What's New at Foundation Center Update (September)

September 22, 2018

FC_logoHurricane season is upon us, and we'll be regularly sharing data here on PND with you about where funding for rebuilding is going. Grace Sato from our knowledge services team will also be speaking about disaster funding along with special guests from philanthropy on Tony Martignetti's radio show later this month. We've been working on sharing data and knowledge about other timely topics as well:

Projects Launched

  • We released a new report, The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations: 2011-2015. The report is the latest in a decades-long collaboration between Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations focused on analyzing trends in international grantmaking by U.S. foundations and is the tenth jointly published report since the collaboration began in 1997. In addition to a detailed look at trends by issue area, geographic region, population group, and donor strategy, the analysis also relates these trends to key events and developments, including the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals campaign, the emergence of Ebola in West Africa, repeal of the global gag rule, and the increasing legal restrictions faced by civil society organizations in countries around the world. Check out features in FastCompany and Alliance magazine, and this Slate Money podcast!)
  • Just in time for the midterms, our Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy site has a new look, making it easier to navigate from the funding tool to the IssueLab research collection to a collection of infographics. Check it out at foundationcenter.org.
  • It's Nonprofit Radio Month! The third episode of Nonprofit Radio Month at Foundation Center aired September 21 and was focused on building relationships with family foundations. The episode features Tony Martignetti in conversation with our most popular fundraising expert, Senior Social Sector Librarian Susan Shiroma; Stuart Post, executive director of the Meringoff Family Foundation; and a Meringoff Foundation grantee, Read Alliance executive director Danielle Guindo. Check it out, and join us every Friday in September from 1:00-2:00 pm ET for more Nonprofit Radio.
  • Foundation Center Northeast (NY) will host Arts Month in October, featuring a variety of panels, programs, and networking opportunities for artists and arts organizations.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Our president, Brad Smith, was named to the 2018 NPT Power & Influence Top 50.
  • CF Insights has launched a new publication on CEO professional development.
  • Foundation Center has a robust portfolio of custom training for organizations (and/or grantees of foundations). Now is the time to invest in building the capacity of your staff/grantees. Email us at fctraining@foundationcenter.org for more info.
  • On September 25, in partnership with GlobalGiving and GuideStar, Foundation Center will launch BRIDGE (Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities) information as open data, making it easier to identify and share information on social sector entities around the world.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 158,719 new grants added to Foundation Maps in August, of which 17,063 grants were made to 2,059 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Update Central is back in Foundation Directory Online Professional! Register for monthly alerts to ensure you're up-to-date on grantmaker leadership changes and new foundations.
  • New data-sharing partners: Bennelong Foundation; Buhl Regional Health Foundation; Community Foundation for Monterey County; Connecticut Health Foundation, Inc.; English Family Foundation; LA84 Foundation; Light a Single Candle Foundation; Perpetual Trustees; SumOfUs; Woodward Hines Education Foundation; and Wyoming Community Foundation. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.
  • Eighteen new organizations have joined our Funding Information Network in 2018, including the Puerto Rico Science Technology and Research Trust, First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, and the Roswell Public Library in Georgia.

Data Spotlight

  • As the country gears up for the midterms, we're looking at who's funding U.S. democracy. Did you know that more than 3,000 funders have made grants totaling $1.7 billion in support of civic participation? Learn more at foundationcenter.org.
  • Funders have granted nearly $400,000 in 2018 to organizations working in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. Learn more about funding for this region at equal-footing.org.
  • We completed custom data searches for the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership and the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email. (And I'm curious: Did you read through to the end? If you did, tweet your favorite Foundation Center resource to @fdncenter with the hashtag #FCLove and you’ll be entered to win some swag!) I'll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

Achieving Racial Equity Through Cross-Sector Partnerships

September 20, 2018

Peopleincircle600Mitch Landrieu, the former Mayor of New Orleans and recipient of the 2018 JFK Profiles in Courage Award for his decision to remove four Confederate monuments from that city, noted on accepting the award that "[c]enturies-old wounds are still raw because they were not healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth. We are better together than we are apart."

Historically, the failure to increase fairness and equity in America through cross- sector collaboration and public-private partnerships represents a complete failure at the "systems level." Fifty years of effort by government, educational and advocacy groups, corporate diversity programs, and consultants, not to mention intense media focus on the issue, have failed to make a substantial impact.

