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When the Movement Calls, Will We Hear It?

Thursday, February 16, 2017
By Chris Punongbayan
Director, Equity and Social Justice
Northern California Grantmakers

I recently took the BART to San Francisco International Airport, but I wasn’t trying to catch a plane. I went to join the thousands of people who protested at airports around the country in response to the president’s executive action banning Muslims and refugees. Signs declared “This Land Was Made for You and Me.” People chanted, “No Hate, No Fear, Immigrants are Welcome Here.” I was blown away by the crowd who had assembled and the palpable feeling of collective power we held.

At about 6pm on that Saturday night, there was an announcement made on a bullhorn that a federal judge in New York issued a stay, effectively halting the president’s executive action. The case was brought and won by the American Civil Liberties Union. I later read that the ACLU received $24 million dollars in donations over the course of the weekend. I was so heartened to hear that the outpouring happened, but it also got me thinking about the organizations that do not have the same name brand power and the essential role that they also played in protecting America’s democracy.

At the protest, I saw community organizers, lawyers, and many other unsung heroes who are staff of local social justice organizations. Many of these groups are neighborhood-based, faith-based, or identity-based. They may have just a handful of staff. They struggle to stay open as the cost of doing business in the San Francisco Bay Area continually increases. These organizations are small, but mighty. And to meet increased demand, they need even more support.

2017 is the time to rethink philanthropy. It’s a time to invest in social movements, and one way to do so is to support the incredible non-profit organizations that catalyze us to action. It is a time to dig even deeper into our tremendous Bay Area wealth for the common good. The movement is calling and needs you now!

I hope you’ll join with the region’s thinkers and doers this April 17 when we come together for bigger commitments stronger alliances and bolder action at our 2017 Annual Conference | Bigger. Bolder. Stronger.