. We should note right off that this book is not focused on community organizing alone; it is about a range of community based organizations, particularly self-help organizations.

    Milofsky's introductory chapter laments the dearth of research on community organizations and observes the anti-intellectualism inherent in American activism. A second paper of his, "Scarcity and Community," observes the importance of some community organizing moving to the city, regionwide, statewide, and national levels as public bureaucracies become evermore powerful at these levels. He observes the importance of community based organizations (CBOs) in maintaining order and social integration in communities and in resolving local conflicts, and he notes the forces of specialization, professionalism, and government contracting in eroding resident participation and power in CBOs. Writing in the wake of the decline of the War on Poverty programs, he notes that CBOs will increasingly be seeking private dollars. Yet he maintains that, increasingly, private sector fundraising also comes with it requirements for specialization: "If my discussion of the relationship between resource mobilization problems and the organizational structure of community organizations in the past is correct, small nonprofits have to become structurally specialized in order to seek and compete for resources in new private sector arenas" (p. 38). Milofsky thus raises a much discussed concern today - how can organizing - reliant on small "jacks of all trades" staff -- compete with nonprofits with specialized development staffs for private dollars?

    In Chapter 9, "Structure and Process in Community Self-Help Organizations" Milofsky observes ruefully the rise of the "grantsman" in CBOs, a professional position that also requires major organizational shifts, and leads to more focus on how the organization is seen by external agents. "The changes are needed to make organizational programs more easily described, the uniqueness of programs more apparent, the accountability of officers more demonstrable, and the activities of organizations more relevant to national priorities." (p.182) Organizations, he observes, become more bureaucratized as they become more professionalized, and bureaucratization suppresses resident participation.

    Chapter 10, coauthored with Frank Romo and entitled "The Structure of Funding Arenas for Neighborhood Based Organizations" is an analysis of a panel - surveys of the same CBOs -- in 1978 and again in 1984. Key findings:

    • 2/3 of the organizations surveyed survived from Time 1 to Time 2, and those that received government funding were more likely to survive. Also, "the more active members an organization had in 1978, the less likely it was to survive until 1984" (p.236), evidence supporting Kris Smock's sense that "social movement" organizations are especially fragile.

    • 70% of the 200 sampled organizations received 70% or more of their funding from a single source-category of fundraising (federal government, local government, businesses, foundations, churches and canvassing, internal).

    • Older organizations tend to be more complex and diverse, enabling sustainability regardless of fundraising practices.

    • There is no clear relationship between funding sources and promoting/suppressing democratic participation in CBOs.

    Their conclusions are highly pertinent to our study:

    Whatever it is that causes NBOs < neighborhood based organizations > to rely so heavily on single < funding > arenas does not seem rooted in structure. More likely, funding arenas embody certain institutionalized practices, norms, and sets of network connections that make it convenient for fund-raisers to continue relying on certain sources. It is expensive for small organizations to forge new contacts and learn new ways to write grant applications. But faced with necessity caused by the decline of funding of a favored arena, the high long term survival rate of our sample organizations shows NBO leaders have little difficulty shifting their attention to new sources of funding. Consequently . . . NBOs are quite capable of surviving a sharp cutback . . . Survival does not mean that organizations are prospering, that they are effective at solving community problems, or that they are highly democratic . . . Although organizations can shift their funding sources, this is easiest when they carry on diverse activities and gain support form many sources. Diversity is a benefit provided by size and age. But since NBOs are by nature fluid and loosely structured, there are few barriers preventing leaders at any stage of organizational development from seeking out a diversified base of support. Doing so is likely to increase chances of long term survival (pp.239-40).

    Literature on Organizing Fundraising Legacies

    The Alinsky Legacy

    Even recognizing the long, strong tradition of co-operatives, ethnic mutual aid and protest societies, and unions in building self-sufficient member based organizations, modern day community organizing remains strongly influenced by the work of Saul Alinsky and his protègèes. We thought it would thus be useful to scan the literature for their wisdom on sustaining "people's organizations." As is widely recognized today, Alinsky himself had little to say: Reveille for Radicals (University of Chicago Press, 1946) exhorts organizers to "tap community resources for funds" (p.84) and provides one story about how a group does this, and Rules for Radicals (Random House, 1971) is silent on revenue practices.

    Sandford D. Horwitt's biography of Alinsky, Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky: His Life and Legacy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989) paints a clear picture of Alinsky's focus on philanthropies and wealthy patrons in supporting his own organizing work in starting up People's Organizations, and, later, in supporting the training work of the Industrial Areas Foundation. While Horwitt's narrative has several references attributable to Alinsky about the importance of sustainable, enduring People's Organizations, Alinsky himself seems to have been much more focused on starting them up than sustaining them.

    Horwitt describes in wonderful detail Alinsky's great skill in developing relationships with wealthy individuals and with decision makers in philanthropy and church based charitable giving, a skill very relevant to major gifts fundraising today. Horwitt describes particularly well Alinsky's skills in creating visibility for his organizing work and cultivating relationships with people who had access to people with money. He built friendships with high-ranking officials in the Catholic Church and met philanthropists through these officials and other social acquaintances. He built a board that included wealthy philanthropists, who connected him with major foundations [35].

    Alinsky was greatly aided in his search for major donors by a visibility rarely given to community organizing today. Writer of a best selling book and subject of a Washington Post series, Time magazine coverage, and a book that spawned the War on Poverty, Alinsky made organizing seem like the most important, most exciting development on America's urban scene [36].

    In summary, Saul Alinsky talked and wrote about self-sustaining local community organizations through community resources such as memberships and events, but for his own work at IAF he relied on major donors, corporate church giving, and, late in his career, on large foundation grants.

    Alinsky's protègèes have focused much more attention on the sustainability of local community organizing groups than their mentor did. Harry Boyte's Commonwealth: A Return to Citizen Politics (New York: Free Press, 1989) describes Ed Chambers' focused effort beginning in the 1970's to build IAF affiliates with funding bases independent of government, foundations, and corporate donors. He quotes Chambers: "We became very strong on the need for the organization to be based on the people's own money or it won't last". Through his leadership, IAF leaders and organizers increased their attention to building sustainable funding bases through membership dues and drives.

    In Texas, Ernesto Cortez, according to Mark Warren's "Rebuilding Civil Society in the Inner City" (2001, at, has required local organizations to obtain at least 1/3 of their funding internally. On average, member churches contribute 2% of their incomes to their IAF affiliate. (Research team note: This is the kind of income that Marquez' analysis misses because he assumed it would be reported as "dues income" to the IRS when it is not - and should not be.) Cortez describes the self-finance mandate of organizing in his "Reweaving the Civic Fabric," Boston Review (June/Sept 1994, at "When the government funds local organizing, those "grassroots" efforts will continue only so long as the public dollars continue to flow. And no organization funded by the government is going to be truly agitational about using public funds more effectively. . To ensure ownership of broad-based organizations by the community, those organizations must be self-supporting. The Iron Rule applies to institutions as well as to individuals."

    Mike Miller, in an essay on community organizing and development, "Can the Debate be Resolved? The Controversy About Community Organizing and Community Development," unpublished working paper of the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund, observes that Cesar Chavez took the indigenous funding mandate even further, to expect sacrificial giving from members: "< W > e began the drive to get workers to pay dues so we could live, so we could just survive...At a farm workers convention, we told them we had nothing to give them except the dream that it might happen. But we couldn't continue unless they were willing to make a sacrifice." He describes how difficult it was for him to take $3.50 in union dues from the last $5 a member had for his family's food, but he did it. Miller quotes Chavez:

    That experience hurt me but it also strengthened my determination. If this man was willing to give me $3.50 on a dream, when we were really taking the money out of his own food, then why shouldn't we be able to have a union--however difficult? There had never been a successful union for farm workers. Every...attempt had been defeated. People were killed. They ran into every obstacle you can think of. But with the kind of faith this farm worker had why couldn't we have a union? . . . That's the kind of spirit that kept us going and infected other farm workers--this little core of people who were willing to stop talking and sacrifice to get it done.

    The legacies of other organizing traditions

    Saul Alinsky did not invent organizing, and he did not invent self-sustaining grassroots organizations. Particularly in communities of people of color, community organizing - and organizations - owe much to a legacy that includes a rich meshing of "social betterment" (self-help) and "social protest" (direct action and advocacy), community improvement efforts, popular education (as described in Paulo Freire's classic, Pedagogy of the Oppressed), liberation theology, and social movement building. Our purpose here is not to describe the rich variety of organizing traditions per se, but, rather, to note if and how these traditions shaped the building - and especially the finance - of sustainable membership organizations.

    Historically in the U. S., up to the point that major foundations began investing in civil rights movement and the federal government in local self-help via the War on Poverty, racial and ethnic groups had little access to external funding and, thus, relied on volunteerism and fundraising activities within their communities. In the African American community, examples range from Sunday teas, in which participants left a dime in their emptied teacups to support community advancement, to rent parties in Harlem in the 1920's and '30's, through the Ebony Fashion Fair, which has raised $52 million for scholarships. Mutual aid societies in ethnic communities and labor unions, long before Alinsky inspired community organizing, supported themselves through membership dues. And local churches, through tithing, every member visitations, collection plates, and so forth, are also legitimately part of the broader legacy that inspires fundraising practices for contemporary community organizing.

