Social justice is based on the values of human rights and equity. It describes a society which gives individuals and groups fair treatment and a fair share of the benefits of society.
Social inclusion is about ensuring that the marginalised and less powerful in society have significant participation in decision making which affects their lives, and access to economic resources, educational opportunities, social networks and support, services etc. The social exclusion of some reduces social cohesion, and has impacts on the well-being of all.
Social justice philanthropy, sometimes defined as “philanthropy which aims to change the circumstances that give rise to the need for philanthropy”, includes supporting work towards “structural change in order to increase the opportunity of those who are least well off politically, economically, and socially.”
Structural changes can include the strengthening of civil society generally; improving access to services where marginalised groups have worse access than others; and addressing social structures that preserve unequal power relationships, limiting the ability of marginalised groups to participate in decision-making processes that affect them. The Trust will only consider approaches that comply with the law.
We certainly don’t believe we can make this happen on our own! We recognise that many others have similar goals, and want to work together with them where possible.
We have an emphasis on long term change – working with the aim of reducing the need for health and social services over time.
Social outcomes refer to a broad range of economic, health and social indicators such as rates of employment, mortality, educational achievement, offending and victimisation, good or bad health, access to services etc. Disparities refer to the differences in indicators among different groups in society.
This includes both (a) the extent to which various organisations – community groups, local and central government agencies – engage with their communities of interest and clients in their planning, policy-making, governance etc, and (b) the extent to which service users and communities take part, and believe that their input is significant. Opportunities for taking part need to be accessible and culturally relevant.
When people know their neighbours and look out for them, neighbourhoods and indeed households are likely to be safer and more supportive in tough times. Communities working together are also better able to achieve their aspirations and address issues of common concern. The evidence suggests that efforts to promote social inclusion and reduce marginalisation are more effective when they are “owned and operated” by local communities.
A society in which social groups not only tolerate one another, but respect their differences and positively value the variety of contributions each brings, will be more inclusive. This sign includes, firstly, recognition of the particular place of Tangata Whenua in Aotearoa New Zealand. We are also concerned with how people from minority groups are marginalised by stigma, prejudice and discrimination.
The more effective that social service, health and other community programmes are, the more they are likely to make a positive difference in people’s lives, despite the complex, multiple factors that contribute to exclusion and inequality. Ways to increase the effectiveness of programmes include: increasing the involvement of the target groups in design and leadership; the thoughtful trial of new approaches; and the spreading of good practices.
Māori progress is most likely to be effective when “owned and operated” by Māori community structures. As Treaty settlements are made, Māori-led advancement is accelerating; yet many have still to benefit. An increasing proportion of Māori living successfully in all realms of their lives, while proudly embracing their legacy and identity, is a positive indicator of a more just society.
“Improved capacity” is when iwi/hapū and communities are able to express their dreams, bring people together, gain access to and use resources (both their own, and from the wider society), and address issues of concern. People are included and connected, diversity is valued, and people can succeed on their own terms.
Often only governments, through their policies and programmes, have the clout to address the underlying causes of deep-seated social inequalities and disadvantage. Systemic and structural change can occur at this level, and can make a real difference for those most disadvantaged or marginalised in our society.
By this we mean strengthening the capacity of both communities and community organisations. This may involve community organising and community development, as well as operating community programmes. It is not limited to, but includes, activities that build and develop:
We don’t presume to define “Māori development”, but we have a strong preference for Māori-led development for Māori. This includes the full range of activities in the other boxes in this Row. Activities are likely to:
An important role for community organisations, and for which funding sources are few, is to “add voice” to the people for whom they work, whose ability to influence systems that affect them is often limited. The Trust’s vision is of an Aotearoa New Zealand where there is less need for social service agencies. In some fields this could require changes to public policies and services, and the ways in which communities function.
The majority of the Trust’s financial resources goes in grants towards the work of community organisations. See the above description of What we want to fund (Row 4) for more detail. We look to support this work in other ways where we can. On occasions we may also establish funding programmes with a specific focus; and initiate, or respond to, joint funding arrangements.
Independent funders are well placed to act as convenors between sectors and groups, including the less powerful; we have (hopefully) the reputation and independence to be an “honest broker”, the networks to reach people, and the resources to cover costs. As well as encouraging cross-sectoral linkages, it can also be useful to bring together similar groups (whether they are funded by the Trust or not) to learn from each other and explore possibilities for working together. We also work with others when we do not have a brokering or leading role.
Whether you work for a service provider, community development organisation or philanthropist, there is much more value in learning from one’s attempts to make a difference than not. “Proving” the worth of approaches in the complex area of social issues may be difficult, but we can still learn, improve and celebrate. We aim to learn from our own and others’ experience, and share what we learn; and encourage others to do the same.
As well as supporting other groups to advocate or otherwise influence public policy, on occasions the Trust may be in a good position to take a more active role. Our preferred approach is to seek and include the views of people and groups directly affected, assemble evidence, and act as a non-partisan, low profile broker. There may also be a role for the Trust to speak up on behalf of those it funds or the interests of the philanthropic sector.