Five Takeaways from Memphis Music Initiative's "Disruptive Approach"
Memphis Music Initiative (MMI) takes pride in its "disruptive philanthropy," a practice of "conscious giving" and a model that starts "with the understanding that institutional and structural racism shapes (arts) funding and produces inequities in resources and opportunities."
In a post on Philanthropy News Digest, Kiesha Davis, director of grantmaking and capacity building at MMI, summarizes five of the lessons of their work that inform their approach:
- "Philanthropic work isn't about showing how smart you are; it's about empowering and liberating people."
- "Be prepared to take a lot of heat when you start to talk about moving money and shifting power. It's a zero-sum game."
- "Relationships are the new grant application." (..) "By meeting organizations where they are and dispensing with the trappings of traditional grantmaking, we hope to make it easier for our partners to focus on their missions and efforts to engage youth of color."
- "Impatience and comfort zones are enemies of impact: disrupting established patterns of philanthropy requires focusing on long-term results and reexamining one's relationship with the words 'data' and 'evaluation'."
- "Stop centering whiteness in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. This means shifting away from prioritizing the perspective of any group — including gender, sexual orientation, or class —that traditionally has had the upper hand in philanthropic power dynamics."
Read GIA's post on the Memphis Music Initiative's Toward the Future of Arts Philanthropy study.