Now might be a particularly good time to approach foundations and other philanthropists. We all know about the incredible work that the Public Welfare Foundation has done to support access to justice. (Disclosure: including by helping me.)
Now, President Mary McClymont has an opinion piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy on Philanthropy Must Step Up for Fairness in Civil Justice.
The good news is that the resource crisis in civil legal aid has led to an array of innovations to help serve more people, including new approaches like licensed legal technicians (people who have legal training but are not lawyers), self-help services, automated standardized forms, and technology tools. The Public Welfare Foundation has tried to do its part to foster such innovations. And while these creative new approaches have drawn some welcome attention, they need greater and more sustained financial backing . . . Philanthropy is uniquely suited to help meet this need by catalyzing innovations and supporting proven efforts to offer more and better service.
At the same time, philanthropy can also benefit by embracing civil legal aid as part of its tool kit to advance housing, education, economic security, and other causes central to fairness and prosperity in our nation. Foundations have started to hear the call to action on criminal justice and have stepped up. Now, we must do the same to advance needed reforms in civil justice.
The Chronicle is simply the go to place for funders, so far more people in that world right now know what we are up to. So a perfect time to reach out and make the reference and connection. And, of course, the Resolution and follow-up strategy process, makes this a particular moment of opportunity for leverage for any funder.
Hi, Richard, yes, it seems like there are some signs of interest among philanthropic institutions on A2J issues, and I hope to have an announcement on that score soon. I’m interested in your view on the following thought (I’m not sure I what I think about it myself):
Generally (there are always exceptions), philanthropic institutions cannot be viewed as funding sources for A2J programmatic expenses. Such institutions do not have the year-over-year resources, and almost all are searching for something new, or for a catalyst, or for a change. And then, such institutions want to move on; they lack the interest in a decade-long or longer commitment to a particular area. Instead, such institutions should be thought of as places to go for funding to create and test innovations, or to move into previously underserved areas and communities. But thinking of philanthropic institutions as sources of program funding will lead to frustration and soured relationships on both sides.