People's Fund Blog

We all have a stake in social justice!

Commitment to a Movement

Grassroots, Intersectional, Progressive Action


There’s a thin line where philanthropy can step into exploitation. I have swallowed liquid cynicism laced with irony and despair at each electronic notification I’ve received in the last few years when a horrific tragedy is quickly followed by fundraising appeals from a number of organizations.


And, yes, it works. Just a few Orlando groups have raised about $10 million so far, mostly on social media. In times of shock, anger, grief, and guilt giving money can feels like the most direct balm.


I know so much about grassroots groups, the amazing localized work they do on fraying shoestrings. It’s this kind of work that will have long-term impact, but likely they won’t see a penny of these donations.


Dozens of agencies and individuals have crafted statements about the Pulse, Orlando massacre. I did not feel compelled to do this; to wordsmith a message woven from deep pain. Instead, I realized that Hawaii People’s Fund has been, is, and will continue doing the work that is most needed.


In looking back over 44 years of work, LGBT groups were on our grants lists from the beginning. Alongside so many other kinds of work led by a vast diversity of people whose issues always intersect, often unexpectedly, without discernable pattern.


Our role is to support the work and the intersectional learning. Building alliances, deepening commitments and capacities, and expanding understanding, strengthens the movement.

We are all in this together!

--Nancy Aleck


There’s a theory that everyone in the world is separated by no more than six degrees, that there’s a chain of connections between everyone. I’ve always said that in Hawaii, there’s only one and a half degrees between us.


During one week of February, our community lost three amazing warriors, nation-builders, resources, teachers, activists, and ohana. I wanted to share some of the connections between these three and the People’s Fund, which has been supporting progressive action and movement building work in Hawaii since 1972. And, of course, these links also connect them with each other, as well.


Though our early records are spotty, in the early 70s, the People’s Fund supported the filmmaking work of Victoria Keith, which included her film about the Sand Island evictions. One of the residents captured in this film was Abe Ahmad. Soon after, he himself became a filmmaker.


The People’s Fund supported the Hawaii chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Abe made a film for PSR about the threat of nuclear weapons and he took the name of that film, Puhipau. He partnered with Joan Lander, in work, life, love and together they documented the movement through the beautiful, insightful and powerful films by Na Maka o ka Aina.


The People’s Fund supported the work of Na Maka o ka Aina over the decades, either directly or by engagement with and promotion of the issues covered in their documentaries. Puhipau and Joan were honored at the Annual Dinner in 2004.


Kekuni Blaisdell was honored at the Annual Dinner in 1988 together with Marion Kelly. They were co-conspirators in hosting the Pro-Hawaiian Sovereignty Working Group, which was funded by the People’s Fund in 1992. At least one more grant was made to this group, but by then, it was called the Pro-Kanaka Maoli Independence Working Group.

Of course, during this period, Kekuni ma were also developing, implementing, and using the resulting tools of the Tribunal. The work of the Tribunal Komike was also supported a number of times by People’s Fund grants. The messages and impacts of the Tribunal continue to reverberate today. We can watch an amazing overview in the film made by Na Maka o Ka Aina and even purchase full transcripts of the meeting days on the website.


In 1992 a People’s Fund grant was made to the Coalition  Concerned  About  Army  Burning  of  Hazardous  Materials  in  Makua Valley. I’m sure many remember the open burn, open detonation (OBOD) practiced by the Army there.


The story I heard back then was that in the 1970s a core group of activists concerned about military occupation and abuse of the aina, wanted to reclaim Makua, Pohakuloa and Kahoolawe. A strategic decision was made to start with one place. Thus, the struggle for Kahoolawe was launched and it was twenty years later that major efforts began to free Makua.


In the 80s and 90s, two rounds of evictions of people living at Makua Beach were seen as connected to military control and heightened visibility of the intersecting issues. Makua activists met Makua beach community residents and together learned about how militarism is connected to sovereignty, how occupation and colonialism are connected to economic injustice. In 1996 a People’s Fund grant was made to the Makua Community Council followed by support in the late 90s and into 2000s for Malama Makua.


In the 1990s is when I met Leandra Wai, who was creating an oasis on the beach in one of the hottest, driest places on the island. With loving grace, she invited me into her space and told its story, her story.