The fact is, tackling racial equity is hard, the structural and policy issues complex. As an African American, the issues of income inequality and progress on the corporate diversity front are of keen interest to me. Seeking to answer the question "What does good enough look like?", I recently spoke with more than two dozen leaders from the nonprofit, government, and business sectors and discovered that there is broad consensus that much more needs to be done to address racial inequity in America.

Public-private partnerships that pool resources and expertise and facilitate broad community support are one way to do that. The decision by Congress to include, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, $1.6 billion in tax incentives over the next ten years to create Opportunity Zones for private investment in distressed communities is the latest attempt. While the social sector is slowly coming around to the idea that the private sector can be a force good, however, new "playbooks" are required if we hope to see meaningful change.

Unfortunately, the racial inequality debate too often resembles the debate over climate change. Most people concede that the long-term consequences of leaving the problem unaddressed would be devastating, but getting people to agree on the root causes of the problem is impossible. Despite overwhelming evidence of continued discriminatory practices in education, health care, housing, hiring, and the criminal justice system, not to mention the emergence of a field of study focused on the psychology of racial bias, many Americans remain in denial. In fact, in some areas, the data suggest that the problems of discrimination and racial bias are getting worse.

Economic Impacts

In a joint study entitled "The Competitive Advantages of Racial Equity" (32 pages, PDF), FSG and PolicyLink estimated that the elimination of racial wage gaps in the U.S. economy would boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $2 trillion, or 14 percent. In other words, sticking with the status quo represents a huge cost to society.

Similarly, the 2018 edition of the National Urban League’s "State of Black America" report includes an "Equality Index" that measures the status of blacks compared to whites. On a scale of 1 to 100, the 2018 index finds that blacks on average capture 72.5 percent of the American economic pie (compared to 100 percent for whites), earn 58 percent of what whites earn, and have 4 percent of the wealth that whites have.

Other sources corroborate NUL's findings. One of them, a multi-decade analysis of black-white wage inequality and labor participation rates by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, found that a large percentage of the black-white earnings gap is not due to education or geographic location but, instead, is "unexplained."

Fig. 1.1: Components of Black-White Earnings Gap

Fig1.1_Earnings-Gap
Fig. 1.1_Earnings-GapB

Without strong networks in place, many community-based programs have consistently failed to close these gaps, even as local grassroots efforts struggle with funding options that, all too often, are focused on the short term, unconnected to larger national efforts, and burdened with significant reporting requirements. Not a formula for success.

Yes, various movements have raised awareness of these issues, but they have been less successful, at least so far, in effectuating real change. Movements such as #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, and #NeverAgain have enlisted participants from multiple socioeconomic groups and economic sectors, but, as Donald Tomaskovic-Dewey, professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Center for Employment Equity, has observed, they are "not so good at practice shifts at an institutional level." Intentionality, collaboration, mission alignment, and joint planning are the best way to achieve our goals in this area.

Case Studies

Through its Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) initiative, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation seeks to encourage conversation among different racial groups with the goal of bringing about transformational and sustainable change. Currently supporting programs in fourteen cites, the initiative teaches participants how to have productive discussions about race that foster mutual understanding. With the goal of strengthening its local economy, one of Kellogg's partners in the initiative, the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, has enlisted more than two hundred community-based partners to promote the importance of racial equity in four key areas:

  1. Education and Job Readiness
  2. Criminal Justice & Safety
  3. Quality of Life & Neighborhoods
  4. Income & Wealth

According to CFGB, the regional economy stands to gain more than $1 billion in annual GDP as a result of these initiatives. And by engaging multiple community groups, real progress is being made in high school graduation and employment rates.

Racial equity is an issue for every region of the country, not just western New York. Take the San Francisco Bay area. In his highly acclaimed book, The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein describes how housing segregation patterns driven by government policy since the 1940 still impact communities in the Bay Area. It's not just the South, with its history of slavery and Jim Crow, that enacted laws and policies aimed at preserving discriminatory practices and de jure segregation of the races.

