SURF

Jenny Cooper

Foundation Funding and the Effects of Donor-Driven Community Projects in the United States

The U.S. government budget cuts of the 1980s and the international financial institutions economic policies of the late 1980s and 1990s crippled government-run social services in the U.S. and across the Third World. To fill the void left by the defunct government services there has been an unprecedented rise in the number of non-profit and community organizations in the U.S. and abroad. This begs numerous questions: To whom are these organizations accountable? From where does funding come? Who is deciding which projects get financial priority? My research attempts to understand how/if funding opportunities shape the missions and philosophies of secular civil society organizations, and how those relations, in turn, affect the ability of community organizations to address the needs of the communities they serve. I will be focusing on Seattle-based community organizations and foundations as a case study for how these relations play out in the U.S.

Message to Sponsor

While I was living in Mali (Spring 2007) I interacted with many NGOs and development organizations, most of which didnt translate their work into local languages and often left the local people out of the organizing process. When I returned to the U.S., this question of the effects of donor-driven development resonated strongly with me as I reflected on my fundraising experiences and the various concessions I had made in order to please, appease, or lure potential funders. In combining these international and domestic experiences with my coursework at Cal, I came to wonder how these issues of donor-driven projects play out in the U.S. With SURF funding I have the opportunity to sate my intellectual curiosity while conducting original researchan opportunity that I am incredibly grateful for and excited about!
  • Major: Geography
  • Mentor: Nathan Sayre, Geography