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June 14, 2022

Accompanying Partners to Cultivate the Conditions for Enduring Peace and Freedom

Our new organizational strategy is a roadmap to deepen our relationships and be more proactively in service to our partners.

Humanity United was founded on the belief that we live in a deeply interconnected world in which we must work together to address the challenges and meet the opportunities we face. As we continue our journey toward fulfilling our mission to cultivate the conditions for enduring peace and freedom, I am excited to announce a new organizational strategy that articulates the elements of our approach. The organizational strategy does not change our vision, mission, or values. Rather, it helps to clarify what key conditions we focus on, how we do our work, and how we seek to be in relationship with our grantees and partners.

I know that a new organizational strategy may elicit questions from our partners. I would emphasize that the organizational strategy was designed to incorporate our existing portfolio strategies, so the vast majority of our partnerships will remain the same. However, through this strategy, we now have an explicit roadmap to deepen our relationships and be more proactively in service to our partners. It also deepens our commitment to be in greater communication with our partners, listening to their needs, and incorporating their feedback to improve our practices as a learning organization.

The organizational strategy is rooted in a set of strategic pillars that articulate how we do our work and how we seek to show up in relationship with ourselves, our partners, and the broader system. Specifically,

  1. We work through relationships and networks
  2. We practice a philosophy of “accompaniment”
  3. We are learning-focused, systems-enabled, and people-centered
  4. We are expansive in our efforts, offering more than financial support
  5. We invest internally so we can grow together with our partners

We are making a commitment to adopt a trust-based approach that honors the lived experience and agency of those closest to the issues we seek to address. Underlying the new organizational strategy is a set of core beliefs about the system we are trying to change and our role within that system. These include the belief that enduring change happens when those who are closest to the issues have the agency to act, and that we at HU are most effective when we play a dual role—shifting power by supporting the agency of those most impacted and holding powerful institutions accountable and advocating for structural change.

We are also choosing to practice “accompaniment” in our efforts. Rooted in the work of John Paul Lederach, Paul Farmer, and others, we see accompaniment as a long-term commitment to walking alongside partners in a way that reinforces their expertise, capacity, and power. The approach seeks to elevate the agency of those closest to the context and is a pivot away from philanthropy’s traditional lens of “helping,” “fixing,” or “solving problems.” By operating in accompaniment, we enter and maintain relationships that help cultivate the conditions for community-driven change. Although many of us at HU have been operating in this way for some time, moving forward, we are committing to this practice as an organization.

The strategy includes a focus on three conditions we believe are necessary for peace and freedom that cut across all our program areas: Agency, Accountable and Responsive Institutions, and Recognition of Shared Humanity. These can of course adapt and change as we learn from our ongoing work, but it was important for us, in the spirit of transparency and shared accountability, to articulate where our specific focus lies at the moment.

We are now entering our fifteenth year of existence as an organization. The last few years have seen an organization-wide commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice; the articulation of our portfolio-level strategies; and now the new organizational strategy. I believe each of these is bringing us a a step closer to being who we need to be in order to fulfill our mission to cultivate the conditions for enduring peace and freedom. I feel incredibly fortunate to be along for the ride. I invite our partners to continue to give us your trust so we can walk alongside you in this journey.

To learn more about our work and approach, read our Organizational Strategy.

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