During that time, Leandra was not only changing the aina, it was changing her. She was becoming an activist and a fierce kanaka warrior. Leandra is quoted in a 1996 Star Bulletin article saying, “the state has forced us to become educated… We’re all waking up now.” She had a vision of Makua as a living puuhonua and she never gave up creating this reality.


Leandra is featured in Na Maka o ka Aina’s film, Makua, to Heal a Nation.


One and a half degrees. Or less.


I am honored to have personally known Puhipau, Kekuni and Leandra. And I’m proud to have worked for an organization run for and by the people. I hope it will continue to thrive and support key work in ka pae aina for many decades to come.


We’re all connected to the kuleana these amazing individuals carried. Big torches are passed now, divided into many small lights for us all to carry on.

—Nancy Aleck

Disaster Trumps Prevention

Nancy Aleck

*Story heard on NPR: disaster trumps prevention. It is really sad that this is true. But, for the majority of donors, from individuals to nations, an urgent situation will inspire immediate and generous support. Funding the means to prevent equal or worse conditions will not.

I heard the story on New Year’s Day, but it was not news, not surprising. Just another reminder of how difficult it is for the grassroots organizations we work with throughout the islands. Their long-range strategies and community-based action will bring about a better future.

Fortunately, our constituents are really smart!

You know that change now can prevent the need for charity later.

  Youth engagement can block the pipeline to prison;

  organizing around fair wages can close the wealth gap;

  community gardens can avert hunger and malnutrition;

  marginalized groups speaking publicly can change laws and policies.



Thank you!


*Hear the story about preventing famine in Ethiopia HERE.


Contribute to Change, Not Charity™ in Hawaii HERE!

Intergenerational Philanthropy

 Nancy Aleck

Get young donors! Everyone recommends we focus on this for our financial sustainability. Use more online channels. Post on Facebook, Set up Instagram, etc.


Yet, research continues to find that donors (those who actually contribute money) are generally above age 50 and respond at a much higher rate to printed mailings.

The donation envelopes that we receive in the mail confirm this.


Baby boomers are projected to make a huge impact on the philanthropic community over the next two decades.  Nearly $60 trillion is estimated to be transferred in this period.


So, if you are a baby boomer, please consider Hawaii People’s Fund in your philanthropic strategies. One way to do this is to include a bequest in your will. Another (these are not mutually exclusive) is to set up an automatic online monthly giving plan. It’s secure and easy!


And if you are due to inherit money, consider starting your thoughtful giving patterns early with a monthly sustaining gift of $10 or more to Hawaii People’s Fund.


Keep it in the family! Invest in justice. Contribute to social change. Support a better Hawaii for all of us.

Full disclosure: I am a boomer. And I donate (monthly) to Hawaii People’s Fund.

Walking our Talk

Nancy Aleck

It’s three-quarters through 2015 and “justice” is in; “social change” is cool. Foundations and nonprofits that used to turn away when Hawaii People’s Fund voiced these values (and backed them up with action), now are having beach volleyball games with these terms.


“Effective altruism," "mission investing," and "strategic impact” are leading the philanthropic sector. While careful not to raise my blood pressure, I have to take this in with grains of salt. Talk is cheap, phraseology can be empty.


Times are tough for grassroots organizations like Hawaii People’s Fund. We are supporting groups on the cutting—and often the controversial—edge. No skinny puppies, beautiful native plants, cute (or starving) children to grab people’s heartstrings and pocketbooks.


In fact, because we support positive, progressive change, rather than calling attention to social problems, our grantees’ stories are most often stories of hope, success and joy. Bit by bit they are making a difference and building a better Hawaii.


Today I learned in a webinar that although the “recession” has moved to a “recovery,” 93% of these gains has gone to the top 1/10 of the top 1%. Wealth is more concentrated than ever. Even our most loyal donors often cannot afford to give at the same levels they have been.


There are a few options that come to mind. We can adjust our mission and tweak the basic values held by the People’s Fund for 4+ decades. We can try harder to identify new donors, especially a few progressive millionaires who might not know about Hawaii People’s Fund.


Or, although unrestricted donations from wealthy are always welcome, my preference is to keep on keeping on. Every Board member, every donor, every grantee, everyone who knows and loves us, can share the word. Forward an email, have a conversation, invite a friend or acquaintance to an event.


