Alexandra I. Toma: Collaboration, Trust, and Equity Are Critical to Building Peace and Security
“Our second challenge is a more general observation about the field of philanthropy; it has to do with funders wanting to hoard power and control, rather than operate using trust-based principles. A lot of lip service can be paid to DEI in philanthropy, but those who are making meaningful changes in the right direction see how difficult, messy, and necessary this work is.”Alexandra I. Toma
Compton Foundation Board Secretary, Alexandra I. Toma, is also the Executive Director of the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG), a global community of funders working to build a more peaceful, just, and equitable world. In a recent interview with Supriya Kumar from Philanthropy News Digest, Alex spoke about the work that PSFG is doing to bring awareness and support to peacebuilding efforts around the world, including in the U.S. Below is an excerpt:
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SK: […] We know that peace and security funding receives less than 1 percent of total philanthropic funding globally. How have you seen funding for peace and security trend over the last few years?
AT: Overall funding for peace and security changes depending on how you define peace and security. Anecdotally, we’ve seen more funders who normally support peacebuilding efforts outside of the U.S. and Europe recognize that these same peacebuilding efforts are now needed “at home.” Polarization, violence prevention, militarism, the erosion of democracy, and the need for truth and reconciliation are subjects that have traditionally been reserved for “global philanthropy.” But we’re seeing more and more funders supporting this work in the U.S. and in Europe.
Recently, there has been less funding for complex security issues, including nuclear security and climate security. Crucially, however, a great many funders are seeing how peace intersects with issues of equity, inclusion, and justice. These issues must be central to any peace and security funding strategy and should not be treated as “nice-to-haves.”
SK: How has philanthropy’s investment in peace and security been changed by the war in Ukraine? Do you believe this shift will continue?
AT: Not surprisingly, and because Ukraine is an active conflict, we have seen huge amounts of money pouring in, relatively quickly, all of which is very much needed. And funders should be wary of short-term commitments when it comes to saving human lives.
Philanthropy that aims to be long-lasting and effective should not just be rapid-response. Prevention is cheaper in money and human life than post-conflict response. And philanthropy should plan for long time horizons when considering peace and security. What this means in real life is that funders should not just fund according to what’s in the news cycle; rather, they should make deep commitments and stick to them.
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