Transformative Philanthropy – Giving with Trust is a book about privilege, power, and access. Together with co-authors Justus Eisfeld and Claudia Bollwinkel, Ise Bosch reflects on ten years of holistic grant making and impact investments by Dreilinden gGmbH, while also providing an in-depth look at her own method of transformative philanthropy. The book is illustrated with photographs by Muholi, a South African artist who has received worldwide attention for their artwork and activism.
The book features the voices of cooperation partners and participants of the projects backed by Dreilinden ‒ precisely the people who have personal experience of Bosch’s approach to supporting social movements around the world.
Her book offers a new view on philanthropy and its possibilities for impact. This is how Bosch describes her vision: “I would like to see more people working together, including those with more and with less power. I would like there to be more bridges, and hopefully once again more egalitarian societies. This is why I say ‘yes’ to the power that is available to me – while I am not saying ‘yes’ to the exclusion of others from power.”
How can money and the privilege associated with it be used to bring about profound social change? In the face of growing public criticism of social inequality, philanthropy – itself a product of social inequality – can assert its relevance through enlightened cooperation with marginalized groups.
Dreilinden gGmbH champions the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, and queer people. Bosch is convinced that “Societies become more humane and stronger when gender roles are less strictly binary and less hierarchical.” According to a recent impact analysis, 86 percent of projects supported by Dreilinden indicate a sustainable strengthening of their structures and resulting power shifts in favor of the communities served locally. Some 82 percent state that Dreilinden supports new lines of work that previously did not exist.
How does this come about? Transformative philanthropy turns the power of money into creative and decision-making power for many. It questions mechanisms of inequality and respects the expertise of people in the field. The donors are part of the process in direct contact with the supported groups. Transformative philanthropy specifically supports young projects, it invests in organizational structures, offers flexibility in the way the money is used, commits to the long term, and keeps paperwork to a minimum. The power of money operates in favor of the local groups’ social innovation. Their actions take center stage, not the capital provided. This way, assets are invested in a more equal and more humane world with a special kind of efficiency.
How to get started? “Find one topic. Mine came to me from life experience ‒ and everyone has life experience. Once you have your topic, go out and find one or two or three or four organizations working in that area. Get to know them well, stick with the best ones for the long term. If you keep doing that for a few years, there’s a fair chance that you will have experienced some successes, that you’ll have learned lots, and found friends. And that you’ve truly been of help.” Ise Bosch
“Bosch’s thinking will resonate with anyone looking to transform the way they think about themselves, power, and their giving. She shares her compelling personal journey, and in so doing convincingly illustrates how one person can make a huge difference working collaboratively with others. Combining vision, thoughtful risk taking, and practical guidance, Bosch shows us how trust is a much-needed bridge between and among individuals, institutions, and movements. Her unassuming leadership gifts us with a pathway to a truly transformative philanthropy.”
Katherine Acey, lesbian feminist, human rights activist and philanthropist
“This book about the work of Ise Bosch and Dreilinden shows that philanthropy in the social justice and international human rights movements can have a decisive impact, drawing attention to those people and those issues that are all too frequently ignored or forgotten.”
Carolin Emcke, author and journalist, winner of the 2016 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
Transformative Philanthropy – Giving with Trust
Ise Bosch, Justus Eisfeld, Claudia Bollwinkel, Berlin, July 2018
Dreilinden gGmbH / Communications
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Ise Bosch, a member of the LGBTQI community, knows about the struggles and lived realities in this field from personal experience. She has an insider’s view. “Why the strict distinction between ‘men’ and ‘women’,” she asks, “why the inequality? This forces power structures upon us, and is a main source of violence and poverty in the world.”
Ise Bosch grew up privileged and learned early on that money and power are connected to responsibility. To motivate other wealthy people to take their own philanthropic steps, Ise Bosch paints a picture for giving well in her book Donating Better! (Besser Spenden!). She describes how to find out which topics are closest to one’s heart. In her point of view, such a strong personal motivation is necessary to trust in the development of one’s philanthropic field. The creation of a society where people of diverse genders, identities, and attractions can live together, and where power is distributed more equally is what Ise Bosch is aiming for. She uses Dreilinden to bring private capital to these charitable causes. “Societies become more humane and stronger when gender roles are less strictly binary and less hierarchical.” As early as 1996, Ise Bosch became the founding donor to the International Fund for Sexual Minorities at the New York-based Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, worldwide the only community foundation focusing explicitly on lesbian issues. Today, Astraea is one of the leading LGBTQI human rights funders, supporting more than 500 groups in 99 countries internationally.
Together with eight other women, Ise Bosch founded the German women’s community foundation, filia.die frauenstiftung. Here, money, ideas, and projects with a feminist focus are pooled under the premise of “Change not Charity”. “It is an easy and direct way to invest money in the women’s movement,” says Ise Bosch.
Even today, women experience a major inheritance quite differently from men. The Pecunia network for women with inherited wealth, co-initiated by Ise Bosch in 2003, provides a platform to connect personally, and to support each other in finding meaningful ways to use their inheritance. The book Women Inheritors Taking Responsibility (Wir Erbinnen – Frauen übernehmen Verantwortung) was published in this context in 2016.