Connections in Humanist Giving


Over the years, Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Giving program has transformed, most notably when we went from featuring 10 beneficiaries each quarter to selecting five beneficiaries. This action did not limit the number of charities that could become beneficiaries; instead, it recognized that many categories overlap.

Charities and potential beneficiaries occasionally fit neatly into one of our category boxes. LightHawk, a former Natural World beneficiary, provides small plane support to natural world organizations to conduct research, giving them an aerial view of their research areas and supporting them in numerous ways. LightHawk is an innovative beneficiary that fit nicely into the Natural World box.

Belize coral reef by Tony Rath Other times, charities mimic a web rather than a container. The need that is identified by the beneficiary or charity isn’t built based on our beneficiary categories. An example, which also applies to our Natural World category, is former beneficiary Greening of Detroit. While most of their programs focus on the planting of trees and working to control storm water runoff into Detroit waterways, another key aspect of their programming is designed to create employment opportunities for local residents and provide educational opportunities for children. This program, while receiving our beneficiary grant in the Natural World category, has a web that connects to both the Poverty and Health and Education categories.

CF during a planting demonstration I When an organization’s programing web extends beyond our beneficiary categories, this is not a problem, but an asset.

Our first Compassionate Impact Grant is another example of how a program fits a web model versus the box model. The program we are funding, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative’s Fair Chance for Family Success, employs local residents to reach out to their neighbors to create accountable groups in which people in a variety of households set their own goals to reach their vision of success. This vision can be economic success and educational opportunities. The project can fit in multiple beneficiary categories based on the web vision.

The beneficiary categories are strong and give Humanist Giving a clear vision of where to direct our selection efforts, but those efforts will always include potential beneficiaries that create connections between our beneficiary categories or fit neatly within the box in one beneficiary category.

Both have success, and both models are used by our staff to find the best beneficiary for each category every quarter.