    We recognize that the legacies of union dues and church giving are thoroughly embedded in contemporary community organizing, so bibliographic citations are superfluous. For readers who wish to delve further into the diverse legacies of supporting grassroots organizations in communities of color, some of the following might be of interest:

    • For an overview of historical and contemporary discussion of giving and grantmaking in communities of color, see Lisa Duran, "The Politics of Philanthropy and Social Change Funding: A Popular Review of the Literature" (Denver CO: Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, 2002). The monograph is really two: one chapter on philanthropy in communities of color, and another on foundation funding of social movements, with a focus on communities of color. The monograph is produced by GIFT, a nonprofit created to increase funding and fundraising among community change organizations led by people of color. The first chapter describes giving patterns within the African American, Latino, Asian American, and indigenous communities, including a discussion of the growing number of ethnic community funds. The second chapter reviews data on the low levels of foundation support for social change organizations, traces the historical limitations as well as contributions of foundations in supporting social change, and critiques contemporary funder practice. Duran offers the chapter in the hope that "exploring the ways foundations interact with < social change organizations > will prove helpful to communities of color and progressives who are working to create their own visions of social justice." (p. 4) The monograph may be ordered from

    • For historical context on African American grassroots self-help and protest organizations, see: W.E.B. DuBois, ed., Efforts for Social Betterment Among Negro Americans, Atlanta University Publications, No. 14 (Atlanta: Atlanta University, 1909); William L. Pollard, A Study of Black Self-Help (San Francisco: R&E Associates, 1978); and Dorothy Salem, To Better Our World: Black Women in Organized Reform, 1980-1920 (Brooklyn: Carlson, 1990).

    • For discussions of the grassroots origins and finance of the civil rights movement, see Vicki L. Crawford, J.A. Rouse, and B. Woods, eds. Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers 1941-1965 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990/1993); John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994); Aldon D. Morris, The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: The Free Press, 1984); and Charles Payne, I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (Berkeley: U of California Press, 1995). A more recent paper by Aldon Morris and Dan Clawson, "Lessons of the Civil Rights Movement for Worker's Rights/Union Organizing" (2002, at summarizes the pivotal role of grassroots finance in building the movement before foundations financed it.

    • For recent reports on ethnic giving legacies, see "African American Philanthropy: A Legacy of Giving," AXA Foundation, n.d. (accessed via; Michael Anft, "Tapping Ethnic Wealth," Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1/10/2002, pp. 4-10; Mindy L. Berry and Jessica Chao, Engaging Diverse Communities For and Through Philanthropy (Washington, DC: Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, 2001); Council on Foundations, Cultures of Caring (New York: Author, 1999); and Duran, "The Politics of Philanthropy," op cit.

    Popular Literature by Organizers on Organizing Fundraising

    Apparently, few organizers write. And sometimes, when they do, they do so for limited-access venues such as network newsletters. While quite understandable, this situation creates challenges for literature reviews. Much more importantly, the dearth of writing by organizers in readily and widely accessible venues (such as via the comm-org website) limits opportunities for people in the field to learn from one another. The following are some writings of organizers on fundraising practices that are readily accessible, presented in chronological order of their publication.

    There is one summary theme: Fundraising is organizing, and grassroots fundraising particularly is as powerful an organizing tool as there is.

    Si Kahn, Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders (Silver Spring MD: NASW Press, 1991). This classic organizing manual devotes one chapter to Money (#14, pp. 222-237). The first half of the chapter is devoted to budget development and financial management; the second half, to fundraising. No surprises here: Kahn describes foundation and government funding as "external" and dues and events as "internal" and preferred sources of organizing revenue. Kahn has a strong preference for a dues system, learning from the labor movement that "In order to be politically independent , an organization needs to be financially independent" (p. 233). But he also observes that "< t > he problem of how to maintain a dues system . . . without totally absorbing leadership and staff time in the process is one that clearly needs attention in the coming years" (p. 235).

    He believes that more and more community organizing groups are turning their fundraising attention to events, and he supplies a great list of examples. Kahn observes that events not only raise money, they involve more people in the organization, they build leaders, and they stabilize the organization by giving people a fuller sense of ownership in the group. He concludes: "Perhaps the most important point to understand about money and people's organizations is that they are inseparable. In a people's organization finances and fundraising are part of organizing" (p. 237).

    Mike Miller, a longtime organizer, aptly articulates the importance of organized money in building strong community organizations. In a section entitled "Power and Money" in his "Can the Debate Be Resolved?" (op cit), Miller observes: "The power to act independently, to engage in confrontation when confrontation is needed, depends on both large numbers of people and income raised from 'the bottom up.' While this is widely understood in theory, few broadly-based community organizations accomplish this fundraising objective in fact."

    Nevertheless, observes Miller, "all organizers believe money from the membership is important. Among these reasons:

    • If you depend on someone else for money, you can't control the agenda of your organization.

    • If it's important to people, they should (and can) pay for it.

    • People will respect your organization more if they know the people in it pay for it.

    • When people pay for the organization they'll take greater care of it and demand greater accountability from those they hire as their organizers. People tend to watch out what happens with their money."

    In Miller's own experiences, the core member support has provided a sort of moral and strategic center for organizations he has worked with. For example, core member support enabled a housing focused group to organize tenants and fight gentrification along with its advocacy for additional investments in affordable housing. Miller sadly observes the transition of this group to a HUD-funding-dependent CDC when the investment victory was won, with resultant loss of its organizing muscle.

    Vicki Quatmann, "Organizing & Fundraising: Sisters in the Struggle," Grassroots Fundraising Journal, December 1994, pp. 709. A nice piece from the late protègèe of Kim Klein, whose main theme is essentially that fundraising, like organizing, is about building relationships. Quatmann describes her work at Save Our Cumberland Mountains in moving to major gifts and an endowment fund. Illustrative quote: "Along with the organizers, my job < as a fundraiser > was to be out there asking, asking, and asking some more - challenging the membership to greater commitment through their financial gifts . . ." (p. 8). She suggests that organizing fundraisers take Fred Ross' Axioms for Organizers and substitute "fundraiser" for "organizer." Her conclusion is that fundraising is a better organizing tool than organizing: "In fact, it has generally been true that the fundraising plan, more than the organizing plan, has incorporated the greater effort to broaden the commitment to a greater number of people. The organizing strategies tend to quickly become heavily focused on research and similar strategies that depend on a few skilled leaders." (p.8).

    Seth Borgos and Scott Douglas, "Community Organizing and Civic Renewal: A View from the South," Social Policy (Winter 1996): 18-28. This article focuses specifically on the framing of community organizing to donors, and particularly foundations, posing the observation that organizing has too narrowly "marketed" itself to foundations (and the broader public) by focusing on issue victories rather than its accomplishments in building civic participation and leadership. "Community organizations have invested far more time in publicizing issues and campaigns than in articulating their contributions to democratic governance. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that political elites, the media, and the public at large tend to perceive organizing as a genre of public-interest advocacy, or special-interest pleading, rather than as a vital thread in the social fabric" (p. 18). In observing the "disconnect" between < well funded > "civil society" theory building and community organizing, the authors set out in this article "to support the claim of community organizing to democratic significance by articulating this claim in a more precise and explicit form, . . . locat < ing > community organizing within the broader context of the contemporary debate over the condition of civil society" (p. 19). The article reviews the recent literature on civil society and social capital and notes four distinguishing characteristics of organizing that make it a tremendous social capital builder:

    • A participative culture;
    • Inclusiveness;
    • Breadth of mission and vision; and
    • A critical perspective toward political, economic, and social institutions.

    The authors describe these concepts on the ground through three organizing case studies, all of them Southern organizations: Southern Echo's work in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi; the Kentucky Fair Tax Coalition; and the Community Farm Alliance.

    Learnings from these case studies (p. 27):

    • Community organizing is "highly effective at fostering trust among people divided by culture, class, self-interest, or ideology;"

    • "Community organizing can be a powerful vehicle for political education;"

    • Community organizing groups "have shown a knack for addressing divisive issues that often seem intractable in other contexts."

    Conclusion: "Community organizations should evaluate their community-building functions with the same critical attention they have devoted to issue campaigns and organizational development, and funders who support community organizing should do the same" (p. 28). The authors conclude with a call for a "considerable investment" in building the community organizing infrastructure.

    Mike Roque, "Why People of Color Need to Be Good Fundraisers," ShelterForce #102 (November-December 1998) at Mr. Roque observes how organizations predominantly of and for people of color tend to have white people do much of the fundraising. The article encourages organizers to include people of color on fundraising, events, andsolicitations committees; it encourages organizing to focus more on communities of people of color in raising funds; and it encourages people of color to become involved in fundraising. The author observes practices that unwittingly exclude people of color: narrowly constituted boards (such as corporate or institutional focuses) that may not bring in persons of color; lack of volunteer training in fundraising; staff fear of loss of control. He urges people of color to join boards, join fundraising committees, get fundraising training, and create their own organizations.

    Mike Roque, "Making the Transition from Organizer to Executive Director: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My New Job," Grassroots Fundraising Journal, August 1999, pp. 7-10, has a similar message to Quatmann. He notes that most organizing groups do not have a development staff, and, consequently, "as Executive Director most of your time will be spent on fundraising." (p.8). Like Quatmann, he emphasizes the parallels between good organizing and good fundraising practice:

    To keep some excitement in fundraising, think of it as an organizing campaign. One tenet in organizing is, 'We build relationships.' Similarly, all fundraising is personal and also involves building relationships, whether with foundation or corporate folks or individual donors . . . In an organizing campaign, would you submit a ten-page typewritten document to your target and expect them to meet your demands? . . . Think of the funder as a target. Do all the research you would do about an organizing target. . (p.8). . . Don't hesitate to push, challenge, educate, and organize funders . . . You should see in your role an opportunity to educate folks on the principles of organizing (p.9).

