Philanthropy California Supports Call for Vigilance against Funding of Islamophobia and Bigotry

This week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a report documenting over a billion dollars directed from philanthropy to anti-Muslim hate groups between 2014 and 2016, the most recent period for which publicly accessible data is available. The report is directed to mainstream philanthropy and provides a map for foundations to identify whether their funding directly or indirectly supports anti-Muslim advocacy groups. As NPR reports, CAIR is calling upon the sector for more accountability and oversight. 

Philanthropy California—an alliance of Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers, and Southern California Grantmakers—and our foundation members are paying careful attention to the findings of this important report as a tool to encourage our field to redouble efforts to align funding review processes with the mission to achieve social good. 

In their research, CAIR documents the social, political, economic, legal, and personal effects of Islamophobia. In an example from 2018, Jacob Letourneau-Elsharkawy, a Minnesota high school freshman, endured attacks from classmates which landed him repeatedly in the hospital with concussions and broken bones. When school administrators did not effectively address the months of abuse, Jacob took his own life. 

The report features a clear call to action for donor advised funds, faith-based donor advised funds, and family foundations whose funding—in many cases unwittingly—has supported organizations stoking hate-based rhetoric: we can, and must, do better. 

Among the report’s recommendations for philanthropy, members may: 

  • Conduct an audit of grantmaking procedures to determine whether your institution intentionally or unintentionally supported the Islamophobia Network. 
  • Implement policies and procedures to ensure that funds are not diverted to hate groups. 
  • Implement policies and procedures to ensure that the programs and activities of your grantees align with your donor interests, stakeholder values, and the public good.  

Philanthropy California recognizes that our society is facing the threat of bigotry and, now more than ever, our diverse communities are vulnerable to injustice. We will continue to support educational initiatives and provide resources for philanthropy to divest funding from hate groups. And we will do so in partnership with our members and the communities of which we are a part.  

Together we have a shared responsibility to be vigilant that all people are respected and no one is singled out based on their race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.


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