If we have fewer dollars, we may not be able to distribute as much in grant funds. But, we can still hold gatherings for activist networking, dialogue and support. We can continue to offer community engagement opportunities through film screenings and panel discussions. We can always share other actions and thoughts on our website calendar and Facebook page.


Your donations are needed and welcome. Your support is even more valuable. We thrive on People Power! We can and we will continue to focus on what is important, ask the right questions, and invite everyone to find your place in building Hawaii’s movements for a sustainable, just, and inclusive future.

Less Can be More

Nancy Aleck 8-29-15

Giving out grant money, building capacity, growing community networks and overall support for a progressive, grassroots movement in Hawaii.


These are our charges at Hawaii People’s Fund. We approach them with love, embrace them with joy, implement them with shared creativity.


Still, it’s a lot for an organization that is very grassroots itself. Yet, we are flexible. We listen and observe. After 43 years, Hawaii People’s Fund is still a work in progress.


This year, we’re embarking on a new trial: annual (rather than 2X/year) grantmaking with a higher maximum on the grant amount. This change has a lot to do with available resources. Unlike most foundations, Hawaii People’s Fund must raise all the funds we re-grant. The beauty of this is that we truly are a community fund. YOUR support is what makes this work.


The challenge is that donations do not flow on a regular basis. In the summer, especially, we receive fewer contributions than during the end-of-the-year season. Saving up for a whole year will make a more level playing field for grantmaking. Otherwise, those applying right after the summer months face a much smaller amount to be awarded.


But, less CAN be more. Hawaii People’s Fund continues to connect with current and potential grantees. Just like our fundraising, we need YOU!


If you know of a group working for social change, please refer them to our site at If you are part of one of these groups, give us a call, let us know what you are doing, what are your needs. Even if we cannot provide funding, we continue to offer technical support, trainings, and convenings for activists to share amongst each other. This latter may be the most fertile and important work we do!


A number of community events are coming up in the fall. Several film screenings, Kipuka for Change Peer Learning Circles, the Annual Dinner and EXPO, and a People’s Fund visit to Hawaii Island. Please check the website calendar, keep in touch and hope to see you soon!

Sharing my testimony

Nancy Aleck

To: BLNR hearing, July 10, 2015, regarding “emergency” rules for Mauna Kea.


Hawaii needs the TMT like a fish needs a bicycle.  Like the homeless need the ever-expanding Kakaako towers. Like the people of the world need nuclear weapons.


Perhaps these opinions are debatable. But the time to debate, discuss, and consider carefully is before the harm is done. There is no emergency. Do not proceed with these rules which are only meant to eliminate the presence of Mauna Kea protectors.


The Kanaka Maoli drive to protect the mauna is rooted in a deep knowing in the naau, an organic connection from the piko.


Malama Aina is probably universal, something we would all embrace if we hadn’t stopped listening.


Daily visitors have been allowed on the mountain. Developers, astronomers, construction workers and all kinds of trucks and equipment have been allowed on the mountain. Now that ku kiai mauna are there, it’s considered imminent peril? No. They have organized a kapu aloha that can change the world, they are acting from a place of peace.


Decision makers and power-brokers of Hawaii have forgotten how to prioritize life over profit. The time is now to make a correction. You are advised to do so.



Nancy Aleck

Dear Greece

Nancy Aleck 7/9/15


I generally do not write or speak too publicly about global politics as I’m not that well-read or articulate. My opinions are formed from approximately 50% intuition and 50% information. I trust the former more than the latter!


However, my mind continues to hover on the problems Greece is facing and so, from a resident of an island nation to another island nation, here are some thoughts.


Yo, Greece: connect with some folks in Hawaii. You need cash. They love cash.


First, all those old style Mediterranean buildings, apartments, pensions or whatever they are called: space hogs. You need to build up, build dense, and build for the wealthiest. Consult with Kamehameha Schools and Howard Hughes Corporation. They know how to do it.


Next, you got a lot of little islands; how about those beach areas? Think restaurants, volleyball courts, outdoor concert arenas, and high- (high!) end hotels. Watercraft of all kinds. Consult with Oahu Mayor, Kirk Caldwell on this one. He’s got lots of ideas.