    Vicki Quatmann, You Can Do It! A Volunteer's Guide to Raising Money for Your Group in Words and Pictures (Southern Empowerment Project, 2002). This is a training manual Ms. Quatmann developed for the SEP's Grassroots Fundraising Training. It focuses on fundraising plan development and solicitation basics, especially with individual donors. Soliciting face to face, soliciting by phone, focusing messages to donors in ways they can connect to, organizing house parties, special events, and supporting volunteers are themes covered. The manual is very user-friendly, with lots of diagrams, checklists, planning tools, sample solicitations and thanks, lists of fundraising ideas, and illustrations by the author. The manual is available for purchase from

    Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max, Organizing for Social Change, 3rd ed. (Santa Ana CA: Seven Locks Press, 2001) has a chapter (21) on fundraising with a focus on grassroots fundraising. The authors - three organizers -- begin the chapter with advice to organizers on the inherent challenges of government and foundation funding. It "almost always turns out to be a bad idea" to accept government contracts for services because "you can't organize against your funders;" "it is essential that organizations not become solely dependent on just a few foundation sources" because foundations are "faddish" or "constantly seek 'new' projects" (p. 277). The remainder of the chapter focuses on the basics of grassroots fundraising and some grassroots fundraising ideas, with a heavy emphasis on dovetailing organizing and grassroots fundraising processes. The chapter is not research based, but, rather, describes successful fundraisers from the authors' experiences, such as a group in Iowa that hosts a wine tasting, Connecticut Citizen Action that raises $20K annually on ad books, the Baltimore NAACP chapter's baby contest, and Midwest Academy's bingo.

    Anjie Saunders, "Fundraising Tuesdays," ShelterForce #133 (January-February 2004) at Ms. Saunders, former Executive Director of Citizens for Smart Growth, describes herself as one who procrastinated on fundraising, preferring to do mission-related work to raising funds. To get her organization on firmer financial footing, she instituted the practice of dedicating all staff time (small nonprofit with 2-3 FT and PT staff) every Tuesday to developing and implementing a fundraising plan. Fundraising training helped her see that fundraising was part of the 'real work' of her organization. The article does not describe "bottom line" results of this practice, but the author implies is that it "worked".

    Popular/Practice Literature of Relevance to Organizing Fundraising

    The following are hardly systematic, but, rather, readings and resources recommended to us, as well as ones we located, that we think will be of interest to organizers in strengthening their fundraising practices.

    Grassroots fundraising practices

    The Foundation Center defines grassroots fundraising as: "Efforts to raise money from individuals or groups from the local community on a broad basis. Usually an organization's own constituents, people who live in the neighborhood served or clients of the agency's services are the sources of these funds. Grassroots fundraising activities include membership drives, raffles, auctions, benefits, and a range of other activities." There is widespread consensus in the organizing field that as much as possible of the organization's core budget should be supported by its constituency. Without trying to split hairs, this Bibliography focuses on dues and events as grassroots income, with individual appeals (which may include individuals beyond the community) and earned income as other sources of "internally generated" income for community organizing.

    Kim Klein is a "guru" in the grassroots fundraising field. She has written several books, created The Grassroots Fundraising Journal ( and regularly writes on fundraising in numerous publications. ShelterForce's (a journal primarily for affordable housing developers and activists) regular "Fundraise!" section over the past several years provides a good introduction to Ms. Klein's expertise and advice:

    Klein's most recent book, Fundraising in Times of Crisis (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003) is in some ways a re-casting of her core ideas for the post-9/11 world. Therefore, this summary also suffices as a summary of Klein's ideas in general.

    Recognizing that the 9/11 crisis, growing distrust of the nonprofit sector, the unpredictable economy, and increased competition within the sector are making financial sustainability much more difficult for all nonprofits, Klein identifies internal factors that may lead particular nonprofits to a distressed financial state: looking for money in the 'wrong' places (foundations) instead of the 'right' places (individual donors); reluctance to ask for money; and declining government funding.

    Klein describes what a financial crisis looks like, distinguishing it from cash flow problems and personnel problems, and she spells out the steps for managing a funding crisis. She does not simply recommend fundraising techniques; she describes the planning, Board involvement, resource shifting, and message creation that have to occur before any new technique can be successfully deployed.

    The main body of the book then re-caps Klein's long-time recommendations:

    • diversity of fundraising programs (not just number of sources, but types of sources and number of volunteers involved);

    • emphasis on individual donors (which we would interpret to include dues and local business contributions) and earned income;

    • continual investment in longer-range fundraising planning, spending time on self-education, recruitment of new volunteers with new skills, and putting technology and communications systems in place so that the techniques that are chosen will yield as much as possible.

    Klein, finally, describes a number of quick-results fundraising activities that can set an organization back on the path, and she re-caps her explanation of why a broad base of individual donors is the strongest platform for a successful nonprofit, and what it takes to create and maintain one. This is an especially important section of the book.

    There is also a short section on changes in fundraising. One important point Klein makes is that technology's increasing role in fundraising (and other aspects of nonprofit work) means that all nonprofits will have to have people on staff and among their volunteers who can plan for and use sophisticated technology - from databases to websites. New types of donors are becoming more important: people between 18 and 25, immigrants, poor people, and people who grew up poor but are no longer poor. Understanding and using different cultural forms of giving will be important, she says.

    Klein's book raises, for some, questions about grassroots funding for organizing, particularly in low income communities that our interviewees also touched on.

    • There seem to be some critical differences between the types of groups that Klein describes and many community organizing groups; to the extent that these differences are significant, her messages may be less relevant or less feasible to implement in organizing than in other types of small nonprofits. We particularly have a sense that Klein tends to work with smaller, more vanguard organizations that have at least some members who are, if not wealthy, at least well-educated and well-networked in the "progressive" world that includes people of moderate and substantial income. Therefore, the leaders of these groups have a bit more traction than leaders of community organizing groups in low income communities, particularly those of color, when it comes to creating an individual donor program.

    • Following from this point, we question how Klein's recommendations would help a truly poor-people's organization get a start on individual donor development, especially from amongst its own members/community. That's not to say that it cannot be done - many already do, such as ACORN chapters and JACOB (a Gamaliel affiliate). It's just that the dynamic looks different when the individual giving is based partly or entirely on a membership model or a business donations model.

    Joan Flanagan's The Grass Roots Fundraising Book: How To Raise Money In Your Community (Contemporary Books, 1995) is another grassroots fundraising classic.

    Speaking to a broad array of community-based organizations including geographically-focused social change organizations, service organizations, and mutual aid groups, Flanagan urges leaders and members of such groups to focus on increasing their "hard" money - unrestricted funds that can predictably be raised every year and that demonstrate the community's support for the organization.

    Flanagan doesn't highlight a particular technique so much as she points out the need for any organization to assess its assets and strengths (as well as its weaknesses and liabilities) in order to create a set of activities to generate renewable funds. Individual donations receive plenty of attention but dues, earned income, events, workplace giving, ad books, and more are also described in some detail. The Grass Roots Fundraising Book addresses each issue - how to set up a fundraising calendar, how to choose the methods that will work best for each particular type of organization, how to execute several of the most promising types, who should do which tasks, how to support fundraising with publicity and bookkeeping/reporting - in a step-wise, "how to" manner.

    Flanagan particularly speaks to very small organizations and those seeking to raise funds for their first paid staff: she assesses each type of fundraising in terms of its advantages and disadvantages as well as the amount of preparation needed, repeatability factor, and potential for raising money from the general public. A particularly valuable part of The Grass Roots Fundraising Book is called "Starting In The Middle." In it, Flanagan explains how to move an organization that has always depended chiefly on foundation or government money to a more balanced and self-sufficient mix of income sources. The kinds of conversations that have to occur, the planning that's needed, the public commitments to raise named amounts of money, and the follow-through that is necessary, are outlined in a brief but very telling chapter. An equally useful section on dues and what they mean for an organization follows.

    Fundraising from individuals (see also Grassroots Fundraising and Online Fundraising)

    Of all of the $240.72 billion given to charities in the US in 2003, according to Giving USA, only 10.9% came from foundations and 5.6% from corporations, while 74.5% came from individuals and 9.0% from bequests ( This enduring pattern of giving, coupled with research that documents an enormous pending intergenerational transfer of wealth, poses an opportunity for organizing, particularly for groups that have largely been supported by grants. Five websites may be of particular interest to organizers as they begin to learn about and/or implement individual and planned giving programs:

    • Giving USA ( provides data on patterns and trends in philanthropic giving and volunteerism.

    • The Indiana University School of Philanthropy provides professional education, training, and research in many aspect of philanthropy, including fundraising. Their twice yearly journal, Philanthropy Matters, includes recent articles on fundraising traditions in the African American community, on different questions of donor interests and behavior, and on IRS accountability.

    • The National Committee for Planned Giving ( is a resource for organizers who wish to expand their individual giving programs to encompass transfers of assets.

    • The Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy ( is a "multidisciplinary research center specializing in the study of spirituality, wealth, philanthropy, and other aspects of cultural life in an age of affluence." Its website provides or links "visitors" to research on issues such as the intergenerational transfer of wealth.

    • Kim Klein's Grassroots Fundraising Journal website ( is a rich resource for ideas on raising funds from individuals and events.

    Some recent articles about individual fundraising from these websites and other sources:

    Carl Richardson's "The Ten Immutable Laws of the (Fundraising) Universe" from the Philanthropy News Digest's The Sustainable Nonprofit series ( should resonate well with organizers because the "laws" are so akin to the organizing process. They are:

    1. "No group of individuals is waiting to give.
    2. Fundraising is a conversation between funded and funder.
    3. Effective fundraising is a result of telling your story.
    4. People give to people.
    5. Someone must ask for the money.
    6. An organization cannot thank a donor enough.
    7. Seek investments, not gifts.
    8. Donors are developed, not born.
    9. Fundraising out of desperation is futile.
    10. In the best of circumstances, people will do what they please."

    The National Committee on Planned Giving website -- observes that planned giving programs - in which donors make decisions about their assets rather than their income alone -- are feasible for small to mid sized philanthropies, but that they are best built on the foundation of a solid annual giving program. The Committee has found that æ of bequest donor and two thirds of charitable remainder trust donors also give to "their" organizations' annual campaigns. Organizations ready to consider planned giving programs, or "gift planning" as the Committee prefers, are those that have:

    • good public visibility and credibility,

    • a vision and mission statement and a strategic plan,

    • an active Board that represents the organization's constituency,

    • appropriate employee compensation and clear benefits to volunteers,

    • evidence of organizational sustainability and solid financial management,

    • evidence that the organization is in compliance with IRS standards and produces and annual report, and

    • evidence that fundraising costs are appropriate.

