An Indigenous-philanthropic partnership that didn't work, and what we can learn from it

February 12, 2018

Most of the time we share the success stories in philanthropy, not the failures. Yet mistakes are great teachers. In my ongoing exploration of what makes good partnership, and how philanthropy can support communities that have experienced marginalization, I was intrigued to come across a written account of a partnership breakdown between one foundation and several Indigenous-led organizations in the northwest Unites States.

The experience of urban Native American organizations with the Northwest Area Foundation was publicly documented and debated, via parallel articles in the journal Responsive Philanthropy (Maher 2006; Stauber 2006) and later summarized in a review of the foundation’s work (FSG 2011). My article on the case and the learning recently appeared on the blog of PhiLab, the Canadian Research Partnership on Philanthropy.


The article briefly presents the case and explores three areas that can support or pose challenges in Indigenous-philanthropic partnerships: fundamental values and approach to giving; quality of relationships; and use of power.



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