Now, there are some mountains there, right? Or at least a few hills. Pick one that’s least likely to become an active volcano. Get everything off the top of it. Then start the bidding for astronomers to come and build a giant telescope. Especially on one of the more rural, unpopulated islands. Less city lights to get in the way of really, really important exploration for dead stars, gassy planets, black holes and possible alternate forms of life. There seem to be many experts in this field here in Hawaii. Get referrals from the Governor, David Ige. Be sure to charge big rent, though. Don't copy Hawaii on this point.


I’ve seen video and heard interviews with street market sellers; they are facing closure because their regular customers have no money to buy food. Hey, tourists love these sidewalk sellers! The Kapiolani Community College Saturday market has become a tourist mecca and has a Zagat rating of 24. You can get advice from the Hawaii Farm Bureau who runs the KCC Farmers Market


Finally, to market all this to the rich people (most of whom do not reside in your country), a great resource is Hawaii Tourism Authority, also known as HTA. They can not only help you sell it, but will have lots of tips on how to increase, vary and divert multiple revenue streams. Tax rich visitors and give your own people back their pensions.

I have no ideas, however, on how to build popular support for destroying all local culture for the almighty Euro (or maybe Drachma, waiting to see which).

Disaster Relief: Whose Relief?

Nancy Aleck 5/2/15

I still remember exactly where I was, driving early in the morning and listening to a public radio report about the state of Banda Aceh one year after the devastating 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. So much critical need remained, but public attention—and financial resources—had long since faded.  This was a lesson I never forgot.


The earthquake in Nepal has left great destruction, still untold, uncounted and much untended at this time. We are moved. We want to do something. Fundraising events and charitable requests spring up to donate, help. And we do. And we are relieved.


Change not Charity™ means long-term vision and action.


Of course we, collectively and officially, can always be more prepared for a disaster. And yet, we are never really prepared. One of our Board members, Fawn Jade Koopman, is from Nepal. Her family is there. She shares that she is “troubled by the many derogatory comments about Nepal’s lack of infrastructure and disorganization, etc.”


Change not Charity™ means finding, analyzing and addressing the root causes of problems.


“So many just don't understand the history behind Nepal's poverty,” says Fawn. “But, why would they? Most people probably never even gave a thought to Kathmandu before the earthquake…  we are poor because Nepal ceded one-third of its territories to the British in exchange for our sovereignty, and for the services of our Gorkhali soldiers.


“Nepal is one of the few Asian countries that has never been colonized. But, as a result, we are forced to rely on India's ports to import/export goods, and India charges us exorbitant fees and taxes. 


“Nepal is a tiny land locked country in the shadow of the hugest mountains in the world. Terrible roads should be expected Nepal, because how exactly do you build roads through the Himalayas? And the original 16th century Newari buildings were still standing, and in use up until last week, and they were perfectly fine and beautiful.”


I was so happy to find this recent article about our tendency to rush into disaster relief from a distance. It’s worth a read! The first word of advice: wait. And while we’re waiting, we can learn more about the root issues and the best ways we can help. Read more here.


Major Gifts and Movement Building

Nancy Aleck 4/17/15

Recently I read that Helen Keller was once asked if there was anything that could have been worse than losing her sight. Keller replied: “Yes, I could have lost my vision.”


Hawaii People’s Fund supports grassroots organizations. Small ones, emerging ones, controversial ones. These groups might not find support anywhere else.


Grassroots community organizations are the leading edge of change. Large agencies, institutions, may be doing critical work, but they began in someone’s carport or neighborhood center once upon a time. That’s where you’ll find Hawaii People’s Fund, in the garage, not at the gala.


Other philanthropic, grantmaking foundations operate completely or in large part from the interest earned off of invested fortunes. Hawaii People’s Fund IS a people’s fund. Our operating costs are held to a minimum. Our grant funds come from YOU, the people. Once we award grants, we have to start all over. It’s like the tide; grantmaking comes at high tide!


Our values are focused on progressive issues and supporting movements for justice and social change. To do this, we also have to practice fundraising. And much of the literature and expert advice says to focus on major donors. Professional fundraisers spend a lot of time on this. We have less than 2 full-time staff to run everything.


Data tells us that Hawaii has a very high percentage of resident millionaires. Please note: we will be most appreciative if any donor wants to contribute a significant amount of money to Hawaii People’s Fund (a 501c3, tax deductible)! A few have and do and it surely makes a big difference to the work we do. We are happy to discuss Hawaii People’s Fund with any interested millionaire or hundred thousandaire!