    "The Young & the Generous: Estate Planning Begins Earlier and All Those Brochures You're Printing Do Make a Difference". Philanthropy Matters 11(Spring 2001): 3, 10 observes that individuals making gifts of assets are younger than previously thought: "the average age at which donors arrange their first charitable bequest is 49 and the average age at the time of the first will is 44". Moreover, the article notes a profound shift in what attracts major donors to a charity. Based on data from an annual survey of major donors by the National Committee on Planned Giving, the article observes that the percent of donors whose decision to give to a nonprofit first came from the organization's published materials rose from 5 % in 1992 to 34% in 2000. Personal visits were also important: in 2000, 11% of major donors cited a personal visit as their major impulse to give, up from 2 % in 1992. And "one in five bequest donors had no previous connection to the charity." One expert, reviewing these data: "It is critical we get the word out very widely about our organizations - why we do what we do and how we better society. There are people who will hear us and believe in us, with no affiliation." Another: "This job < fund development > is about relationship building." (Our note: the implications for organizing are tremendous: good websites, brochures, and annual reports can indeed attract major donors, and "one on ones" are a highly effective fundraising skill.)

    John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish make the case for organizers to think about planned giving programs in "Why The $41 Trillion Wealth Transfer Estimate Is Still Valid: A Review Of Challenges And Questions," The National Committee on Planned Giving's The Journal of Gift Planning. Vol. 7, no. 1, 1st Quarter 2003. pp. 11-15, 47-50; at Updating research published in 1999, the authors project that, despite the recent economic downturn, at least $41 trillion in assets will be disbursed through 2052, as Americans who have gained affluence in the post WW II economy die. The authors estimate that $6 trillion will be transferred immediately to charities, $7.2 trillion to "Baby Boomer" children, $17.2 trillion to future generations, and the remainder to estate taxes and fees. These estimates are conservative; the looming wealth transfer could be much higher.

    Brad Wolverton's "Gaining Families' Trust: Philanthropy adviser helps donors think deeply about giving" (The Chronicle of Philanthropy, November 11, 2004:31-33) addresses a topic to which apparently few organizers have yet paid attention: how wealthy people make charitable investment decisions, and how organizing might be a good investment for them given their values and priorities. "In response to a sharp rise in wealth across the country . . . < d > emand for wealth advisors is so high that if nonprofit organizations fail to start talking with high-net-worth individuals about these and other issues, they won't be privy to the financial planning of wealthy families and could lose out on future donations, some financial experts say." Wolverton contrasts the work of wealth advisors with that of financial advisors, featuring the work of Charles W. Collier of Harvard University, who describes the task of the wealth advisor as "a service which will help < wealthy families > think clearly and deeply about how much money they can give away." Collier's book - Wealth in Families (available for $15 via may be of interest to organizers in thinking about this increasingly significant potential revenue source. Collier's experience is that few prospective donor families have had the opportunity to talk deeply about what matters to them and how their money might advance these values and priorities. He has developed skill as a wealth advisor by combining his fundraising training with training on family systems theory. The recent outpouring of financial support for progressive political campaigns by wealthy individuals and families suggests some promise for organizing in reaching out to them and engaging them in conversations that may find a "fit" between their own values and the aims of organizing.

    Grantseeking and grantmaking: foundations and "alternative philanthropies"

    Good data on grant support of community organizing are not readily available. The official analyst of foundation funding, the Foundation Center, groups community organizing in a funding category called "Public Affairs/Society Benefit" which includes civil rights and social action, community improvement and development, philanthropy and volunteerism, and public affairs. The Center's most recent report on foundation giving -- "Foundation Giving Trends: Foundation Today Series" at finds that 13% of all grant dollars and 13% of all grants were made in this broader category that includes - but hardly comprises - community organizing. This percent is up slightly from the previous year, with the increase largely accounted for by foundation investments in nonpartisan voter participation issues in advance of the 2004 general election. Across the types of giving, foundation grantmaking for general support was at an all time high, accounting for 21.8% of all grantmaking dollars as "foundations responded to the greater need and demand for this type of support."

    Another broad perspective on grantmaking is provided by Robert Bothwell's "The Decline of Progressive Policy and the New Philanthropy," 2003 at Bothwell observes an important trend in grantmaking for community organizing over the past three decades: the emergence of what he calls "alternative philanthropies":

    In the USA, the momentous 1960s stimulated aggressive and successful social movements, concerning racial/ethnic peoples, women, gays and lesbians and the environment, which have grown in breadth and impact during the intervening years. These movements, in turn, produced important new progressive foundations and new alternative private funding institutions to provide money for the nonprofit organizations in the movements. The new alternative funding institutions were religious funders, Black United Funds, social action funds, Women's Funds, alternative community foundations, Native American foundations/funds, lesbian/gay/bisexual/ transsexual foundations, environmental federations, Hispanic funds and Asian Pacific American community funds. < Two specific examples include The Funding Exchange and its members and the Tides Foundation. > In some cases, this new money augmented the limited funds from government and traditional philanthropy. In many more cases, the new foundations and funding institutions gave grants to new and controversial organizations that would have received little if anything from government or mainline philanthropy (pp.71-2).

    Bothwell describes each category of alternative fund but notes these similarities:

    • They define themselves as being concerned with groups of people who are considered marginalized, discriminated against, or oppressed;

    • They were created as independent nonprofits;

    • Most raise funds as well as dispense them, and several of the alternatives have fought successfully for inclusion in mainstream workplace giving campaigns;

    • Most use - even create - intermediaries to expand their concepts and spheres of influence; and

    • They have provided entrepreneurial leadership to broaden the base of philanthropic support of work that has often been considered "too radical" for the interests of mainstream philanthropy.

    While Bothwell observes the great difficulties in examining trends in grant support of progressive social change organizations, he believes that the weight of the evidence of many different focused studies of different kinds of organizations and philanthropies suggests that alternative philanthropy is a significant and growing source of support for social change work (which would include but not be entirely comprised of community organizing). "These new progressive funding institutions' contributions, totaling $106 million circa 1998, may be more than one-quarter of all progressive social change grants in the USA." (p. 78). Bothwell summarizes several studies that suggest that the overall foundation investment in social change has increased during the years alternative philanthropies developed, but observes that we do not have enough data to know the extent to which the increase is accounted for by the funds or the example of alternative philanthropies, or by changes in grantmaking priorities uninfluenced by the alternative philanthropies.

    In addition to the Council on Foundations, which provides data on broad trends in foundation support, two websites of "affinity groups" of grantmakers may be of interest to organizers as they build grant support for their work. The first, the Neighborhood Funders Group ( is "a national network of foundations and philanthropic organizations. Our members support community-based efforts that improve economic and social conditions in low-income communities. NFG provides information, learning opportunities, critical thinking and other professional development activities to our members." The NFG's Community Organizing Toolbox ( by Larry Paranchini and Sally Covington, April 2001, at is a great primer for funders, to encourage more of them to invest more in organizing. "Its overall goals are to encourage grantmakers to learn more about the vital contributions that CO has made to broader community development and renewal efforts, and to help grantmakers learn how to undertake CO grantmaking" (p. 5). The monograph has two parts - the first, about community organizing and what it accomplishes; the second, covering why and how a range of grantmakers make organizing grants. Beyond its primary audience (funders), the Toolbox is valuable for organizing groups in helping them understand "what funders are looking for," particularly in laying out frameworks for articulating results and public benefit of organizing. The Toolbox puts forth a "case" for more foundation investments in organizing, asserting that organizing:

    • Is the baseline strategy for effective community revitalization.
    • Can help find solutions to the critical issues of poverty and race.
    • Can affect change by building the capacity of people and groups working at the grassroots level.
    • Can revitalize our democracy
    • Gets the best mileage for grant investments.
    • Is a long-term strategy that makes a significant difference.

    The Toolbox encourages grantmakers to look for these characteristics of effective organizing as they review proposals:

    • Involves large numbers of people in its geographic location
    • Actively involves members in the work of the organization in ways that go beyond subscribership or donating money.
    • Is democratic, with the leadership and staff accountable to the membership.
    • Has one or more of the following as principle objectives:
      • Developing the capacity of its members to participate effectively in public life;
      • Delivering concrete victories on issues of direct concern to its constituency; and
      • Affecting institutions, public policies and power relationships in ways that advance social, environmental and economic justice.3

    The other affinity group, the National Network of Grantmakers (, is a 275 member organization of grantmakers "who hold building civil society as a common goal." The role of NNG is twofold: "1) to provide members with services that help them do their work as grantmakers more effectively and efficiently, and 2) to help < members > prepare the philanthropic community to assume a more visible and assertive role in promoting and supporting social and economic justice in the United States and around the world." A prime contribution of NNG to the field is its standard grant application form. (, which seeks to simplify the grantseeking process by encouraging grantmakers to adopt a common set of application guidelines. To date, the NNG has published little else; additional research, communications, and a better website are in the works.

    There is a burgeoning literature on effective grantseeking, effective grantmaking, and trends in philanthropy. Some of it is evidence-based; some of it is more in the spirit of practice wisdom. The following are just a sampling of some very recent publications that we think are relevant to organizing:

    Felice Davidson Perlmutter and Vicki W. Kramer, "Progressive Social Change Funds: Strategies for Survival," Nonprofit Sector Research Fund Working Papers Series (The Aspen Institute, Spring 2001, at is neither about grantseeking or grantmaking, but, rather, about the sustainability challenges of progressive social change funds (which Robert Bothell calls "alternative philanthropies") , focusing on both the national and local affiliates of the Black United Fund, The Funding Exchange, Women's Funding Network, and the National Alliance for Choice in Giving (alternative workplace funds). Such funds both raise and grant funds to social change organizations, including organizing. We think organizing and social change funds have much to learn from one another and abstract this report in that spirit.

