MRG Foundation was born out of an imperative to redistribute wealth and power to the communities most impacted by injustice. One could argue that donor-advised funds — which serve to give tax deductions to people of wealth and whose distributions are controlled by the donors themselves — are at odds with that imperative.
With new awareness around the importance of transferring wealth into these communities since COVID-19 arrived, we have seen movements like “Half My DAF” arise, pushing donor advisors to grant out at least 50% of their donor-advised fund in the immediate future. While this is a good first step, it does not go far enough–wealth needs to be moved into our communities, but without also moving decision-making power, the communities most impacted still do not have a say in their lives and futures.
For these reasons, MRG Foundation has redefined what donor-advised funds look like: we call them Donor-in-Movement Funds (DMFs).
Why a Donor-in-Movement Fund?
In this political moment, we need to operationalize our values for Justice into how we practice philanthropy. Our new Donor-In-Movement Funds provide a vehicle and opportunity to not only move money into frontline communities but also shift power in decision-making.
Philanthropy has struggled to find better and more efficient ways to get dollars to frontline communities, respond to threats to our communities, and ensure that our movements for organizing and justice are well resourced. We at MRG are embedded in the communities we serve, we are led by those communities, and we have worked for over four decades to advocate for more just policies and to shift the narrative in our body politic. We know that our current cultural, political, and economic systems are perfectly designed to achieve the results they are producing—and that is unacceptable.
Donor-in-Movement Funds also provide our donors a political home, and a place where we “ideate, practice and build futures we believe in, finding alignment with those we are in accountable relationships with, and growing that alignment through organizing and education…” – adrienne maree brown
While Donor-in-Movement Funds are not the entirety of the answer to how we can re-shape and re-envision the philanthropic landscape to best serve our communities, they are the next right thing we need to begin to transform philanthropy.
How Does It Work?
To set up a Donor-in-Movement Fund, the donor makes an initial donation to MRG. Once a year, the DMF distributes funds according to our 50/40/10 guidelines:
- 50% of distributable funds go to organizations selected by MRG’s activist-led Grantmaking Committee.
- 40% of distributable funds go to groups of the donor’s choosing that are aligned with MRG’s mission and values.
- 10% goes to MRG for operating costs.
Some donors may choose to fund their DMF with a one-time donation; others may opt for an initial set-up donation and then make ongoing annual donations after that—whichever works best for them.
Quarterly, each donor receives updates on their DMF balance, distributions, and a list of organizations, events, and issues that MRG’s activist-led Grantmaking Committee prepares for you as well as special events and organizational briefings.
Think that a donor-advised fund might make sense for you? Contact MRG Development Director Dena Zaldúa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-289-1517.