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Interview with Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace

Posted By WINGS, Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012

Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace got its start in 2007, when Christopher Harris, then Senior Program Officer for Philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, convened a small group of practitioners and advocates to reflect on the meaning, practice and impact of philanthropy for social justice and peace. In this interview with WINGS, the Working Group on PSJP shares the network's strategy and key accomplishments.

WINGS: Tell us about PSJP.

PSJP: The PSJP Network is a global support community of Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace practitioners that allows for individuals and foundations to connect and occasionally work together. The Network represents a fluid, flexible, inclusive community that’s informed by the local and changing contexts of different regions.

We believe that without a social justice and peace lens, the role that philanthropy plays in addressing the root-causes and mechanisms that perpetuate injustices and conflict will be limited, and we will continue to face the same types of issues, within unchanged contexts.

In order to promote and improve the practice of philanthropy for social justice and peace we need information, knowledge and tools. Who do we turn to for these? Where are our peers? Who do we learn from? Where do we share our lessons? What special concerns are related to work on peace-building? How do we get others to understand that our practice is good practice? How do we mobilise more resources for social justice and peace? How do we build this field globally?

Through a network that connects PSJP practitioners, this platform looks for answers to these questions.

WINGS: How does PSJP define philanthropy for social justice and peace?

PSJP: Effective philanthropy for social justice and peace (PSJP) aims to address the injustices in a society that underlie social, economic, and/or political inequalities. Rather than focus on the effects of unjust systems and contexts, social justice and peace grant making attempts to undo the mechanisms that drive them.

WINGS: How does PSJP structure its work?

PSJP: Our network is a global community of practice, based on the needs and interests of PSJP practitioners. We are not an organisation but a network, with enough structure to be effective and no more. Currently we use the following approaches to deepen and broaden the practice of PSJP:

  1. Organic regional groupings: Facilitating regional/continental groupings of PSJP practitioners (foundations and individuals) to develop the agenda for advancing the practice of PSJP within the regions in which they work.
  2. Deepening the PSJP lens in existing networks and communities: Supporting a social justice and peace building lens in existing regional and thematic philanthropy networks/ associations/groupings/communities to deepen reflection on and broaden the practice of PSJP.
  3. Connecting hubs: Mapping overlaps and facilitating connections across existing networks and regional groupings for reflection, learning, and sharing at a global level.
  4. Virtual communities: Further developing a web presence to share what different communities/networks (regional and thematic) are working on; sharing tools, knowledge, and experiences.
  5. Building a PSJP resource base: Aggregating all of the resources used by social justice funders and those working on peace around the world, in order to strengthen the practice globally.

WINGS: What challenges and triumphs have you experienced in the last 5 years? What does PSJP have planned for the future?

PSJP: The Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace has accomplished a number of key things, among them:

  • A gathering of practitioners from around the world in Cairo in February 2009 to move the work forward
  • Creation of a number of key resources about philanthropy for social justice and peace, like the framework for understanding the work, a piece describing the values and practices that are important for good social justice grantmaking, and a review of the evaluation frameworks available for social justice philanthropy.
  • Development of a knowledge base for gathering information about effective grantmaking strategies and practices, impact evaluation tools, definitions of social justice philanthropy and peace grantmaking, and general social justice philanthropy knowledge. Also, the website carries announcements of breaking news and job openings in the field, and allows practitioners to request help from one another.
  • Surveys of practitioners about grantmaking practice in a wide variety of contexts. In the future, we will be working with others to make these data sets widely available.
  • Development of a small, supportive, global community of practice with key members from most regions of the world. These members work to improve the practice of PSJP and to bring a social justice and peace-building approach in their regional and local philanthropic networks, and connect with other practitioners who can use the support of a global network, and
  • Sessions and tracks of sessions at regional conferences about the practice of philanthropy for social justice and peace

In the immediate future we are working to:

  • Help support emerging regional communities of practice and connect them as desired within a global network
  • Develop and share tools and practices to advance this field of work, and
  • Support a vibrant global community of practice that collectively works to shift the narrative in philanthropy to place social justice and peace at the center.

WINGS: Describe a typical PSJP member. Who can join and how?

PSJP: Any foundation or individual working in philanthropy who wants to bring or strengthen a social justice and peace-building approach and/or help improve the practice of PSJP and help change the discourse and direction of mainstream organised philanthropy to one that puts social justice and peace at its core, is welcome to join the community of practice.

Members of the Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace are:

  • Akwasi Aidoo, Trust Africa (Dakar, Senegal)
  • Ana Criquillion, Central American Women's Fund (San Francisco, US)
  • Emilienne Aulina de Leon, International Network of Women's Funds (Mexico City, Mexico)
  • Christopher Harris, formerly of Ford Foundation (Philadelphia, US)
  • Lisa Jordan, Bernard van Leer Foundation (The Hague, The Netherlands)
  • Avila Kilmurray, Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
  • Barry Knight, CENTRIS (Newcastle, UK)
  • Atallah Kuttab, SAANED (Amman, Jordan)
  • Halima Mahommed, Independent Philanthropy Consultant (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Stephen Pittam, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (York, UK)
  • Albert Ruesga, Greater New Orleans Foundation (New Orleans, US)
  • Suzanne Siskel, Asia Foundation (San Francisco, US)
  • Linda Guinee, Working Group Coordinator, Interaction Institute for Social Change (Boston, US)
  • Chandrika Sahai, Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace Network Coordinator (Jaipur, India)

To join the community, individuals and foundations can register here or send an email to: Chandrika Sahai (PSJP Network Coordinator) at or to Linda Guinee (PSJP Working Group Coordinator) at They can also contact us on Twitter @PSJPNetwork and/or follow us on Facebook.

Tags:  interview  PSJP 

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