Evaluating Trends to Increased Advocacy for Social Justice

Jude McCann, Emerging Leader, International Fellows Program ~ 2011




This paper considers how community foundations can better serve as advocates for marginalized and underrepresented groups of people. At stake is whether community foundations will be able to address the root causes of social problems or merely deal with symptoms. Jude McCann argues that by adopting the role of social advocate, community foundations can shape the way resources are allocated within society. In practice, social advocacy would manifest itself in activities like lobbying, voter registration, and community organizing.


McCann examines how three community foundations have retooled their operations towards social advocacy. These case studies include the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Long Island Community Foundation in New York, and the Hamilton Community Foundation in Canada. From his case studies, McCann draws recommendations for community foundations. These recommendations include the adoption of social justice rhetoric, dialogue with neighborhoods and communities being serviced by foundations, and a restructured communication strategy to reassure donors and board members of the advantages of a social advocacy model. McCann also argues that community foundation members should be briefed about the legality of social advocacy, since foundations often misinterpret laws to mean that community foundations are not allowed to engage in social advocacy.


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