Money. It’s Also the Root of Good.

While nonprofit, movement, and foundation leaders may have different approaches, we’re all driving – in some way or another – toward building a healthier and more equitable society. And there’s one thing we all need to do that. Money.

Sponsored by ActBlue, our July 27 Upswell Pop-Up “Let’s Talk About Money,” explored various aspects of, well, money – including being more intentional about what we do with it, how we use it, how digital fundraising can help us achieve our goals, and how reparative-focused funding can help us heal, restore, repair, and rebuild communities that have suffered the crushing weight of systemic racism. We also took time to consider how to use healing strategies to examine our lives through a healthy lens and bring our personal and professional selves into balance.

Main Stage: Will Reparations Close the Racial Wealth Gap?

To address the need for systemic change to achieve racial justice and liberation in our country, some funders are now employing a reparations strategy that acknowledges the impact of historical racism and focuses on restoring what was taken from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

This Main Stage considered the hot-button topic of reparations and what is needed to restore, repair, and rebuild communities. Speakers discussed their roles in shaping reparations- and reparative-focused philanthropic funding models intended to increase wealth in Black and Native communities. They also addressed advocating for reparations-focused policy to repair generational harm done to Black people by government or corporations – and what is needed to move the entire sector in this direction.

Featured Speakers:

  • Edgar Villanueva, Principal, Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital
  • Jennifer Reedy, President, Bush Foundation
  • Janaé Bonsu, Senior Research Associate, National Black Women’s Justice Institute

Key Takeaways:

  • Poverty is the product of public policy and theft facilitated by white supremacy.
  • When we talk about this, we’re not just talking about what was done hundreds of years ago, but the accumulated disadvantage we have to atone for.
  • We (Bush Foundation) do work related to racial justice because we believe it is the most important thing for us to be doing to fulfill the intent of Archie Bush.”
  • Anything you are reading nationally about racial wealth gaps usually does not include Native Americans.
  • While the reparation conversation in the United States stems from chattel slavery, the vestiges and policies continue to impact Black people in this country.
  • Wealth is one of the most critical determinants of life outcomes. You can tie wealth to everything.
  • Past policies that were transformational in increasing wealth did so for white people, but not for Black people and Native Americans.
  • We have to be really, really honest about the critiques of philanthropy. We have to be open about how to do things differently.
  • The approach we take to reparations should be determined by the harmed parties and what is needed to make them whole.
  • We have inherited this history that we must do something about. Philanthropy must demonstrate leadership.
  • We must use money as healing for those impacted by historic racism.


Digital Fundraising Tools for People-Powered Movements

The people-powered movements that emerged in 2020 around the pandemic, anti-Black systemic racism, voting rights, and social justice were people-powered movements that didn’t necessarily rely on big-money donations and mega-donors. This session, hosted by ActBlue, sponsor of this Upswell Pop-Up, showed how to use accessible, online tools to build and run a flexible, inexpensive, and empowering digital fundraising program to reach your organizing and movement goals.

Featured Speakers:

  • Anna Finklestein, Movement, Issue, and Charitable Organizations (MICO) Manager, ActBlue
  • Dan Michaels, Movement, Issue, and Charitable Organizations (MICO) Associate, ActBlue

Key Takeaways:

  • Small-dollar donors build people-powered movements. They’re the ones who show up to answer your calls, attend protests, and sign petitions. They make donations and these small dollars add up.
  • Digital fundraising helps to build and run a flexible, inexpensive, and empowering program that brings in funding and dedicated supporters.
  • Fundraising by email still drives the vast majority of contributions and should motivate people to action.
  • It’s important in fundraising messaging to use empowering and inclusive language and to make people feel that they are part of something bigger.

Early Learnings from the Community-Centric Fundraising Movement

The turmoil of the past 16 months has forced us to open our eyes to the unequal realities of our country and reimagine how intentional fundraising can help us better serve our communities. During this session we took a look at Community-Centric Fundraising, a movement pushing us to re-evaluate our modern-day fundraising practice and philosophy, and to shape a new strategy that views fundraising through a systems lens that reflects social and economic justice.

Featured Speakers:

  • Rachel D’Souza-Siebert, MPPA, Founder & Principal, Gladiator Consulting
  • David Dwight IV, Executive Director and Lead Strategy Catalyst, Forward Through Ferguson
  • LadyAshley Gregory, Director of Community Partnerships, Forward Ferguson

Key Takeaways:

  • Fundraising has to be grounded in racial analysis, racial equity, and social justice.
  • We need to move away from the notion that the donor is always centered and bought into the mission.
  • How do we move wealth from organizations that have it to organizations actually doing racially equity work?
  • Who are you doing this work for? How can you decenter yourself and center those folks and their needs?
  • We need balance. Lived experience and contributions of time to marginalized communities must be valued as equally as contributions of money.
  • For executive directors, think about the education that needs to occur across the organization. Invest in building awareness for your staff, supporters, and board.
  • Find your people and build your squad – that network of people who share your mindset and will be there for you when community-centered fundraising gets hard.

Integrating Healing Strategies into the Community and Workplace

How do we achieve healing and balance in our lives? This session offered tools to help us “let go” of things that are negatively impacting wellness in our homes, communities, and workplaces in our quest to become whole. “Where there has been trauma, healing is the answer.”

Featured Speaker:

  • Jillene Joseph, Executive Director, Native Wellness Institute

Key Takeaways:

  • Healing is about letting go and becoming whole. We heal in different ways, including letting go of mental, emotional, and spiritual pain. What works for one person may not work for another.
  • A common thread among Native communities is how they have been impacted by colonization, including genocide and forced assimilation camps that were often called boarding or residential schools – and how that unresolved hurt, pain, and need for healing continues to play out today.
  • Healthy risk is doing something you don’t normally do, stepping out of your comfort zone, or doing something to support your personal or professional growth and development.
  • When we look at things through a healthy lens, our whole world can change.
  • There’s going to be sorrow and sadness, and so we have to intentionally look for the joy. That’s what helps bring us into balance.
  • “Gratitude can change your attitude.”
Types: Blog
Global Topics: Infrastructure, Leadership Development, Nonprofit Health, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Upswell