I was struck by this photo, in the article, Can Philanthropy Support the Transformation of Society?, by Peter and Jennifer Buffett at Transformation. When 85 people own half the world's assets, and when in the US alone there are over 1 million charities, Peter and Jennifer risk being inundated by begging letters and requests for funding of social justice organizations. Perhaps this is why Foundations were first created, to buffer funders like the Buffetts from endless direct appeals to their wallet, good will, and compassion.
I serve on the board of Interfaith Worker Justice. We recently called on fast food restaurants in support of Immokolee workers. For IWJ a major gift is $500. They do get funding from a few large foundations like Ford. But how can a worker organization staffed by those who have no money and who serve those with no money, create or tap into a coalition of moneyed donors with a social conscience? I have asked Tracy Gary this, she who has spent a lifetime trying to build bridges between the world of wealth and those very little. She says it is very difficult and verges on the impossible.
For Peter and Jennifer Buffett to talk directly to any one nonprofit is to get pulled in one direction, when so many organizations have a call on their attention and funds. Perhaps the biggest service the precious few progressive funders like Peter and Jennifer could perform is to simply reflect on the challenges of cross-class fundraising and give those in the trenches their advice on appropriate next steps from both sides of the wealth divide.