This said, like all successful activism, our work depends not on one or two people but on the commitment of dozens, hundreds, and thousands of individuals united by and committed to a vision of justice, equality, dignity. Every $10 donation from a busy, low-income person who cares about the future of our community has as much meaning as $10,000 from a wealthy individual who cares just as much and can afford more. A beautiful stone wall is made up of a variety of rocks, different sizes and shapes, not just a couple of boulders!


Your vision, your commitment, your contribution and engagement in building a better future is what sustains Hawaii People’s Fund. We continue to steward all donations as thoughtfully and carefully as possible and we are always open to your feedback.

Making Change

3-31-15 Nancy Aleck

Hawaii People's Fund supports social change. We give grant funding to grassroots groups. We build community with and among grassroots groups. And we encourage others to participate in a collective form of philanthropy, donating money which we re-distribute to support the work of these grassroots organizations.

I've tried to avoid philanthropic activities becoming more like commercial transactions. We don't usually have "perks" for giving, for example. We don't participate in "shopping days" which encourages us to spend money at a certain place that will then give People's Fund a donation. So, when Amazon first offered their "smile" program, I ignored it.

Then I found out someone was listing us when making  Amazon purchases. I think you can name pretty much any nonprofit organization. But, that doesn't mean Amazon will share. Turns out these contributions were sitting in an account somewhere waiting for us to register.

Better we re-distribute than Amazon collect the interest! If you want to support Hawaii People's Fund while shopping on Amazon, enter HERE!

Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Peoples Fund whenever you shop on AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.


Transitions (a recurring theme of late)

3-19-15 Nancy Aleck

I had ten extra minutes this morning while waiting for the hosts of a free webinar to get past technical difficulties. So, of course, I chose to open a new window to check email.


I read an announcement for a different web presentation and was caught by a reference to a specific kind of transition: that of young leaders taking institutions begun as “analog” into the future.


A future which I assumed to mean a "digital" reality, such as the one that still didn’t have working audio on the other open window of my computer.


I had dinner last night with two friends, Baby Boomers like myself. I mentioned my gas stove, original to the 70-year old cottage I rent. It still works, but really needs a tune-up or an upgrade.


Tom shared that new appliances are no longer analog. They all have motherboards. And most need repair or replacement early and/or frequently. Yes, things were built to last in “the old days.”


Yet, analog is surely a relic soon to be left in the past. How can we promote and be part of healthy transitions? Transitions that embrace the new, boldly enter the future, yet honor valuable legacies that resisted planned obsolescence and disposable living?

American Denial

 2-4-15 Nancy Aleck

Community Cinema screened American Denial this week and it will air on PBS later in February. The film deals with implicit racial bias in American society, based on a study done in the1940s. Enthused by the American ideals of equality, a European researcher found a society embedded with long and continued history of racial domination. His findings have strong resonance to our context today.


Has there been change? Of course! Is it enough? People of color largely say “no.”  Data that measure and evaluate systems such as education, employment,  poverty and incarceration, say “no.”


White people are less clear and many continue to be caught in a dichotomy of worthy ideals and habitual, unconscious practice. Good will can only go so far. Denial can be implicit, too. The unwillingness for us white folks to dig deeply into our own unconscious values and behaviors means we can’t really address racism or help create change. 


Addressing implicit bias does not mean finding empathetic parallels of being in a minority, moments of feeling discriminated against.  This quick shift to, I feel your pain, can I tell you about the time when I… is denying ourselves even the opportunity to examine one’s own biases.


One researcher states in the film that the “self-examined life” holds no promise of a happy life. But self-examination can lead to reduced denial in society and the opportunity to change the root structures of institutional/systemic practices.


American Denial may not be an earthshaking, game-changing documentary. But it poses some great questions that we should honestly reflect upon and hopefully be courageous enough to discuss with each other.

Deep Dark Secret Stuffs

 1-29-15 Nancy Aleck

For many years I have held a strong, but rarely expressed, belief about American politics. I have assumed a scenario something like this:

A new US President is elected. Shortly before taking the oath of office, he is brought to a secret underground (figuratively, if not literally) chamber where he is schooled on exactly what is what; how much latitude he has to operate according to his own mind and values and then when and to whom he has to listen and obey.


