Built to Last — 2017 Year-End Update

Our annual meeting is upon us.

This means sifting through proposals, following up on tips from the smart folks in our network, and thinking about how our resources can best be used. This means a lot of back-and-forth on the phone and email, banging our heads against the question that all of us ask this time of year: How do we make good on our promise to change the world just a little bit for the better?

First, here’s an update on where we’ve been. We are 25 years into this. And it feels good to say we have invested well over $2 million, at a steady clip of almost $100,000 a year, to causes near and dear to our hearts—and yours. Starting with a donation from Bobby in 1990, the Furthur Foundation has walked a wide path with groups working on everything from wolves to toxic waste, migratory birds to bank boycotts, music education to marriage equality.

What makes this possible is people like you. Each step of the way, friends have pitched in as best they can. Why? Because they like the way we work. All volunteer, minimal overhead—every penny goes straight to the people doing the work. This means almost all the heavy lifting at Furthur, from the lawyer who keeps us legal to the financial adviser who handles donations of appreciated stock (and makes sure you get that tax deduction), to the accountants, researchers, and social media mavens—they are all in it for the planet.

They also like the way we think. Working together for 25 years means we have a lot of experience, a wide network, and a deep bench. We know a good cause, a good strategy, and a good team when we see it. We stay up on the issues, watch where the dollars go, and pick winners, as best we can.

Enough about us. What about you? What might a partnership with us look like? For some, it’s as simple as making a donation through our Facebook page. For others, it’s sending a check (mailing address to the right). For still others, it’s providing a gift of appreciated stock, which not only provides value to Furthur Foundation, but also significant tax benefits to donors.

However you may choose to support us, we are truly, deeply, profoundly grateful!

Thanks for all you do…

 

2016 Furthur Foundation Grantees

2016 Furthur Foundation Grantees

Say hello to our 2016 grantees. We are amazed at all the great work going on in the world. 2016 was the year that Bobby and Natascha Weir and Andre Carothers (and their kids), along with Mountain Girl and the rest of the Furthur board became very interested in food, in immigration, and in providing opportunities for young people in the Bay Area to experience wild nature. And we continued to show support for friends and family like Wavy Gravy, the Grateful Dead Archive at UCSC, and our past Furthur grantees who are defending charismatic megafauna.

Click through to learn more about them. And, by all means, throw your support to the ones you like.

Asian Immigrant Women’s Advocates

Brothers on the Rise

Camp WinnaRainbow

Extra Food

Food Shift

Friends of the Clearwater

Girlventures

The Global Muslim Climate Network

Grateful Dead Library

Health Initiatives for Youth

Homeless Garden Project

Indigenous Environmental Network
Pipeline Fighters “March to Give Keystone XL the Boot”

The Kitchen

Momentum Community

MPower Change

Mujueres Unida Y Activas

Pegasus Voyages

Sierra Harvest

The Snow Leopard Conservancy

Urban Bird Foundation

Our 2015 Investment Thesis

As we get ready for this year’s board meeting, here are some notes I shared with the board about the current group of potential grantees.

To: Ray, MG, Bob, Chris, GregFurthur Foundation Board Members
From: Andre
Re: 2015 Docket

I am very much looking forward to seeing you all this week. This list of great groups is a result of the usual combination of interests and strategies that have guided our work for years. As you all know, we:

  1. Look for leverage. With a small amount of money to give away, it’s important to find projects that have smaller budgets, and projects that propose to tackle a social problem in an innovative way, help generate other resources to bring to bear on the effort, or otherwise produce outsize results (in relation to the resources available). I think you’ll see many organizations that fit that profile.
  2. Respond to current events. You will note that there is a project related to refugees who are arriving in the Bay Area from the Middle East and need support of all kinds.
  3. Respond to larger societal trends. Economic disparity, joblessness, and the hollowing out of the middle and lower classes are large-scale economic trends that foundations like ours must respond to. You will see projects that relate to addressing these problems, including an exploration of a guaranteed minimum income and worker-owned cooperatives. In the same way, the transformation of society through technology means that we looking at two groups that help train people of color in software development and related business skills.
  4. Love charismatic megafauna. Saving and reintroducing wolves, bears, owls and other creatures at the top of the food chain has an enormous ripple effect on large environments, and is something that we have supported for years.
  5. Support training, leadership and self-care for the social change sector. Organizations that develop skills and provide other types of support for the good people who are doing social change work are by definition, if executed well, high leverage funding opportunities.
  6. Appreciate groups that stay in touch. As always, we are responsive to organizations that check in. If they remember us, report back to us, and make a good case for their work, we know they are likely well-run, viable enterprises who treat all their customers well.
  7. Love the arts and the outdoors, particularly efforts with a social mission. We are looking at supporting a play about solitary confinement that includes actors who are ex-prisoners, a group that teaches high school kids how to build businesses around their music, and a team that is rebuilding an old sailboat that takes inner-city kids sailing around the bay.

That is our “investment thesis” for this year.

Looking forward to seeing you all next week, and thanks for all you do…

Andre

Barbara Whitestone … Fare Thee Well

Barbara Whitestone15 years ago Barbara Whitestone approached me, after we met through friends in Grateful Dead circles, and asked if I wanted to help her run the Furthur Foundation. I said yes, of course, and we began a powerful collaboration that lasted a decade.

It is impossible to speak of her, or anyone like her, in the past tense. I know she agrees, and would argue the point with her trademark passion and conviction. Energy persists, she would say (particularly hers, I would say).

She is, among her many qualities, hard-nosed, sensitive, opinionated, loving, a whirlwind of energy, and a taproot into the inky blackness. She understands the infrastructure, in both (all three?) realms. She has one foot in the spirit world, and another so firmly on the ground that it is hard for me—a narrower vessel—to reconcile these poles. She contains multitudes, and no one who knows her begrudges her any of them. A rare treat, the totality of Barbara Whitestone, for us and the world.

I know she hears this. Send her some love.

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