Responding to the #MeToo Movement, an update to Funders & Power

Jewish Funders Network (JFN) has released an update to their 2016 document Funders and Power: Principles for Honorable Conduct in Philanthropy. The new language declares funders’ responsibilities to “ensure the personal safety, dignity, and equality of all people.” They made the revision following conversations sparked by the #MeToo movement.

Whats new

The new section reads:

8. Ensure the personal safety, dignity, and equality of all people

Jewish tradition insists on kevod habriyot – human dignity. All people have a right to personal safety and to a respectful recognition of their inherent equality. That principle should govern not only the outcomes of programs funded but also the day-to-day interactions of Jewish philanthropic work and life.

Because of structural power imbalances, funders have a high level of responsibility for upholding human dignity. We must not take the personal safety and equal treatment of those around us for granted in any setting. Rather, funders should actively and openly seek to make their operations, and their grantees’ operations, absolutely free of sexism, racism, religious and cultural discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, and every other kind of personal hostility or unequal treatment.

Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault have been revealed to be a particularly widespread set of problems, and funders must not engage in, empower, excuse, or ignore these behaviors.

Funders should work with their staffs, grantees, and wider communities to create systems to actively monitor for all forms of abuse and discrimination, maintaining accountability in all directions – including systems that will hold funders themselves accountable for their own personal behavior and for the policies affecting their employees’ behavior.

About the document

Funders and Power is a set of guiding principles created by Jewish Funders Network, covering philanthropists’ conduct with their grantees, other funders, their staffs, and the broader communities of which they are a part. The original version of the document was approved by JFN’s Board and released in September 2016.

The document emerged from conversations among JFN board members lamenting the polarization and incivility that had taken hold in Jewish communal discourse. But the guidelines produced in drafting the document extended beyond questions of civility to incorporate honorable conduct more broadly.

One prominent theme of the document is the power imbalance existing between funders and other players. Funders must be aware of the effects of their power, including both the disproportionate good and the disproportionate harm they may do to others, and including effects they do not intend. Funders should also be aware of the disadvantages they face themselves as a result of their own power, such as a tendency to lack opportunities for honest, critical feedback.

We use the document to inform events and convenings, and JFN staff and members often refer to its principles in conversations about a wide range of Jewish philanthropic issues.

The document’s eight principles (including the addition for this January 2018 revision) are:

  • Take covenantal responsibility
  • Treat grantees as partners
  • Consider the entire community
  • Consider and honor diverse viewpoints
  • Be ethically consistent
  • Build reflection into the process
  • Fund positive change, not hostility
  • Ensure the personal safety, dignity, and equality of all people

The full document describes each principle more fully.