On Capitol Hill recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Congressional Black Caucus staff about their Tech 2020 initiative, which is designed to put a spotlight on much-needed efforts to increase diversity in Silicon Valley's tech industry. Reminiscent of the 1977 Sullivan Principles that addressed apartheid in South Africa, the initiative's S.M.A.R.T. Principles outline the following priorities:

  1. STEAM education and job training
  2. Make tech available and affordable
  3. Address the economic stability of communities
  4. Recruit and retain black talent
  5. Target investment capital in diverse companies and communities

All are admirable, but they will require the active support and participation of a variety of governmental, corporate, and nonprofit entities if they are to be fully realized. Acronyms not backed by effective, coordinated action do not work. To be clear, when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, there are lots of nonprofits in America that model best practices. Understanding their role within the larger ecosystem is important. At the same time, funders must provide sustainable funding in support of broad, coalition-building activities.

Funding for Racial Equity

In 2018 report on The Financial Health of the United States Nonprofit Sector (28 pages, PDF), Guidestar, a leading information provider on the sector, notes that most nonprofits are small. Of the more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S., two-thirds have a budget of less than $1 million, accounting for only 2 percent of sector total spending. In contrast, only 2 percent of nonprofits have a budget of $50 million or more, representing 80 percent of total spending. Alarmingly, the report also found that more than half of the nonprofits in the U.S. have less than a month of operating reserves.

BoardSource, the leading provider of nonprofit board support and training in the U.S., reports that lack of diversity in hiring and board representation are key reasons why more funding does not go to programs targeting minority groups. Make no mistake: funders have a critical role to play in encouraging and supporting diversity and inclusion. Underfunding overhead costs, viewing diversity initiatives as too "niche" or risky, overly burdensome grant application processes, and a tendency to favor siloed projects have been counter-productive to the cause in the past and continue to be.

In its Quantifying Hope report (36 pages, PDF), Foundation Center estimates total giving targeting black men and boys for the period 2005-2014 at $334 million. In an interview, Chris Cardona, program officer in philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, told me that Ford had committed $1 billion over five years through its BUILD initiative worldwide to organizations and networks seeking to disrupt the drivers of inequality, including discrimination based on identity and cultural narratives that undermine fairness and inclusion. To leverage that commitment, Ford recently partnered with the Kellogg Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy to create a collaborative fund focused on advancing racial equity in the sector.

An area that requires additional research, however, is overall spending targeting DE&I and racial equity initiatives. Rough estimates range from $2 billion to $4 billion, or 1 percent of overall foundation spending. Clearly, that's not enough investment to address widespread racial inequality in America. (To put it into context, Politifact and Brown University estimate the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the period 2001 -2017 at $6 trillion to $7.9 trillion, including interest.)

Can Technology Help?

Transformative, disruptive innovations in technology are changing the way every sector of the economy works. Rob Acker, CEO of Salesforce.org, describes what we are experiencing as the "4th Industrial Revolution." The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and robotics are just a few of the emerging technologies that are going to fundamentally reshape society and our world. New cloud-based tools enable nonprofits to manage relationships with clients, donors, and volunteers and keep track of their progress in real-time. Indeed, in a Harvard Business Review article, United Way CEO Brian Gallagher offers a compelling case for shifting his organization's century-old business model and, in partnership with Salesforce, focusing on direct relationships with individual donors and volunteers.

Elsewhere, FiscalNote is an early innovator in the area of issues management, making it easy for nonprofits to automate the gathering of information related to legislative activities at the local, state, and national levels. With that information, advocacy groups can develop new strategies based on the success of local initiatives and share that information nationally, while predictive analytics provide insights on the likely success of proposed legislation. The importance of government policy reform, at all levels, cannot be overstated, and issue management tools created by the likes of FiscalNote are likely to play an increasingly important role in the racial equity conversation.

Conclusion

Racial equity discussions generate a good deal of passion and can be uncomfortable. At the same time, unconscious bias in the workplace often influences key decisions. Well aware of those facts, many organizations are investing in racial/gender bias training. I'm fortunate to live in the Washington, DC, area, where regular visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian are powerful reminders of this country's long history of racism.

We should not assume that all Americans know that history, and it is critical that we establish a common fact base and language around it. Local grassroots organizations often understand the needs of their communities better than funders and corporations. Senior leaders have a critical role to play in driving cultural change; their input is vital. Equity in the Center's Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture (38 pages, PDF) is an excellent place to start.

The expectation that one will be treated fairly is a fundamental tenet of the American creed. As Mitch Landrieu so eloquently pointed out, the root causes of structural racial inequality go back centuries, and institutional and systemic change are tough. With only three African Americans and twenty-five women counted among the CEOs of the Fortune 500, progress on the diversity in corporate America has been a slow train coming.