    Social change funds, much more so than organizing, are highly reliant on corporations (in the case of workplace giving based funds) and wealthy individuals in their fundraising. As such, these funds have much to learn from organizing about "democratic fundraising" practices such as membership dues and grassroots events. But their efforts to gain corporate and major donor support should be of interest to organizers.

    Funders reported to the authors that they "face major challenges in persuading individual and corporate donors to support social change" (p.17). Donors "do not understand" social change, find it threatening, cannot see its impact, or find it generally controversial, according to nearly 2/3 of the participants in this research. Funders articulate the need to be distinctive in the marketplace of donors, but "struggle to find the right language" to convey their distinctive niche without alienating them. Some funders believe their fundraising difficulties lie in a broader context, "that social change organizations are suffering from the same malaise as the rest of society and are not clear about what has to be done or where to start." Funders who focus on major donors struggle to make their funds a compelling giving opportunity without giving the donor too much control over how his/her gift will be used. And those who have succeeded in securing major donors struggle to find a balance between appropriate donor acknowledgement and honoring principles of democracy, in which recognition would not be based on wealth.

    Internally, social change funds resist investing in the internal capacity to expand their fundraising efforts out of concerns of efficiency - which any "surplus" resources should be granted to activist groups.

    Some innovations and trends (pp.55++):

    • The Atlanta Women's Foundation partners with women's professional organizations, gaining donations from members of these associations and involving them in grantmaking decisions.

    • Bread and Roses has organized a Socially Responsible Investment Club, which has succeeded in deepening relationships with donors/investors and increasing their gifts.

    • Community Shares of Wisconsin instituted a voluntary tax at a number of local stores, with customers contributing 1% of their purchases to the fund.

    • Headwaters Fund is advertising to likely supporters like public radio listeners.

    • Many are seeking new strategies to engage the "next generation" of donors, recognizing that most present donors are in the 35-65 age group. Developing new technology to do so is a key. The Milwaukee Women's Fund has created a fund from and for gifts made to infants.

    • Events are not widely used by these funds because of their potential to compete with grantees' events.

    • About half of the funders participating in this study had endowments, and the other half sought them, but very few had planning giving programs. Concerns about the longevity and staying power of the funds, funders report, posed major barriers to both.

    • Whether or not they are primarily workplace campaign funded, many funders reported serious problems in building workplace campaigns as results of the dominance of the United Way and its unwillingness to encourage alternative funds, to support social change, and to share donor information. A key challenge: "How should they deal with United Way's increasing use of the language of social change?"

    Dynell Garron, "Surviving the Funding Slump: Advice from a Grantmaker," at Tips from a grantmaker and author for effective grantseeking in an increasingly competitive environment. Beyond the usual ones - align your request with the grantmakers' guidelines and interests, adjust your expectations in light of reduced grantmaking among many foundations, make sure your "house" is in order - Garron recommends the prospective grantees keep themselves in front of both prospective and current grantmakers via frequent communications. Key elements of a proposal: an articulation of how the proposal helps the funder accomplish his/her goals, evidence of solid implementation and management capacity, and evidence that the proposal addresses a significant community need.

    The National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, "Understanding Social Justice Philanthropy" (Author: April 2, 2003, at examines the concept of "social justice philanthropy" and makes a case for foundations to invest in it. Grant support for community organizing is clearly located in this larger concept. The definition: "Social justice philanthropy is the practice of making contributions to nonprofit organizations that work for structural change and increase the opportunity of those who are less well off politically, economically, and socially" (p.6). The Committee notes it's not "what" but "how" that distinguishes social justice philanthropy from traditional charity. Social justice philanthropy would target efforts to research root causes of social problems, disseminate this information broadly, and invest in social movements - such as organizing, grassroots activism, coalitions, and legal advocacy -- that work toward greater social, economic, or political equity. The inclusion of constituents most affected by problems of concern - in information collection, action, and grantmaking - is also a defining hallmark of social justice philanthropy.

    NCRP roots social justice philanthropy in the work of philosophers such as Rousseau and Rawls, obversers of the American scene like DeToqueville, economists like Amartya Sen, educators like Paulo Friere, and in all the world's major religions. They conclude:

    We hope that by doing so < by defining social justice philanthropy >, we can encourage foundations to realize the benefit of this type of grantmaking and practice it. It is . . . the most cost effective form of grantmaking < and > . . . also the right thing to do for people who are in the business of doing the right thing. By addressing social ills at their source and thus structurally improving the conditions of the most disadvantaged among us, philanthropy can fulfill its moral imperative (pp.19-20).

    Joel Orosz, PhD, "One Program Officer's Candid Tips for Grantseekers," unpublished, 2003, at or This former program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation offers these tips about working with foundations:

    • Give the program officer a call first and attempt to get a meeting before submitting a proposal, to better understand the foundation's guidelines and strategy and to build a working relationship

    • "Beware the 'third rail'," statements that will lead to a proposal decline, such as ones that talk about what the foundation will not fund, or that suggest a critical organizational weakness.

    • Call if you are declined to better understand why, and if/when/how you should reapply.

    His tips on what makes a good proposal include a focus on innovation, honesty about gaps in resources or expertise, discussion of larger context of proposal, involvement of clients/members, focus on community benefit rather than organizational need, investments of the organization (cash and in kind) in the proposed program, clear commitment to implement what is proposed whether or not it is funded, evidence that the approach proposed will realize comprehensive community benefit and is collaborative, openness to evaluation, post-grant continuation plan, and potential to work elsewhere.

    Patrick Boyle, "Core Support Wins Endorsement, but Will It Matter," Youth Today, May 2004, pp. 34-35. This article describes a meeting of 50 top foundation executives last June to advocate for a shift from special project to core support in foundation giving. Hewlett, Rockefeller Bros., Edna McConnell Clark, Surdna, and OSI were sponsors. The author observes that 19% of foundation grant dollars in 2002 were for general operating support, up from 13% over the previous several years. The host group issued a statement, "Guidelines for the Funding of Nonprofit Organizations," that defines core support and explains its value and accountability. The Independent Sector board unanimously endorsed the statement. It is posted at

    Two short pieces for grantmakers by Craig McGarvey -- Democracy's Promise: Newcomer Civic Participation in America (San Francisco: Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, n.d.), Civic Participation and the Promise of Democracy (Author, 2004) - "lobby" foundations to support organizing and other grassroots activities within the framework of promoting democratic/civic participation in our society.

    Lee Winkelman's "Funders' Support Grows as the Impact of Community Organizing Grows" in National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, State of Philanthropy 2004 (Washington, DC: Author, October 2004), pp. 74-79 is the arguments of a grantmaker-champion of organizing to encourage more philanthropies to invest more in organizing. Winkelman summarizes Bothwell's (2003) research suggesting increasing funding levels for social change in the past 30 years and provides rich but anecdotal evidence of recent organizing victories in affordable housing and community development, jobs, immigration, and so forth. His recommendations for effective grantmaking in community organizing (quoted, pp. 78-9):

    • Provide long term operating support;
    • Look for both depth and scale;
    • Coordinate with other funders;
    • Support capacity building;
    • If you do not have extensive experience with community organizing, get help;
    • Provide more funding to community organizing.

    Scott Nielsen, Grabriel Kasper, & Jessica Chao, "Democracy in Action" (Foundation News & Commentary, November/December 2004:47-50) describe the growth in "focus funds" as "the next growth area for community philanthropy" (the significant foundation investment in strengthening community funds in the 70's was a previous growth area). Focus funds are "grassroots philanthropies established by groups of people with common experiences and culture, where the power of connection lies not in geographic proximity, but rather in shared charitable interests." They both raise money and make grants. Racial and ethnic minorities, gay and lesbian individuals, women, and youth - those who have felt excluded from philanthropic processes, both as donors and as grantees - are creating their own funds, often with the leveraging muscle of large foundations. Some of these funds are free-standing; some are housed in other progressive foundations (for example, the Liberty Hill Foundation houses the Lesbian and Gay Community Fund of Los Angeles); and some are created as initiatives of community foundations. Focus funds may support social services, community development, and/or social change. Their value, according to the authors, lies in:

    • "translating philanthropic practice into the language, culture, and interests" of diverse communities, developing a capacity to become "powerful conduits for integrating mew voices and perspectives into the culture and infrastructure of organized philanthropy";

    • the involvement of members of diverse communities in assessing and meeting - through small grants - rapidly changing community needs and opportunities, and

    • their ability to build linkages within and outside of their communities to leverage systems changes of benefit to those communities.

    While organizing is not specifically mentioned as a common interest of focus funds, to the extent that these funds are rooted in activist cultural traditions such as the "social protest" tradition of the African American community, focus funds would seem to have a natural affinity with the goals of organizing and are thus a development that bears further exploration as a funding resource for organizing.

    Donor advised funds; venture philanthropy; "double bottom line" corporate philanthropy.

    While grassroots fundraising and foundation grants remain the bread and butter of organizing revenues, the practice literature describes some new opportunities for nonprofit fundraising in new generations of individual and corporate wealth. Essentially, the wealth created by the post WW II generation and expanded by the economic boom of the 90's has created new donors with new philanthropic interests. And the new economy, dominated by technology and services, has spawned a new kind of corporate philanthropy. The following are some recent readings about these trends.

    Ben Gose, "A Revolution Was Ventured, But What Did It Gain," The Chronicle of Philanthropy, August 21, 2003, pp. 6-9. A discussion of the origin of venture philanthropy in tech firms and tech generated wealth that includes current leaders like Social Venture Partners. The article might be useful to entrepreneurial organizers, helping them understand what venture philanthropy is and think about how organizing might create social ventures or position itself in this movement.

    Deborah L. Jacobs, "Altruistic Alternatives: Donor-advised funds or private foundations? How to choose what's best for you." Fidelity Outlook (November 2003): 15-19. This is a discussion for a donor audience of these two alternatives. It provides a reminder for those of us interested in strengthening the organizing fundraising infrastructure that major donors can invest in organizing in at least five ways: directly, through a donor-advised commercial fund like Fidelity or Schwab, through a fund for organizing set up in a community foundation, through a donor-advised fund in a community foundation, and by creating their own foundation.

