June 3, 2020

Defend our Communities, Defund the Police


To our beloved Black folks: We cherish every breath that you breathe, because it’s a gift to us all. We stand as accomplices to your life, your work, your rest, your joy, and your worth.

As an activist fund, we are working within an institution that is ripe with white supremacy and anti-Black racism—one that was literally built off of stolen land and labor. We commit to you that we will do everything we can to burn that old system to the ground, and to rebuild something that’s actually made for us. Made for all of us to survive and flourish.

We care for you. We care for those who are “looting.” We care for those who are burning down police precincts and cop cars. We care for those who are peacefully protesting on these streets. We care for those supporting from home. We care for those who are moving resources as a form of resistance. We care for those who are mourning, who are sick. And we care for those who are taking the time they need to heal and find joy in this moment, because we need all of you, and we love you unconditionally. Thank you for all of this labor.


Artists from left to right: Tesh Silver, Jose (Lupe) Ortiz, and Sierra Clark. Image descriptions below.

We call upon all non-Black colleagues, siblings, and friends to join us in taking action.

At Third Wave, we know that all gender justice wins have been rooted in the legacy of Black liberation and racial justice movements. Philanthropy needs to respond to this moment with the main resource that we’ve continued to hoard, and that people continue to demand—our dollars. Check out the Movement for Black Lives for a myriad of ways to show up.

To wealthy folks: Do everything you can to liberate your wealth for Black lives.

  • Write a check so big that your hands sweat. Commit to that level for multiple years. Leave contact information and be open to being asked for more.
  • Endow Black-led organizations, community foundations, or invest in a capital campaign.
  • Build power within your family foundation to gain strategic control over your wealth, then release it through a reparations lens.
  • Educate yourself, your family, and your community on how critical it is to #DefundThePolice and Invest in Black-led health and safety strategies.

You might make mistakes, but don’t let that stop you from acting because the biggest mistake is continuing to hoard your resources. Get clear on who you are accountable to, keep it moving, and keep learning.

To working class folks: Individuals and institutions with wealth should take notes from the audacity and generosity of your giving. We see you leading these critical strategies:

  • Making one-time and sustaining monthly gifts to address the urgency of this moment and resource this work over the long term.
  • Spearheading DIY matching gift campaigns. Calling for accountability and transparency posting screenshots of gifts and calling on others to do the same.

Some groups in Minneapolis have been flooded with small dollar gifts to the point where they have been redirecting funds. You moved millions to grassroots organizing and community bail funds in a matter of days. You have more control over philanthropy than you realize—thank you and let’s keep it going.

To foundations: Release your endowments for Black Lives.

  • Only 0.6% of philanthropic dollars went to women of color in 2016. Reprioritize your budget.
  • Commit to increasing your giving beyond the 5% legal minimum for foundations. Do this with a racial justice lens to ensure this goes to Black-led organizing. Commit to that for at least three years. Get your CEO and boards aligned.
  • Divest your endowed dollars from the police, prisons, arms industry, and the criminal legal system. You can read up on the Divest/Invest strategy here.

We’re done with the “now more than ever” language, because clearly that’s not getting the message across. We need to turn up with our dollars now—it’s overdue.  

Say their names: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Nina Pop, James Scurlock, and countless others. May you rest in peace and power.

With love and rage,

Third Wave Fund

1st image description: Artwork by Monica Trinidad. The words “Defend our Communities” are above an illustrated image of two people on opposite sides breaking handcuffs in front of a femme presenting person standing with their fist up and another person holding up a chancla (Spanish word for sandal) very defiantly. There are crumbling bricks at their feet and the words “Defund the Police” at the bottom.

2nd image description: Artwork by Tesh Silver. An illustration of purple and redish hues make up the background, along with a white outline of a flame illuminated by the red hues. The words Black Lives Matter appear over in Black text over everything.

3rd image description: Artwork by Jose (Lupe) Ortiz. On a purple illustrated background, the words 'Las Vidas Negras Importan!', spanish for 'Black Lives Matter' are in bold black text with bright yellow outline. Two silhouettes of people are standing on each side of the image, with their fists raised high.

4th image description: Artwork by Sierra Clark. On a brown background, an illustration of a woman with a big, curly afro stands with eyes closed. The words "Black Lives Matter" and "Support Black Life" are in her hair, and the words "Justice for George Floyd" are at the bottom by her chest.