Rapid Response for Resistance: How These Funders Came Together to Fight Injustice

The Emergent Fund, a collaboration of Women Donors Network, Solidaire, Threshold Fund, and Democracy Alliance, has published a report detailing their strategy in deploying funds rapidly to address human rights and social justice.

“The Emergent Fund started as a plane built in mid-air. We moved faster than comfort allowed in developing a funding response to the new threats posed by the 2016 election because the scale of the crisis that loomed was so large, multidimensional, and immediate. Resources were urgently needed in many places and without much time for deliberation.” 

So begins Visionary Resistance, a new report reviewing how several donor networks came together to invest $ 1 million rapidly for efforts to protect  those most marginalized and targeted by a Trump presidency. Aptly named the Emergent Fund, this new resource is funded through a partnership between the Women Donors Network, Solidaire, Threshold Foundation, and the Democracy Alliance.

“This rapid-response model works to build up a new future in funding alternatives for communities facing injustice.” said Donna P. Hall, president and CEO of the Women Donors Network.  In particular, Hall noted in a press release about the new report, the Emergent Fund worked to defend those “belittled, criminalized and attacked during the presidential campaign – immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, Black people, LGBTQ communities, and all people of color.”

The new report helps to identify specific ways that philanthropists can change hierarchical systems of grantmaking and work expediently to   empower communities to create their own solutions to problems.

Some key takeaways from the report? One is simply that with more intentional communication and accelerated deadlines, grantmaking can be more strategic and expedient. Another key takeaway: redefining the funder’s role from “expert” to “curator” of relationships with community members working at the grass roots.

And which organizations are getting funding from the Emergent Fund? Organizations working to protect the most vulnerable among us. Here is a small sampling:

United We Dream: Working to protect undocumented youth from deportation, United We Dream is the “largest immigrant-led national community” with over 400,000 members.

It Takes Roots: It Takes Roots is a “national multiracial alliance” focused on  racial, housing and climate justice in both the US and Canada.

CAIR-CA: Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

Campaign for Southern Equality: The Campaign for Southern Equality promotes LGBTQ equality in the U.S. South.

Grassroots Asians Rising Alliance: This is an alliance of grassroots Asian organizations spanning the country, coming together to build “self-determination” for Asians in the U.S.

JOLT: Jolt is focused on issues impacting the Latino community in Texas.

Full list is here.

Full report is here.


How WDN Connects Women and Cultivates Progressive Giving

This Funder is Growing Quickly, and Giving Out Rapid-Response Grants to Fight Trump

Relationship-Building for Progressive Power: A Conversation with Leah Hunt-Hendrix

Editor’s Note: Women Donors Network is one of our spotlight organizations. 


Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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