    Claudia H. Deutsch, "Learning to Cast Bread Upon the Waters, Wisely," NY Times, 3-14-04, BU 7. This article describes the work of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in helping middle income people donate wisely. One challenge for organizing is how to "get on the screen" of philanthropic advisors like this one. The Council on Foundation's website of funding categories,, suggests one reason why: Community Organizing is not on the funding "menu".

    Nicole Wallace, "Charities Debate Best Ways to Serve Society and Create New Sources of Revenue," Chronicle of Philanthropy, March 18, 2004, at This article focuses on the "blended value" idea that corporations can achieve both business and social goals with their philanthropy. (Bank investments in community organizing as part of CRA compliance would be an excellent example.) Stonyfield Farms' philanthropy and California Public Employees' Retirement Systems' investment in community economic development are featured. For further discussion of "blended value": and the Social Enterprise Alliance, has good definitions and a "map" for corporations seeking a "triple bottom line". We think the idea of "double" or "triple" bottom lines is an interesting one to introduce into organizing thinking because overly-dichotomous thought with respect to fundraising limits revenue potential.

    Pablo Eisenberg, "Opinion: The Public Loses Out When Charities Become Too Businesslike," Chronicle of Philanthropy (June 10, 2004):42. Eisenberg reminds us that over 90% of small businesses fail, and it may be a diversion of effort rather than a promising sustainability strategy for small nonprofits to try to earn income via business ventures. He particularly thinks that businesses are especially risky to mission-fulfillment of change oriented nonprofits.

    Leah Kerkman, Cassie J. Moore, and Brad Wolverton, "Growing Assets and Concerns," The Chronicle of Philanthropy, April 28, 2005, pp. 24-29. With new donor-advised tools like commercial funds (such as Fidelity Investments' Charitable Fund and the Schwab Fund for Charitable Giving) and new donor-advised options in community funds, an opportunity ahead for community organizing is to get "on the screen" of new small and large donors. The funds are highly appealing to donors because they enable them to donate appreciated securities tax free, take a charitable deduction, and determine which charities will benefit from grants made out of the fund. The Chronicle annually surveys the field and includes a great chart naming the funds. Two years ago the Chronicle reported a downturn in these funds (Marni D. Larose and Brad Wolverton, "Donor-Advised Funds Experience Drop in Contributions, Survey Finds," The Chronicle of Philanthropy, May 15, 2003, pp. 7, 10-12) and last year found an upturn -- a 9.4% growth in assets of donor-advised funds over the past year (Leah Kerkman and Nicole Lewis, "Donor Funds Are on the Rise Again," The Chronicle of Philanthropy, May 27, 2004, pp. 21-24). This year's survey found a 15% median growth, with over 2/3 of funds experiencing double or triple digit increases. "The organizations that participated in the survey collectively held $130 billion in assets and distributed more than $2.6-billion to charities." Fidelity Charitable Gift is by far the largest of these, with over $2.7 B in assets; donors distributed $693M through this fund in 2004, an increase of 19.3% over the previous year. The survey also includes tracking the growing number of donor advised funds in community foundations nationwide.

    "What California Donors Want: In Their Own Voices" at is a study of interest to those who may wish to try to make organizing understandable and valued to emerging philanthropists. The kinds of information donors want - "best practices," etc. - are often not readily available about the organizing field because it is so diffuse (multiple networks, no single credentialing system, etc.) and because there is so little scholarly research on the field.

    The 21st Century Foundation (, a Black foundation that supports community change in the African American community, is cultivating "new wealth" donors and creating new donor advised funds to increase the extent and impact of their grantmaking. One donor advised fund, Young Tycoons, was created by entrepreneurs to support youth entrepreneurship projects. The Fund is encouraging the creation of "giving circles" as a means of building and supporting its donor base.

    For organizers who may wish to market to "socially responsible investors" and socially responsible investment advisors as a means of building their major donor bases, The Chronicle on Philanthropy's special issue on endowments (May 27-28, 2004) lists these websites:

    "Self-financing" strategies.

    Self financing strategies are entrepreneurial activities, as contrasted to philanthropic donations., the website of the Nonprofit Enterprise and Self-sustainability Team, provides the following list of self-financing strategies:

    • Membership dues - in exchange for membership services or benefits;

    • Fees for services

    • Product sales

    • Use of "soft" assets (licensing agreements, patents, copyrights, mailing lists)

    • Use of "hard" assets (rental of unutilized space or equipment, real estate)

    • Ancillary business enterprises

    • Investment dividends (savings interest, stocks)

    Beyond membership dues, training fees, and a couple of examples of product sales (see Robinson book), we could find few examples in the literature of entrepreneurial fundraising in organizing. The following, thus, includes websites and literature that we think might be of interest to organizing even if it does not specifically address organizing practice. provides case studies of small development nonprofits around the world. While none are directly about organizing, the organizations' sizes and empowerment-focused missions are quite kindred with organizing, and, thus organizers may find some ideas useful and relevant. This nonprofit helps "nonprofit organizations generate Community Wealth by getting them to think about their assets in a new way - as valuable commodities that can be leveraged to create wealth." Their focus is new business enterprises and corporate/nonprofit partnerships such as sponsorship, licensing, or cause-related marketing.

    Idan Ivri, "Nonprofit Enterprise: Learning By Example," The Grantsmanship Center Magazine (Spring 2004):23-27 provides a great listing of websites and books of information and case studies on nonprofit ventures. None of these are specifically focused on organizing, but organizers may find that some information and ideas are quite relevant to their work. In addition to those already described directly above, these are mentioned:

    •, the website of the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, which includes a text of cases of ventures that employ homeless people;

    •, the website of The Social Enterprise Alliance, a membership group of individuals and institutions interested in promoting nonprofit entrepreneurship that sponsors a listserv at

    McCormick, Kristen J. and Sarah Eisinger, Profiting from Purpose: Profiles of Success and Challenge in Eight Social Purpose Businesses (Seedco, 2005, available by download at includes as one of its eight case studies a temporary employment agency created by the Fifth Avenue Committee in Brooklyn, a community based economic development organization that grew out of a block club federation created to organize for balanced development in a newly gentrifying community.

    While most organizers have traditionally avoided government funding as counter to the goal of building autonomous and sustainable organizations, others have found the process of gaining direct appropriations a good organizing experience similar to that of gaining foundation grants, and some have found ways to operate government-funded or government-administered (as in the case of the tobacco settlement) programs that build leadership and cover some organizing expenses. While the issue of whether or not to pursue public funding remains controversial in the organizing field, The Praxis Project asserts that budget advocacy is one possible means of generating sustainable revenue for organizing and community development programs The Project has developed a Budget Cut Toolkit (, that, while focused on redirecting public budgets to meet community-defined needs and priorities, suggests that the community level institutions that give voice to and/or meet these needs and priorities should be provided for in the advocacy strategy: "Adequate funding is critical to realizing our long-term community organizing and policy advocacy goals. The follow-through, implementation, and oversight of our wins are often times just as important as the victory itself. Budget advocacy is a critical part of this follow-through."

    Robinson, Andy, Selling Social Change (Without Selling Out) (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002). (Also available through This is a well-written, nuts and bolts kind of manual with lots of ideas for progressive nonprofits of mission-relevant entrepreneurial activities. Two cases in this book are of particular interest to us. One is of an organizing group - the South West Organizing Project (SWOP) in New Mexico - that has raised funds through sales of a book. SWOP was given the rights to an account of local Chicano history that they market to educators. SWOP also raises funds through the sales of T shirts, gift cards, etc. The other case is a research intermediary that charges stiff fees to large institutions so that it can provide research affordably to community organizing and other social action groups. Its relevance to organizing groups is that organizing often has excellent research data - community demographics, resident surveys, issues analyses -- that might be of saleable interest to others (corporations or nonprofits).

    Online fundraising

    There is a burgeoning practice literature on online fundraising for nonprofits. While the weight of that literature maintains that an organization first needs to develop effective systems and prospects for raising funds from individuals in the traditional ways, the experiences of the Howard Dean campaign and suggest that the Internet can itself be an effective progressive organizing tool that also supports fundraising. The following is just a sampling of recent online giving literature:, which sets up and processes on line giving for nonprofits, publishes the Online Fundraising Handbook on its website. Chapter 8 lists some basic starter how-tos: build an e mail list, start a monthly e-newsletter, establish secure online donation processing, and promote your website in all your communications.

    Lewis, Marylin, "Internet Donations Suffer Slow Connections," Youth Today (June 2004):34-35 describes the experiences of a number of youth serving organizations with Internet fundraising, finding that the Internet produces disappointing results thus far. These agencies have signed up with internet giving mechanisms such as Network for Good, Ameridollars (, School Pop (, iGive ( WellSpent (, Groundspring, and various shopping sites. Returns have been extremely modest, but agencies also say they now recognize, as Dorothy Stoneman of YouthBuild says, that "Now we have to do the hard work of driving people to our website.". The article quotes Ted Hart, Executive Director of ePhilanthropy ( "Hart's tough-love message to his consulting clients: No matter how huge the number of people using the Internet, 'there are not millions of people waiting by their mouse to leave a gift to you.' Fund raising, he says, 'is done by relationship-building and by people known to the charity'. The old rules of fundraising still govern - most notably, that it's built on relationships. Hart advises clients to view online options not as fundraising tools, but as relationship tools."

    Stein, Michael and John Kenyon, "A Decade of Online Fundraising," The Nonprofit Quarterly, (Winter 2004):66-75 is an excellent summary of online fundraising challenges, opportunities, competencies, and resources. Key findings:

    • Online fundraising success is correlated with organizational size and sophistication, but smaller organizations can be successful if they rely "on their imagination and creativity to create successful Internet campaigns" - as well as their "greater sense of intimacy" (p. 68).

