Supporting Thriving & Participatory Communities: FACT’s Niche in the Ecosystem of Philanthropy

On August 20, 2011 EGA, HEFN and FNTG hosted a webinar featuring the French American Charitable Trust (FACT). Over the past 18 years, FACT has invested in $52 million in grassroots community organizing and in groups that developed leadership and engaged community members for areas in environmental justice, health, and accountability development. As FACT nears its intentional spend-out process at the end of 2011, FACT Director Diane Feeney, Senior Program Office Laura Livoti, and Operations & Grants Manager Myra Bicknell shared FACT’s philanthropic approach and the lessons learned over the course of its grantmaking.

FACT’s mission is to help develop and sustain the field of progressive community organizing and advocacy. They have successfully done just this by building and strengthening their grantees that support low income residents and people of color. FACT decided early on to fund strategies instead of particular issue areas. In this way, grantees such as Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, are able to strengthen their own members and expand their organization (with the help of FACT) to further their cause of increasing public participation in issues such as mountain top coal removal. FACT has seen their grantees come together to vote down proposals, see wins at the federal level, and build healthier communities all at a grassroots level.

In summary, the main lessons FACT have learned that has helped it develop as a successful grantmaker are:

  1. Provide flexible funding through general operating support
  2. Staying with grantees for long terms (FACT has 6 – 18 year plans)
  3. Don’t overly burden grantees with excessive reporting requirements
  4. Giving grantees what they need in order to succeed
  5. Supporting organizations that work in partnerships with others, as well as the coalitions and alliances that they work with
  6. Helping grantees build electrical clout by supporting their c3 voter education and voting strategies
  7. Investing in groups you believe in and developing key relationships of trust over time
  8. Being active in the field and visiting grantees and their work

For More Information:
Visit FACT’s website for more information on their projects. The website will be available until 2016. Or email Ramtin Arablouei at HEFN at to access the webinar recording.