Skip links
Published on: News

Native Voices Rising Reports on the State of Organizing and Advocacy in Native America and Launches Native-led Re-granting Fund

Minneapolis, MN – Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP) and Common Counsel Foundation (CCF) announce the launch of Native Voices Rising (NVR), a research and re-granting project designed to support grassroots groups led by and for Native communities in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities.Native Voices Rising establishes a mechanism for donors to invest in organizations led by Native people through a grantmaking vehicle whose decision makers are also members of Native communities. NVR funding is informed by its newly released report “A Case For Funding Native-Led Change,” which identified 146 non-profit social change organizations led by Native Americans to benefit Native communities. The report includes in-depth surveys with 49 of these organizations.“This innovative project uniquely fills knowledge gaps within the philanthropic sector regarding the needs of Native communities and the strategies these communities employ to create change,” noted Native Americans in Philanthropy’s Executive Director, Carly Hare.It is considered a truism, within philanthropic circles, that organizing in Native communities looks different than in non-Native communities. Native Voices Rising helps elucidate some of the characteristic frequently found among successful grassroots Native organizing efforts, including:

  • Leaders are embedded in the community
  • Strong relationships based on trust exist between all staff and community
  • Knowledge of and sensitivity to cultural protocols is engrained
  • Native values, like consensus decision-making are integrated into the organization
  • Membership and programs are multi-generational
  • Direct services might be offered in coordination with organizing, advocacy, leadership development or voter engagement strategies

“The range of strategies employed by the organizations surveyed varies between groups and across movements. Nonetheless, researchers identified the practice of informing and advocating for public policies through organized community action as a common strategy employed by the majority of survey respondents,” according to Louis Delgado, lead researcher, for the Native Voices Rising report. The report provides a set of case studies highlighting the diversity of strategies that Native groups are utilizing to have positive impact in their communities — these include promoting laws to provide greater environmental protections; gaining management control over food resources; ensuring racial equity in government programs; extending broadband into rural communities; and guaranteeing full access to the vote. The researchers identified five issue areas in which Native community groups are most active: environmental justice; subsistence in Alaska; Native engagement in the urban context; media; and voter engagement.“ While the findings derive directly from the 49 organizationssurveyed, nearly all of the recommendationsfor enhancing the effectiveness of grantmaking strategies in Native America are relevant to any funder interested in supporting Native communities and organizations,” says Hare.“ It is worth underscoring that in Native communities direct services were considered by many groups to be essential to their community organizing and advocacy work,” she added.“ With only .3% of charitable funding dedicated to Native causes, as reported by the Foundation Center,” remarked Laura Livoti, CEO of Common Counsel Foundation, “we hope Native Voices Rising will catalyze increased support for this under-resourced community over the next decade.” Moreover, the report revealed the imperative of providing support for strengthening Native organizationsin order to increase the likelihood that they are successful in raising funds. Forty-nine percent of the groups surveyed identified a lack of capacity as one of the key barriers to obtaining individual donor and grant money. Native Voices Rising is a funding vehicle that will utilize Native-led grantmaking committees, composed of Native leaders and supported with staff expertise provided by the Common Counsel Foundation and Native Americans in Philanthropy. The first NVR grants will be disbursed in December 2013, with support from Open Society Foundations. Interested organizations are encouraged to apply at Letters of Intent are due August 15, 2013. Interested donors are encouraged to contact Common Counsel Foundation to learn more about contributing to the re-granting pool. The full report or an executive summary can be found on Native Voices rising website, # #Native Voices Rising is a project of Common Counsel Foundation and Native Americans in Philanthropy Common Counsel Foundation is a 25-year old consortium of family foundations and donor advised funds that have joined together to grow the resources available for progressive organizations and social movements. Through CCF’s strategic philanthropic services, the Foundation prioritizes support for community-based organizations led by low-income people or people of color to advance equity and environmental sustainability. More information is available at

Native Americans in Philanthropy  is a membership circle of nonprofits, tribal communities, and foundations committed to the beliefs, traditions and gifts of Native peoples. Native Americans in Philanthropy board and members hold a vision of healthy and sustainable communities enhanced by the Native spirit of generosity. This vision inspires and motivates member engagement through our mission to advance philanthropic practices grounded in native values and traditions. For more information,