Andrea Smith
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded
the hard way that the revolution will not be funded. INCITE! began in 2000,
with the purpose of supporting a movement of feminists of color organizing
against all forms of
interpersonal to state violence. When we first
organized, we were generally funded through individual donations. However,
by 2002, we found ourselves increasingly more successful in securing founda-
tion grants to support our work. We took a stand against state funding since
we perceived that antiviolence organizations who had state funding had been
co-opted. It never occurred to us to look at foundation funding in the same way.
However, in a trip to India (funded, ironically, by the Ford Foundation), we met
with many non-funded organizations that criticized us for receiving foundation
grants. When we saw that groups with much less access to resources were able to
do amazing work without funding, we began to question our reliance on founda-
tion grants.
Our growing suspicions about foundation grants were confirmed when, in
February 2004, INCITE! received an e-mail from the Ford Foundation with the
subject line "Congratulations!" and an offer of "a one-year or two-year grant of
$100,000" to cover our general operating expenses in response to a grant proposal
the Ford Foundation had solicited from us. Excited about the news, we commit-
ted to two major projects: the Sisterfire multimedia tour, which was organized
for 2004, and the third Color of Violence conference, to be held in New Orleans
in 2005. Then, unexpectedly on July 30, 2004, the Ford Foundation sent another
letter, explaining that it had reversed its decision because of our organization's
statement of support for the Palestinian liberation struggle. Apparently, during
the board approval process, a board member decided to investigate INCITE!
further and disapproved of what s/he found on our website. INCITE! quickly
firsthand experience the deleterious effects foundations can have
on radical social justice movements. However, we also learned that social jus-
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