Social Change Funds Face Challenges

According to a new report funded by the Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund, progressive social change funds must clarify their missions and communicate their unique value to potential donors in order to survive in today's competitive marketplace environment.

"Progressive Social Change Funds: Strategies for Survival," by Felice Davidson Perlmutter and Vicki W. Kramer, examined thirty-eight member funds of four national social change groups: the Funding Exchange Network, the National Alliance for Choice in Giving, the National Black United Fund, and the Women's Funding Network. The funds examined by the study all seek to empower marginalized populations, challenge social inequities, and support self-help.

The results of Perlmutter and Kramer's analyses suggests that to "survive and thrive" in the current environment, fund leaders must recognize and retain what makes them distinctive; decide what aspects of their structure and mission can be changed; pass on their knowledge to new board and staff members; and articulate those elements to potential donors.

The report also urges the funds to maximize the role of their national organizations and to collaborate with other social change funds locally to make the public and the funding community aware of their impact and value.

"Social Change Funds Face Survival Challenges" Temple University Press Release 03/29/2001.