The S.M.A.R.T. principles outlined by the Congressional Black Caucus provide a good starting point. But such principles are useful only if buttressed by aspirational social movements that help push us to think and behave differently. There is no need to repeat past mistakes: racial reconciliation is a key enabler of economic opportunity and growth.

Headshot_michael_geeThe urgency to act before structural racism further destabilizes society and the economy has never been greater. It's time we get this right.

Michael Gee is a graduate of Boston College and the Columbia Business School and the proud father of two sons, both college grads. Previous articles on corporate diversity by Michael have appeared in the Harvard Business Review.

A Conversation With Dee Baecher-Brown, President, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

September 18, 2018

Scenes of catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Florence are a painful reminder of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, one of the deadliest and most destructive on record. After an earlier-than-usual start, the season took a turn for the worst in August when Harvey became the first major hurricane since 2005 to make landfall in the U.S., submerging large swaths of the Houston metro area and southeastern Texas. Then, in September, Irma became the first Category 5 hurricane to impact the northern Leeward Islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Barbuda, which was flattened, before making landfall in the Florida keys with sustained winds of 130 mph. A few weeks later, Maria became the first Category 5 hurricane on record to strike the island of Dominica, causing catastrophic damage there, before striking Puerto Rico and leaving that U.S. territory a shambles.

Recently, PND spoke with Dee Baecher-Brown, president of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, about the progress made in the year since Irma and Maria pummeled the islands and what donors in a disaster situation can do to balance the urgency of immediate needs with longer-term recovery goals and objectives. A full accounting of the donors who stepped up to help the Virgin Islands in the wake of the hurricanes will be included in CFVI's year-end report.

Headshot_dee_beacher-brownPhilanthropy News Digest: It's been a year since Hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled the Virgin Islands. Now we’re watching as Florence, another powerful Atlantic hurricane, brings catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas. What are your thoughts as you watch footage of the destruction and displacement caused by Florence?

Dee Baecher-Brown: My first thought is concern. Many of our friends and family are in harm's way, and we're hoping for the best. We don't want anyone to have to experience what the Virgin Islands experienced with Irma and Maria. As the extent of the damage caused by the storm becomes clearer, we just want the folks in the Carolinas to know that we are there for them, because we know firsthand what a difference the outpouring of concern and support in the days immediately following those storms meant to us.

PND: Take us back to weeks just before Irma and Maria hit the Virgin Islands. Was your community as prepared as it could have been?

DBB: You know, that's something we've discussed many times over the course of the last twelve months. Obviously, two category 5 storms in a two-week period was unprecedented, and even though we got a little tired of that word, it does capture something people sometimes forget — namely, that it's hard to prepare for something that hasn't happened before. And the fact that we are small, fairly remote islands in the Caribbean didn't help matters.

That said, I felt CFVI was as prepared as we could have been. We had spent the last twenty-five years supporting the thoughtful, gradual growth of our community, and in terms of our own capacity we had arrived at a point where we had solid financial systems in place and were working with an amazing network of community organizations — organizations that, in my opinion, were key to our being able to help after the storms hit. In September, for example, just days after Maria hit, we were already making grants to our partners, and we were able to do that because we knew who was out there, we knew the kind of work they would be doing, and we knew they needed our support. So, yes, I felt we were as ready as we could be for something that had never happened before.

PND: What were the most acute, immediate needs in your community?

DBB: I would say the most critical immediate need was shelter. Tropical storms aren't always followed by sunny days. After Irma, there were days of rain, and people whose homes had been damaged or destroyed needed to find safe places to shelter. They needed potable water. They needed food. Many people needed health care. Our three major healthcare facilities, one on each of our islands, were severely damaged. Reestablishing communications also was critical. Reestablishing cellphone service made a huge difference in enabling first responders to get to people who needed help.

It was also important to be mindful of the trauma that individuals had just suffered, particularly children. Let me just say that we were honored to be part of a community where there was so much caring for others. It restores your faith in humanity.

PND: Were you satisfied with the response of the federal government and private philanthropy?

DBB: Well, we certainly had a lot of support. The response from the philanthropic community was pretty great. Philanthropies that had worked with us in the past, foundations like the Annie E. Casey Foundation with KIDS COUNT and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which had been a major supporter of our ongoing work in the territory, were there for us immediately. And we had some new partners, philanthropies that had not been involved in the Virgin Islands before but did outreach to CFVI to find out how they could help. The New York Federal Reserve also did major outreach to us immediately after the storms, getting in touch with the territorial government and asking how it could help. Then it flew teams of experts down to help us think through the recovery.

