Kathy Partridge, Executive Director
Based in the United States
Interfaith Funders (IF) is a network of faith-based and secular grantmakers committed to social change and economic justice. IF works to advance the field of institution-based community organizing (IBCO, also known as Congregation-based, Faith-based, and Broad-based) and to educate and activate IF members' constituencies.
Interfaith Funders began as a working group of the National Network of Grantmakers in 1997, evolving out of an ecumenical grant review board of the National Council of Churches. We came together to explore the intersection of faith and justice, in particular community organizing
|What Makes Us Different:|
We are secular and faith-based grantmakers breaking outside of our own silos. Our practice is based on relationships and recognition of the role of faith in peoples' lives.
Though the Occupy Movement has opened a dialogue around poverty and inequality, we continue to be troubled by the polarization of civil society in America. In addition, inaccurate portrayals of community organizing in the media continue to create a challenging climate for expanding support of organizing. The “instant” nature of the Occupy Movement and the growth of online and social media activism give an impression that social change work is now somehow easy. But we know that is not the case, that empowerment is actually achieved through base-building, leadership development, and long-term relationships.
Interfaith Funders has responded with a commitment to increase our efforts to educate and inform the philanthropic community and public about community organizing, using our website and communications, regionally held gatherings, and most significantly, our new State of Organizing project, as tools. We are now exploring how to expand our lens to including all faith based social justice work, and the role of spirituality in the social justice movement.
Collectively, IF member groups comprise an extensive pool of experience in identifying, funding, assisting, and evaluating community organizing groups. Individual IF members invest over $6 million annually in helping to establish and sustain over 180 congregation-based community organizations. As a funder affinity group, much of IF's power to unleash the sought-after impact comes through ability of member institutions to make (or decline) grants, through collective and shared knowledge, and especially through relationships.
Our table of conversation and initiative convenes seasoned grantmakers, as well as those new to the field, for understanding and effectively supporting this important arena of community change for the common good.
We hope that Giving Community participants will partner with us to promote community organizing for long-term solutions to societal problems and for ordinary people to become players in the public arena where decisions about people's lives are negotiated, in order to collectively craft real, lasting solutions to poverty and inequality.
We have create our State of Organizing project, and recently released our new report on organizing, "Building Bridges, Building Power: Developments in Institution-Based Community Organizing. Our consultations with funder colleagues showed an appetite for supporting community organizing, but revealed lingering misconceptions about the congregation-based model of organizing.
There is an unmet need for resourcing new organizations, especially those beyond the metropolitan core cities where many funders are based. We are hearing of cities asking for organizations to start working, but a lack of resources and personnel is limiting these prospects.It is our hope to use our Building Bridges Building Power report to address these and other concerns through better information on the trends and challenges of organizing.
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