The focus of people who work in philanthropy shifts in mysterious ways. Our attention spans are notoriously short. We might care about income inequality, for example, and see the issue come into sharp focus during the rise of the Occupy Movement. Weeks later, it’s old news. The same goes for topics such as the digital divide, social capital, collective impact – you name it. Areas of focus and styles of giving go in and out of fashion in philanthropy as quickly as couture changes on Paris runways.
All of this can leave the people who depend on foundation dollars, including social justice advocates, with a sense of powerlessness and anxiety, constantly scrambling to intuit and frame their work in the context of the next trend. And that can take a significant toll on their effectiveness.
Members of Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace (PSJP) – “a global network of philanthropy practitioners working to increase the impact of grantmaking for social justice and peace” – understand that research and communications are important tools for keeping philanthropy focused where it’s needed most. They also know that we need to learn more about what kinds of research and communications efforts make the most impact on the field.
PSJP has commissioned a study to deepen that understanding through consultation with a broad range of stakeholders including foundation staff, advocates, researchers, and beyond. The study, carried out by Daylight Consulting Group and the Center for Research and Innovation in Social Policy and Practice (CENTRIS), is gathering data through a short online survey and a series of in-depth interviews. The research questions include:
- What topics should receive more research focus?
- What kinds of data should be collected?
- What standards should guide how these data are collected and analyzed?
- What audiences should be prioritized?
- How should results be shared?
- Who should lead these research and communications efforts?
Please help advance the causes of social justice and peace by taking a few minutes to complete a brief survey, which can be accessed here, and contact the researchers at PSJPSurvey@daylightconsulting.net if you have additional input to share.