Again, I go back to my description of what happened as "unprecedented," and what we could rightfully expect from our partners. In most cases people did the best they could, and our community was deeply appreciative.

PND: What advice would you give to foundations, corporations, and generous Americans who want to help people who have been affected by a disaster like Irma or Maria or Florence?

DBB: One thing I would say is look to the local community foundation. Most communities have one, and in most cases no one knows a community better than its community foundation. One of the reasons CFVI was so successful in our fundraising was that other community foundations across the country were telling their donors to give to us because we were the ones with partners on the ground who would be able to act quickly and get help to those who needed it most.

Second, while I would encourage people to reach out immediately, because help is needed immediately, I would also advise them to be patient, because in most cases a community that has been affected by a disaster needs time to assess how the help it receives from outside can best be used. So it's a combination of rushing to meet immediate needs, and waiting and being patient so that you're offering help in a way that can be used to greatest effect.

PND: In addition to the timing of support, how important is the nature of the support? In other words, Is cash always the best thing to give?

DBB: You know, I don't believe cash is always best. In our situation, for example, we had neighbors on St. Croix who were actually up and running after the first storm and were able to get critically needed supplies to St. Thomas and to St. John — things like water, food, and generators. That was critical. But as time passed, it became less clear what the immediate needs were. And at that point, having donors who were willing to either give money directly or take a step back and listen to the community to understand where the gaps were made it much easier to be effective. The last thing you want is to have donations given out of the kindness of people’s hearts not be used in the best way possible. That's really the challenge for people who want to help: knowing what's actually needed at any given point in time.

— Mitch Nauffts

Tracking Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief

September 15, 2018

Updated: September 21, 2018 - 4:00 PM ET

After churning across the mid-Atlantic as a major Category 3/4 hurricane, Florence weakened as it neared the U.S. mainland, finally making landfall early Friday morning as a Cat 1, with sustained winds of 100 mph, near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. With a storm surge of more then ten feet reported in some areas of the state, the still-powerful, slow-moving storm was expected to drop biblical amounts of rain and cause extensive flooding across the Carolinas over the weekend. As of Saturday afternoon, Bloomberg was reporting that the storm had already dropped two feet of rain across southeastern North Carolina, "submerging cities...and threatening the large and environmentally precarious hog industry," while knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of people in both North and South Carolina. As of Tuesday morning, the death toll from the storm was thirty-two.

Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy will be tracking the private institutional response to Florence over the coming days and will post updated totals, dashboard style, here on PhilanTopic. If you have questions about methodology or sources, or would like to make sure your organization's contribution has been included in the total, please contact Andrew Grabois, manager of corporate philanthropy at Foundation Center.

Florence-from-space

(Photo credit: Reuters)

TOTAL: $33,986,000

Organization Type (pledges and commitments)

Corporate Direct Giving/
Company-Sponsored Foundations
$27,995,000 35 orgs.
Private Foundations $2,250,000 3 orgs.
Public Charities $3,741,000 5 orgs.

Top Recipients (Total Received to Date)

1. Unknown Recipient(s) $12,280,000
2. American Red Cross $6,735,000
3. Hurricane Florence Response Fund
(Foundation for the Carolinas)
$5,000,000
4. WE Care Fund
(Wells Fargo employee assistance fund)
$3,000,000
5. North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund $1,100,000
6. Feeding the Carolinas $1,000,000
7. Good360 $1,000,000
8. United Way $625,000
9. Salvation Army $600,000
10. ONE SC Fund
(Central Carolina Community Foundation)
$500,000

Source: Foundation Center & Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Download the Data

For the latest coverage of the philanthropic sector's response to
Hurricane Florence, check out Philanthropy News Digest.

'The House on Henry Street' Exhibition (Part 2)

September 13, 2018

Yesterday, in the first installment of a two-part series, Kathryn Pyle explained how the new "House on Henry Street" exhibition came about. In part two, she talks to the people behind the project about the unique challenges they faced in trying to distill a hundred years of social work and history into a cohesive experience.

