Statement from SVP International about Global Philanthropy and Racial Justice

SVPI 06/02/2020

George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis (USA) police officers was not an isolated incidence of police brutality and the ensuing US protests are about far more than this one death. The protests of the last several days are the necessary – and righteous – rage of Black communities who have for too long now been left behind, beaten down, ignored, and killed. SVP stands in solidarity with Black communities and their calls for justice.

As a network made up of people practicing philanthropy around the world we acknowledge that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” (Martin Luther King Jr, Letter from Birmingham Jail). We saw this as the global pandemic impacted all of us: Partners, Investees, SVP staff and communities. It has magnified inequities in communities and around the world. Our global systems, including philanthropy, are too often exacerbating instead of solving issues of racial and economic injustice. 

For too long, philanthropy, even individual philanthropy, has stayed in a protective tower of generosity and feel-good work, funding that which is comfortable but not the work that gets to the root of our challenges. We recognize that individual SVP affiliate’s practices of multi-year general operating support grants, and technical support have been critical for improving lives and setting a new course for philanthropy. We are proud of that legacy but we are not satisfied with resting on our laurels when there is still so much injustice in our world.  

As a network that started in and has its largest base in the United States, it is our responsibility to lead by example and to practice justice-based philanthropy. The racial justice history of the US and Canada is unique in some ways, but the story of some people benefiting from many people suffering is a global story. Indeed, the wealth that is concentrated in the hands of just a few around the world operates with and came into existence due to the same power dynamics everywhere.  For a system to allow such huge economic inequalities, it also requires a global system that turns a blind eye to – and too often exacerbates – violence, poverty, environmental degradation and so much more. Our collective wealth and power is complicit if we stay silent. 

Today SVP International is recommitting to and accelerating our work to tackle problems at their root, reimagine systems, find and fund solutions that are regional, national, and global in scale and to trust and fund movement leaders who are closest to the problems and the solutions. We recommit to the power of collective action and the critical importance of engaging people with wealth in coming together to dismantle unjust economic systems so we can have a world where all communities thrive. 

We grieve. We come together. And together we choose solidarity to build a more just future.


Resources to give to Minnesota based racial justice organizations, recommended by allies on the ground: 

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