5 Ways Foundations And Wealthy Donors Can Combat The Trump Agenda

Groups and individuals are beginning to organize against the most damaging aspects of Trump's politics. A resistance is forming, and it needs and deserves the support of our nation's foundations and wealthy donors.
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Donald Trump's election as the next U.S. president represents the victory of a reactionary, hard-right agenda that threatens to overturn decades of progress on important social and environmental issues. But groups and individuals are beginning to organize against the most damaging aspects of Trump's politics. A resistance is forming, and it needs and deserves the support of our nation's foundations and wealthy donors.

Here are five ways people who control substantial financial resources can be partners in combating the Trump agenda.

1.Invest in a broad-based resistance.

Donors need to make sure that the ecosystem of organizations making up the resistance have the resources to win. These groups range from scrappy grassroots organizations, including those that don't have 501(c)3 status, to larger, more sophisticated groups.

An effective resistance will require strong, healthy nonprofit organizations of varying sizes across the country, not just in a few targeted states. To be effective, these groups will most certainly use a variety of strategies and tactics. Some will protest, others will press their case in the courts, and still others will push for change through local and state legislative bodies.

These investments can't wait. Donors need to get money out the door quickly so groups can push back strongly even before President-elect Trump takes office.

Donors also shouldn't tie the hands of these organizations by putting unnecessary conditions on grants and gifts. Instead, the smarter approach is to give flexible support that will help the resistance be nimble and responsive to opportunities and changing circumstances.

George Soros and his Open Society Foundations is leading the way with a $10 million pledge to fight hate crimes. Other donors need to step up, too.

2.Use reputational capital to protect and defend the most vulnerable.

Hate crimes and openly racist, xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric are on the rise. Those who have great wealth and privilege need to stand up and send a strong message that they won't tolerate discrimination or violence - not from individuals and not when backed by the power of the state.

Community foundations and other local funders can play an especially important role. When the Minneapolis Foundation recently joined with Somali organizations for "Sambusa Sunday," it made it clear that it values all members of the community and won't tolerate racism and islamophobia. Other community foundations could take similar actions to support those who are likely targets of oppression.

3.Fortify our nation's civic engagement infrastructure.

Nonprofit organizations play a vitally important role in our nation. Nearly 175 years ago, French sociologist and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville noted a uniquely American tendency towards banding together with fellow citizens and forming associations. Foundations and wealthy donors must invest consistently and robustly in this nonprofit civic infrastructure.

We need vibrant organizing groups in every community across the nation - groups that bring diverse residents together to find common ground and to hold officials accountable. We need swarms of nonprofit staff and volunteers that are registering voters, educating them on important issues, and increasing turnout among populations least likely to show up at the polls. We need strong organizations training new candidates to run for local and state office, especially from historically underrepresented populations.

These groups need steady funding year in and year out, not just an influx of cash during elections.

4.Collaborate with other donors who share your values.

No donor, no matter how wealthy, can do this alone. We'll go farther when we support and encourage each other, and hold one another accountable.

Donors and foundations can look to the Democracy Alliance, Solidaire, Women Donors Network, Neighborhood Funders Group, Grantmakers in Health, Funders Committee for Civic Participation, Resource Generation and many other groups for the thought leadership and community-building that will be needed to sustain us.

5.Lead with love

As the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

The way forward is through love of humankind - the bedrock definition of philanthropy. Our nation needs foundations and wealthy individuals to be part of the resistance. It's time to get busy.

Aaron Dorfman is president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Follow @ncrp on Twitter.

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