    • Attributes of successful Internet fundraising: senior level buy-in, appropriate staffing and technology, internal cooperation, a "clear and disciplined" (p. 68) fundraising plan, a "clear and focused" (p. 68) brand, and a membership organization with a regional or national audience.

    • Effective online fundraising techniques: an appealing Web site with complete information about how donations are spent, a "multi-channel" marketing and communications program of which the Internet is one component, high attention to list building and donor/market segmentation, and, last but not least for organizers, tight connection to the organizing work: "< O > nline fundraising is not an isolated activity - it is intimately tied to all the other parts of the constituent relationship" (p. 71).

    Stein and Kenyon provide an excellent discussion of the implications of MoveOn and the Dean campaign for Internet based fundraising for nonprofits. Among other observations, they point out that the Internet can promote communication among an organization's leaders and members. An interview with Eli Pariser of MoveOn yields these lessons for organizers:

    • "We tend to do our fundraising around concrete opportunities < ed. note: rather than general appeals > it's not a 'Help us fund MoveOn for the next five years' message. It's 'We want to put this ad on the air tomorrow, can you help us'?" (p. 73).

    • Pariser believes that online fundraising needs to be approached "in a more holistic way than from the point of view of getting people to give online." Online fundraising should be approached as "developing a program to engage people online with what the organization is fundamentally about, and from that the fundraising follows." (p. 73).

    • To succeed with online fundraising, Pariser seeks a staff "geek organizer - someone who understands both how to get people involved in things and also how the technology works." (p. 73)

    The authors' conclusion: Online fundraising strengthens the "old" cardinal rule of fundraising -"it's all about relationships" - by making technology a tool to increase organizations' "breadth and immediacy with their donors". (p. 75).

    Stein, Michael, "WEBSITES for Fundraising," Grassroots Fundraising Journal (May-June 2004):9-12. A brief summary of effective use of websites in fundraising, by the Associate Director of Groundspring. The article begins with a list of how websites support fundraising (increase your reach and visibility, provides information, etc.) and offers 11 very practical tips for giving a website more fundraising impact (write clearly with visuals, make the mission statement easy to find, include history about the organization and information about its key staff and leaders, use clear navigation, use easy and secure giving tools, offer an array of donor options, collect information on visitors, display a privacy policy, develop an e newsletter, engage supporters in online advocacy campaigns, and, of course, ask).

    Wallace, Nicole, "Online Donations Surge," Chronicle of Philanthropy (June 10, 2004):25-30. This article focuses on large charities, and their fundraising experiences, of course, may be of limited relevance to small community organizing groups. A survey of large nonprofits finds a 48% increase in online giving from 2002 to 2003. For 50 organizations on which data were available, online giving grew from $11.3M in 2000 to $47.8M in 2003. But the article is also "bullish" about the potential for online giving for small and medium sized charities. Groundspring-handled donations were up from $1.1M in 2002 to $1.8M in 2003. handled $6.4M in gifts in 2003, up from $893,222 in 2002. Network for Food handled 80,000 givers in 2003, double the number of 2002. Of large organizations, two (Heifer International and the United Way of Atlanta) raised over 15% of their revenue online in 2003. United Ways particularly like online giving because it is easy for corporations.

    More general fundraising literature that may be of interest to organizers Kim Klein's website has useful information, including fundraising tips and publications, on grassroots fundraising ideas.

    Lampkin, Linda, "Being Transparent: What Forms 990 on the Web Means for Nonprofits," for the National Center for Charitable Statistics and The Urban Institute, at With the evolution of Guidestar as the "go to" place for prospective donors and funders of nonprofit organizations, the accuracy and quality of the Form 990 takes on added import as a fundraising tool. The author observes three reasons nonprofits should care about their Form 990s:

    • Compliance with state charity regulating bodies;

    • Accountability to the public; and

    • Public relations, an opportunity "to present themselves and their programs in the most accurate and positive way. Often, the form may be the first introduction of an organization to a potential donor."

    Nevertheless, she observes, "< m > any nonprofits, including their executives, board members, and accountants, pay scant attention to the form."

    Increasingly, with the easy access made possible by Guidestar and also the IRS, the Form 990 can be useful to:

    • Donors, as the first check of an organization s/he has heard about or received information about. Donors tend to be interested in how the organization's activities are described, what its funding mix is, and what its administrative and fundraising costs are.

    • Nonprofits themselves, enabling a nonprofit, for instance, to compare top salary levels, Board characteristics, and income and expenses with their peers, toward increasing organizational effectiveness.

    • Researchers, to better understand nonprofit management, governance, scope of activity, and income and expense patterns. Fundraising resource lists via Neighborhoods Online. Includes foundations, corporations, government grants programs, and web-based fundraising sites appropriate for community organizing and community building.

    Peter Frumkin and Mark T. Kim, "Strategic Positioning and the Financing of Nonprofit Organizations: Is Efficiency Rewarded in the Contributions Marketplace?" Public Administration Review 61(May-June2001): 266-271.

    This article is interesting because it provides empirical support for the idea that assiduous marketing to donors and funders is more important than evidence of a "lean & mean" organization in gaining funder/donor support. The empirical base is a study of Form 990s of 2,359 nonprofits who submitted 990s for every year of the decade 1985-1995. This is the universe of nonprofits that have to file 990s and did so each of these years. The authors set the stage for the analysis in observing that the proliferation of nonprofits in this decade increases competition for scarce charitable donations and grants. The authors test two hypotheses:1) organizations with lower administrative to total expense ratios will report higher contributions than those with higher administrative expenses, and 2) those which spend more money on marketing and raising funds will raise more contributions. The data analysis refuted the first hypothesis and supported the second. "< The data > suggest that nonprofit organizations that spend more marketing themselves to the donating public do better raising contributed income than organizations focused upon leaner, more efficient operations. No matter the field of activity, positioning around mission positively influenced the flow of contributions" (271). "Strategic positioning through the aggressive communication of mission" is a key to raising funds (272).

    Recognizing that most organizers learn their profession via training institutes and "on the ground" experience, we nevertheless thought it might be helpful to our inquiry to see how texts of organizing teach fundraising practice. We selected Herbert and Irene Rubin's Community Organizing and Development (Needham Hts. MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2001) as an illustration because we know the Rubins to be very 'hands on' for academics. Their text pays scant attention to the important organizing skill of raising resources to build and sustain powerful community organizations. A few pages in Part Four, Mobilizing and Sustaining Community Activism - Building Capacity in an Empowered Organization, cover fundraising basics with a focus on grassroots fundraising. The authors reflect the larger ambivalence in the organizing field about fundraising, asserting on one page that "Fund-raising is difficult and takes time away from action campaigns and social production work" (p. 204), but on the very next page, "Fund-raising does take time, but it need not distract the principal mission of the group. By obtaining small sums of money from multiple sources, the organization can protect itself from being captured by one funder" (p. 205). A few pages in Part Six, The Social Production Model - Accomplishing the Social Production Project, describe government contracting, partnerships with commercial firms, networked partnerships of community based organizations, and partnerships with government, revenue strategies that may be relevant to some organizing groups, but the discussion really seemed more oriented to community development corporations.

    The Nonprofit Quarterly (descriptions of recent editions, some articles, and subscription information may be found at routinely offers practical and thought-provoking articles about sustaining and strengthening a variety of nonprofits, and articles are often of particular relevance to small and progressive ones. A recent edition includes an excellent article by Jon Pratt, "Analyzing the Dynamics of Funding: Reliability and Autonomy" (Nonprofit Quarterly, Summer 2004, pp. 8-13) that provides a more sophisticated analytic framework about funding sources than the simple "external/internal" one widely in use in organizing. Pratt focuses on two key aspects of a particular funding source: 1) its reliability, or the extent to which the organization can predict revenues from year to year, and 2) its autonomy, the extent to which an organization does or does not sign on to a set of conditions attached to funding. His framework includes eight funding sources and three levels of both reliability and autonomy. At the extreme, a dominant funding base of individual contributions is high on both reliability and autonomy; a dominant funding base of foundation grants is low on both reliability and autonomy.

    Pratt asserts that an organization dominated by low-reliability funding needs a good cash reserve, Board and management very focused on financial management, a strong cadre of volunteers to maintain activities in the event of staff position de-funding, good research on funder trends, and the capacity to submit multiple applications to offset declines. An organization dominated by low-autonomy funding needs expert negotiation skills, assiduous monitoring to assess "fit" between mission and restricted funds pursued, the ability to decline a gift or grant with incompatible restrictions attached to it, strong financial management systems to comply with restrictions, multiple funding sources to be able to walk away from a particular one if needed, and participation in policy coalitions that can advocate for lesser restrictions by funding sources. An excellent chart is supplied on pages 12-13.