This morning I found out there is actually a term for my private vision and it's real: the Deep State. An intersection of political, corporate and military powers that actually calls the shots.


Now that I've got a name, I can find all kinds of information. The first article I saw, via Bill Moyers is long and inclusive. It says …the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion. You can read it HERE.


I always figured it was this Deep State (though I had no name for it) that was keeping Obama so publicly enamored of the TransPacificPartnership, TPP trade pact. (a 2-minute TPP primer is HERE)


The Deep State functions at all levels. We're seeing it played out right now in Hawaii, especially on Oahu, related to the potential Army downsizing. Of course, the Chamber of Commerce wants to maintain (if not expand) the troop size on Oahu. The Honolulu Mayor and his Administration jumped on the bandwagon and publicly promoted a petition to keep the Army on Oahu.


Worst of all, the teachers' union, the HSTA, put out a call for teachers to support and even rally for “keeping our heroes home.” There are some arguable terms even in this short phrase, one being “home.” Most of the Army folks are subsidized transients; they do not consider this place their home.


Our public educators are supposed to be helping our youth develop critical thinking skills. Yet the HSTA is asking them to blindly accept the call. It’s abhorrent!


At the root of all this is the fact that the Army itself is planning to downsize. It’s just a question of where. We have the opportunity to creatively envision a sustainable community that supports local life without dependence on war and its mechanics.


What could Wahiawa be like without Schofield? So few with power even seem willing to entertain the range of possibilities. Kudos to Rep. Kaniela Ing who seems to get this! Let's plan for the opposite of a Deep State!


Climate Justice

On December 10, HPF hosted an informal convening to discuss the intersections of climate change and social justice. It was a stormy night, but a small group of amazing people with passion, opinions and a good amount of expertise came together to embrace this conversation. We asked why people came. Here is one response that paralleled others: To learn new ideas for personal action and how others connect climate change to social justice. 


Together, we shared information and concerns. We’re embedded in a global system where it’s almost impossible to do no harm, said one participant. So how do we take any step at all from here?


It was acknowledged that individual behaviors must continue to change, but at much greater rates; individual engagement has to move beyond fancy water bottles, from what's trendy to daily conscious action and practice. A vegan chef shared the harm that meat diets do to the planet and the major contribution this makes to climate change.


Of course, behavioral change must be surpassed by systemic and institutional change. Many models exist for us to learn from and implement. Youth seem to be getting it and some schools are adopting frameworks of ecological literacy. First nations and indigenous peoples throughout the world have long held practices that treat the earth with care. Now these cultural traditions are being brought into contemporary politics to address environmental degradation, such as in the Idle No More initiative in Canada.


We all agreed that community-based, grassroots organizing will lead change, not governments or global agencies imposing “solutions” in the absence of the people’s voices and cultural concerns.


One of the parting comments regarding take-aways from the evening:

We have a lot of work to do. Many of us are working in silos-it is all good work and that is hopeful-but it is disconnected.   When these isolated efforts come together it is going to be awesome. Hawai’i People’s Fund should consider options for encouraging the “coming together” part.

Gatherings, convenings, and opportunities for coming together is a lot of what Hawaii People’s Fund does. Join us! Bring your best thinking, an open heart, and commitment for social change. The magic will happen!


Here is a link to the opening of the September, 2014 UN gathering on Climate Change, an inspirational and moving poem by former Honolulu resident, Marshall Islander Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner


Some other climate justice resources and links can be found HERE


A small fish in a big ocean can still make a difference!

In the context of other foundations, Hawaii People’s Fund is as grassroots as the groups we support. We know that our grantees are engaged in game-changing work addressing diverse issues. Recently, we got a reminder that the same is true for our Fund.


Every year we are asked by Funders for LGBT Issues to report on our grantmaking in this arena. They just published their 12th annual tracking report of US foundation grantmaking.*


Overall, the report tracks 4,152 grants awarded by 342 foundations in 2013. Hawaii People’s Fund’s 3 grants that year might seem a small number, but many much larger foundations awarded only 1 or 2 grants. (For example, the Gates Foundation awarded one $5,000 grant to an LGBTQ organization.)


