Giving Gets Local, Part III: Achieving Scale
November 12, 2020
2020 may almost be over, but the challenges and pain this year has illuminated for millions of Americans will persist long after the clock strikes midnight on New Years’ eve. With nearly a quarter-million Americans dead at the hands of a pandemic unprecedented in modern times, and millions more struggling to put food on the table, America's problems won’t simply disappear as the year expires. To combat these challenges and extend a more tightly woven lifeline to those in need, we’ll need to rethink the way we approach philanthropy and social service provision.
The first two installments in this series have looked at community-based philanthropic organizations. These groups are profoundly rooted in the communities they serve and marshal their resources to impact their neighbors. Unlike larger philanthropic organizations, local groups take more finely targeted and long-term approaches to solving local dilemmas impacting hard-working American families. From tackling a lack of learning materials at local schools or insufficient green space to building memorials to fallen local troops, these organizations are deeply embedded into our civic culture and help fill in the gaps that, while often indelibly impactful, large organizations and institutions miss.
The question, though, is whether this model can be scaled. How can organizations whose approach is to leverage connections to develop solutions in the communities in which they are located be scaled to, well, solve problems across a city, county, or state as a whole? Does scale inherently contradict the ethos of community philanthropy?
The answer, as evidenced by the All in Washington Initiative, is no. Launched in May 2020, All in Washington is a coalition of public officials, private sector firms, philanthropic organizations, community leaders, frontline nonprofits, and local stakeholders held together by a common desire to provide immediate and critical emergency support to the workers and families in Washington state most affected by COVID-19.
All in Washington has worked to marry corporate philanthropy, replete with resources, to local organizational action, which has a deep knowledge of local challenges and institutions. The initiative features major corporations like Amazon and Microsoft, both headquartered within the state, and groups offering community perspectives, like local workers, families, and individuals directly affected by the pandemic. In the month of June alone, All in Washington raised $55 million to aid local causes.
All in Washington is facilitating donations to cause funds, including digital equity, food security, children in crisis, small business support, undocumented families, youth homelessness, and community foundations statewide, according to its website.
In September, All in Washington launched its Digital Equity Initiative to help bridge the digital divide and support academic achievement by quickly providing students with access to devices and hardware, Wi-Fi hotspots, and tech support. All in Washington worked with Seattle Foundation to launch Black Future Co-Op Fund, a first-of-its-kind program to support the black community in Washington state.
All in Washington has proven adept at leveraging large-scale resources to solve local challenges. By utilizing large corporations for support and connections, while liaising with community-based organizations to design local programs and issue responses, All in Washington has combined the most effective attributes of large-scale and local philanthropy into an effective vehicle for redressing COVID-borne challenges in communities across the Evergreen State.
The Amit Raizada Foundation shares community philanthropy’s commitment to catalyzing lasting social changes in the communities overburdened with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. As this situation persists into the new year, it will be critical for philanthropic organizations, big and small, to focus on the challenges being faced by everyday Americans in their communities. It is critical we utilize the example set by these organizations to improve life across our country.
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Amit Raizada is a forward-thinking entrepreneur and investor whose mastery of investment and growth strategies has helped launch and grow countless successful business ventures across the globe. In 2002, Raizada founded Spectrum Business Ventures which today consists of more than 80 operating companies spanning multiple industries including technology, entertainment, real estate, financial services, hospitality, retail, eSports, fashion and others. Raizada is a lifelong philanthropist with a devout passion for giving back to the community, and in 2017 cofounded Vision Global Foundation, which supports charitable causes around the globe that focus on children and families in need. For more information about Amit Raizada please visit his bio page.