Grantmakers for Southern Progress recently conducted a research study that examined the thinking and motivation behind social justice funding in the South. (See As the South Goes: Philanthropy and Social Justice in the US South) The first question asked of the study sample involved language:
How do Southern and national foundations talk and think about social justice work in the South?
A core assumption going into the research was that language could be a barrier to Southern and national funders developing partnerships. In particular, GSP assumed the term social justice might present a particular challenge. This proved to be the case. The researchers also tested other terms that related to social justice, in search of language that might substitute for "social justice." This short paper aims to provide grantmakers with a better understanding of how the language they use may be received by different funders. GSP hopes that this increased understanding can help facilitate deeper conversations about the broader shared ambitions of all funders of social justice work in the South.