We ending the year knowing that bigger isn’t necessarily better and small can be fierce!


Of course, none of our work would happen without your support. So, this is your story, too. And we all know what lots of small fish can do!

*For all the data captured in this report, see the full report HERE


Sprayed by fleeting mists

Nancy Aleck, Hawaii People's Fund Executive Director

One thing that really bugs me: buzz words.

One precept I use to challenge myself with: lean into it.


So, when I got a flyer that had more buzzwords on one page than I'd ever seen in a serious invitation, I first laughed and then determined that I should really go. And go with with my mind as open as possible.

I sat in the audience keeping my mind open, felt like I was sitting on a beach wall over waves of inspiration getting misted and sometimes feeling fully splashed. But I also felt so much discomfort. Why was I so uneasy? Was I being closed, despite my efforts? I kept analyzing my reaction.

The whole thing was steeped in capitalism, in making money. Little or nothing about building community, building a nation, about preserving and/or establishing practices that will sustain the people for seven generations. More about how the business will benchmark the bottom line. And, although they talked about double bottom lines, even quadruple ones, to me it seemed to prioritize individual profit and financial sustainability over anything else.

In the end, I felt even more certain that the core, basic values of Hawaii People's Fund are critical and we must remain true to them, even when passing tides call out with seductive new buzzwords. The tides shift. We need to hang in!




From a brief talk from Nancy Aleck, Executive Director, at November 8, 2014 Annual Dinner:

…Thank you for being the people of Hawaii People’s Fund!


I was thinking about what to say tonight. I decided to talk briefly about hard-core pornography, specifically about how porn is like social change.

If nothing else, I’ve got your attention!

So, a Supreme Court justice once said he couldn’t really define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it.


In the world of philanthropy, ideas and buzzwords are always trending-- like flavors of the month or of the year. These days, we’re hearing about collective impact, social capital, mission investing; even social change is coming into mainstream use…   For now…


But mainstream foundations are generally NOT funding the base of social movements, the grassroots activists, advocates, the creative risk-takers, and resisters.


And grassroots groups generally don’t have logic models, well-established metrics, or a clearly articulated set of outcomes. That doesn’t mean they aren’t strategic--it means they (we) are nimble and flexible, responsive to the moment and really busy!


The impact of grassroots efforts for justice and social change may not be clearly measurable for years, even decades. So, it may be difficult to measure, to define at a given point in time, but we know it when we see it, when we feel it.


And tonight we can all see it, feel it, hear it.   Do you think so?

Another Hawaii is coming!


Your support for Hawaii People’s Fund allows us to provide support for the infrastructure of community-based, grassroots action that makes social change—and movements—happen.


Their work addresses a variety of intersecting issues. Our work helps to create a variety of intersecting partnerships.


We are a grassroots organization, too, and one of our core values is reciprocity. It’s not US and YOU or US and THEM. It’s just US! We are all in this together!


And, Hawaii People’s Fund, at 43 years old, is in it for the long haul. We’re not following trends; we’re building partners in change.


In the coming year, we intend to continue building and bridging partnerships. With your help and support, we will strengthen our focus on people-to-people fundraising and grantmaking for the movement.  We will continue to work towards ensuring that our best possibilities become reality.


Enjoy the music and each other. Mahalo.


Community Funds & Action!


From its earliest grantmaking, in 1972-3 into the 1990s, Hawaii People’s Fund supported community organizing in Honolulu’s Chinatown. The critical grassroots groups were Third Arm and People Against Chinatown Evictions (PACE).


Several continuous Hawaii People’s Fund constituents were part of these groups and one asked if we might help preserve more of the stories from this important period of strategic activism,


Hawaii People’s Fund worked with a UH student-intern in the spring/summer of 2016. Sonja Cookman put this article together. She met with about a dozen organizers from those days. She also scanned a number of original documents, organizational newsletters and media coverage. Hawaii People’s Fund was able to digitize a couple hundred old slides.


The original activists plan to come together to archive more of their memories. Hawaii People’s Fund hopes this article, the first source documents, and the ongoing work of the surviving organizers will help preserve the history and serve to inspire and inform continued struggles against evictions and gentrification and activism for access to health care, housing and dignity for all.

Click the title above or open the document below to read Sonjaʻs paper.


See more pictures by movement photographer, Ed Greevy, here:


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