    1. See [back]

    2. See [back]

    3. Lisa Ranghelli, Andrew Mott, Larry Parachini, "Strengthening Neighborhood Organizing in Hartford: A Report to the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving", unpublished mss, September 2004, p. 3. [back]

    4. See, for example, Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max, Organizing for Social Change, 3rd ed. (Santa Ana CA: Seven Locks Press, 2001); Ernesto Cortez, "Reweaving the Civic Fabric", Boston Review (June/Sept 1994, at; and Si Kahn, Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders (Silver Spring MD: NASW Press, 1991). See also our Annotated Bibliography. [back]

    5. Rigorous research on this point is sorely lacking. The studies cited immediately below support this conclusion; see also Robert O. Bothwell, "Foundation Funding of Grassroots Organizations", 2001, at; Benjamin Marquez, "Mexican-American Political Organizations and Philanthropy" Bankrolling a Social Movement" (Social Service Review [September 2003] :329-346); and Larry Paranchini and Sally Covington, Community Organizing Toolbox (Neighborhood Funders' Group, April 2001, at [back]

    6. Jerome Don Harris, "Grass-Roots Organizing in the City of Chicago" (PhD Thesis, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1980). [back]

    7. Carl Milofsky and Frank Romo, "The Structure of Funding Arenas for Neighborhood Based Organizations", in Carl Milofsky, ed., Community Organizations" Studies in Resource Mobilization and Exchange (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). [back]

    8. John D. McCarthy and Jim Castelli, "Working for Justice: The Campaign for Human Development and Poor Empowerment Groups" [Life Cycle Institute of the Catholic University of America, unpublished mss, November 1994. [back]

    9. Mark R. Warren and Richard L. Wood ("Faith Based Community Organizing: The State of the Field", 2001, at [back]

    10. Kristina Smock, Democracy in Action: Community Organizing and Urban Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). [back]

    11. See Robert Matthews Johnson, Why Philanthropy Must Make Democracy. The First Charity (Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press, 1988); Robert Fisher and Joseph Kling, Mobilizing the Community: Local Politics in the Era of the Global City (Sage, 1993) ; and Marquez, "Mexican American Political Organizations and Philanthropy", op cit; [back]

    12. McCarthy and Castelli, "Working for Justice", op cit, n.p. (Executive Summary). [back]

    13. Milofsky and Romo, "The Structure of Funding Arenas for neighborhood Based Organizations." op cit, pp.239-40. [back]

    14. For more information about what the Form 990 is and how it is being used to foster accountability and donor interest in the nonprofit sector, see [back]

    15. Jon Pratt, "Analyzing the Dynamics of Funding: Reliability and Autonomy" (Nonprofit Quarterly, Summer 2004, pp. 8-13). [back]

    16. See first section of this report, "How Organizing is Funded". [back]

    17. Miller, Mike. (n.d.) "Beyond the Politics of Place: A Critical Review."[back]

    18. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Constraints. SWOC analysis is used to identify an organization's strong points (what you should "lead with,") and weaknesses (what functional areas you must either avoid or build up). SWOC analysis also examines the organization's environment, to assess opportunities that can be taken advantage of as well as constraints that must be kept in mind. See, for example: [back]

    19. "Can the Debate be Resolved? The Controversy About Community Organizing and Community Development", unpublished working paper of the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund. [back]

    20. Stein, Michael and John Kenyon, "A Decade of Online Fundraising", The Nonprofit Quarterly, (Winter 2004):66-75 [back]

    21. Stoecker, Randy, "Cyberspace vs. Face to Face: Community Organizing in the New Millennium", paper presented on COMM-ORG: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing and Development. [back]

    22. Christina Roessler, "From Exclusion to Inclusion: Strengthening Community-led Organizations with Effective Technology," available on PTP's website at [back]

    23. See, for example, Benjamin Marquez' "Mexican-American Political Organizations and Philanthropy" Bankrolling a Social Movement" (Social Service Review< September 2003 >:329-346); Mike Miller, "Can the Debate be Resolved? The Controversy About Community Organizing and Community Development", unpublished working paper of the Nonprofit Sector Research Fund; and Chapter 2 of Kris Smock, Democracy in Action: Community Organizing and Urban Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). [back]

    *.  This subsection was written by Sandy O'Donnell.  [back]

    24. See, for example, Robert O. Bothwell, "Foundation Funding of Grassroots Organizations", 2001, at; Robert Matthews Johnson, Why Philanthropy Must Make Democracy . . The First Charity (Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press, 1988; and Larry Paranchini and Sally Covington, Community Organizing Toolbox (Neighborhood Funders Group, April 2001, at [back]

    25. NFG's "mission is to strengthen the capacity of organized philanthropy to understand and support community-based efforts to organize and improve the economic and social fabric of low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities". The Toolbox: Larry Paranchini and Sally Covington, Community Organizing Toolbox (Neighborhood Funders' Group, April 2001, at [back]

    26. Robert Matthews Johnson, Why Philanthropy Must Make Democracy. The First Charity (Cabin John, MD: Seven Locks Press, 1988). [back]

    27. Seth Borgos and Scott Douglas, "Community Organizing and Civic Renewal: A View from the South", Social Policy (Winter 1996): 18-28. [back]

    28. Kristina Smock, Democracy in Action: Community Organizing and Urban Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). [back]

    29. Emmett Carson, speech, "The Road Not Yet Traveled", presented 12/4/04 at Community Foundations: Symposium on a Global Movement, Berlin, Germany [back]

    30. At [back]

    31. Robert Bothwell, "Foundation Funding of Grassroots Organizations", 2001, at [back]

    32. The Community Organizing Toolbox, page 49. [back]

    33. [back]

    34. John J. Havens and Paul G. Schervish, "Why The $41 Trillion Wealth Transfer Estimate Is Still Valid: A Review Of Challenges And Questions," The National Committee on Planned Giving's The Journal of Gift Planning. Vol. 7, no. 1, 1st Quarter 2003. pp. 11-15, 47-50; at [back]

    35. For example, Alinsky meets Bishop Sheil, a left-leaning "champagne socialist" who champions the causes of the poor but keeps an apartment at the Waldorf Astoria, through Joe Meegan's < Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council leader > brother, who was Sheil's secretary, and Sheil goes on to introduce Alinsky to Marshall Field III (p.85), make it possible for him to meet Agnes Meyer (p. 255), and so forth. He meets Herman Dunlop (Dutch) Smith through a woman who served with Smith on the Community Fund (p. 95); Smith joins his board and becomes a major giver until Alinsky opposed the University of Chicago's position on the future of Woodlawn (p. 412). Alinsky meets Leonard Rieser, attorney for the Julius Rosenwald estate, through his first wife, Helene, and Rieser introduces him to Adele Rosenwald Levy (daughter of Julius) (p. 186), who joins his Board and, later, introduces him to trustees of Emil Schwarzhaupt's estate (p. 267). The Schwartzhaupt Foundation became a major, steady supporter of the Industrial Areas Foundation during Alinsky's life. He meets Kathryn Lewis (daughter of Lohn L.) through an organizer friend (p. 91); this relationship leads to one with the father that ultimately generated a major book advance for a biography of Lewis at a time when IAF was virtually broke (p. 215). Through Catholic leaders in Chicago, he meets New York based Msgr. O'Grady, who introduces him to prominent Jewish philanthropists who lead him to sizeable grants from the New York Foundation (pp. 280++). He falls out with Bishop Sheil over Sheil's unambiguous anti-McCarthyism (p. 255), but gains new Catholic allies in progressive activist John Egan and pro-McCarthyite Cardinal Stritch that gain him major Archdiocese funding through his remaining years (pp. 277-367) and an introduction to Mark Gordon Sherman of Midas Muffler wealth who agrees to underwrites IAF as a training institute if it is located in Chicago (p. 516). David Ramage proved a significant "marketer" of Alinsky to national Protestant churches, gaining their support for organizing TWO and FIGHT (p. 383, 388, 459). [back]

    36. Reveille for Radicals, first published by a small university press (the University of Chicago Press) became a best seller almost overnight (p. 176). Agnes Meyer, publisher of the Washington Post, wrote a series of articles about his work that were widely reprinted; that series plus the success of Reveille got him Time coverage as well (p. 177). A path breaking series of articles by T. George Harris in Fortune on the state of American cities, "The Exploding Metropolis", featured Alinsky's work (p. 311). And Charles Silberman's Crisis in Black and White lifted up The Woodlawn Organization as "the most important and most impressive experiment affecting Negroes anywhere in the United States" (quoted on p. 449). After this pivotally important book, which quickly became a best seller and helped shape the War on Poverty, came out, Alinsky was finally able to capture large grants from major foundations such as Ford and Rockefeller, describing his new-found financial success as "my stock split two for one" (quoted on p. 450). Rockefeller gave Alinsky a $225K grant for the IAF training institute around 1970, and Time published a two page essay, "Radical Saul Alinsky: Prophet of Power to the People" that glimpses the extent of his following ­ and even mainstream respectability -- shortly before his death. [back]


    The team wishes to thank its able research assistant, Katie Claussen, a master's degree candidate at Loyola University of Chicago, who collected and cleaned vast amounts of quantitative and qualitative data. Thanks as well to the Center for Community Change for its terrific technical and staff support, and to Deepak Bhargava, Seth Borgos, Lynn Kanter, Sean Merchant, Julia Paik, and Karen Stults specifically. Special thanks to the National Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and particularly to Renee Brereton and to all CCHD grantees, for making it possible for us to review grantee fundraising and budget records.

    The report was supported by grants from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago. Thanks especially to our program officers, Cris Doby of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Tom David and Chantel Walker of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Ricardo Millett, Deborah Harrington, and Jeff Pinzino of the Woods Fund of Chicago for their advice, suggestions, and encouragement.

    Lastly, the team wishes to thank all of the organizers, grantmakers, and organizing observers who so generously gave this project their time, thought, and information about their practice. A list of all who participated in interviews, conversations, and focus groups is provided at the end of our report.

    About the authors

    This report was prepared for the Center for Community Change by a team of three researchers long committed to community organizing. Jane Beckett was formerly a Program Officer for the New Prospect Foundation and has done labor, community, and political organizing. She has raised grass roots money for six membership organizations as a leader or staff and has trained many organizations to do SWOC analyses of themselves so that they can improve their internal fundraising. Sandy O'Donnell, PhD, has 25+ years of experience in applied community research and recently completed a study of sustainability issues of African American community building organizations. She also raises money for two community-based social change organizations and consults with foundations and nonprofits. Jean Rudd was President of the Woods Fund of Chicago (and its predecessor, Woods Charitable Fund) from 1980 to 2000; community organizing has been a top funding priority of this foundation for over two decades in part due to her initiative and continuing support. She now consults with foundations and nonprofits.

    The summary report of this research is available at the Center for Community Change website ( Additional copies the full report are available upon request to Jane Beckett at or 708.524.8004.

    Readers are welcome to contact any of the authors about specific sections of the report. They may be contacted as follows:

    Sandy O'Donnell:
    Jane Beckett:
    Jean Rudd: