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Six Blind Men and One Elephant: Proposing an Integrative Framework to Advance Research and Practice in Justice Philanthropy

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There are growing calls that philanthropic foundations across the globe can and should advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Initial evidence indicates that foundations have indeed responded as evidenced by pledges to change practice, increased funding for racial justice, and the emergence of new networks to support equity and justice. However, there is also great skepticism about whether the field of foundations are, in fact, able to make lasting changes given numerous critiques of philanthropy and its structural limitations. In this article, we summarize these critiques that suggest factors that make institutional philanthropy resistant to calls for equity and justice. We posit that a core obstacle is a lack of conceptual coherence within and across academic and practitioner literature about the meanings of terms and their implications for practice. Therefore, we propose a transdisciplinary conceptual framework of justice philanthropy that integrates the fragmented literature on justice-related aspects of philanthropy emerging from different disciplinary traditions such as ethics, political theory and political science, social movement theory, geography, public administration, and community development.

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