HSS_Intro panel"Given our limited resources and the small space, we realized that any attempt to describe the significance of Henry Street Settlement in the late nineteenth century and show its relevance to our time meant that it had to be a multi-platform project," historian and curator Ellen Snyder-Grenier told me when I met with her earlier this summer. "On-site displays of artifacts and text could only tell a limited story. We decided that short films could round out the history and a website could expand the exhibit, breaking down temporal and space limitations."

Keith Ragone, the exhibit designer, recommended creating a 450-square-foot gallery from two smaller rooms on the first floor of the agency’s original townhouse and then "extending" that physical space through the clever device of having two windows looking out onto a late-nineteenth-century streetscape.

Ragone and his collaborators were familiar with the extensive trove of still photographs from that era and selected a number for the exhibit and website, but they also wanted to incorporate moving images into the display. Snyder-Grenier's research led her to the Edison Company films collection at the Library of Congress.

"I was flabbergasted by the extent and scope of the collection," she told me. When she discovered the three-minute film New York City 'ghetto’ fish market, she knew she had found the key element for their "view from the windows."

Another surprise was the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Film Collection, a digitized archive housed at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. The collection includes two hundred VNS promotional films, the earliest made in 1924. Lillian Wald herself appears in one from 1927; it’s in the exhibit and is embedded in a graphic timeline on the website that takes the visitor from the 1910s into the twenty-first century.

Cantos/ New Dances (1957) is a short film featuring the work of choreographer Alwin Nikolais, who established his dance company at the Henry Street Playhouse, later named the Abrons Art Center. Nikolais served for two decades as the artistic director of the center.

"Culture and the arts have been important from the beginning, and the Abrons Art Center has presented some of the most influential artists of our times," said Susan LaRosa, a marketing and communications officer at Henry Street for the past eleven years. "It was important that we acknowledge that, and the Nikolais film highlights one of our pivotal figures."

Another short film, commissioned for the exhibition, Baptism of Fire, tells the story of Henry Street, its place in the social reform movement, and of Wald herself, who saw health care as a right and established the model of visiting nurses in response to the dire conditions that prevailed on the Lower East Side in the early part of the twentieth century. Wald went out of her way to celebrate the distinct cultures of different immigrant groups, rather than trying to force on them an "American" identity, and was also a suffragette, helped found the National Women's Trade Union League and the NAACP, and involved herself in many other progressive issues.

"We wanted to create an atmosphere in the exhibit that would take visitors back to that era but at the same time reduce the distance between past and present," said Snyder-Grenier. "The films help create a more visceral connection to the past and convey a sense that these were real people. They also help to bridge differences in a way that Lillian Wald would have appreciated."

In addition to film, the team considered using other interactive digital tools. But cost and space were limiting factors, and, as exhibit designers have learned since digital tools became widely available, sometimes less is more.

"It's difficult to pack lots of screens and interactive tools into a small space," said Snyder-Grenier. "Plus there would be an issue of competing sounds. We wanted to create an ambience related to the outside world of the Lower East Side in the front gallery section, and to the inside, domestic world of the settlement in the second gallery area, showing all the people who have created and sustained Henry Street Settlement. So even with more funding we wouldn’t have added more digital tools or material objects. The space itself, with the original fireplace and baking oven from its time as a tenement residence, is already an artifact!"

LaRosa agreed. "The exhibition will bring the humanities, in addition to our services and programs, to our broad constituency. People will learn about their roots, their history. The exhibition, with all its varied components in the gallery and in the community, will make people think. It adds another dimension to what we do."

After my initial conversation with LaRosa this spring, I decided to visit the nearby Tenement Museum to learn more about the era depicted in the exhibit. I selected the "Sweatshop" tour, which takes visitors to a turn-of-the-century Jewish family's tenement apartment, replicated in minute detail. Somewhat unbelievably, the small living space at one time also functioned as a workplace, with the family producing piecework for the city's burgeoning garment industry. According to the Museum at Eldridge Street Synagogue, the vast majority of Jewish immigrants to the U.S. at the turn of the century, most of them from Eastern Europe and Russia, settled on the Lower East Side, making it, for a time, the most densely populated place on Earth.

Today, Henry Street Settlement, the Tenement Museum, and the Museum at Eldridge Street Synagogue honor that history while connecting it to the people who call the neighborhood home: the descendants of immigrants who came to America in the early twentieth century in search of a better life, as well as more recent arrivals from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and China (with Chinatown adjoining the traditional Lower East Side and supporting its own Museum of Chinese in America).

HSS_Work ExpandsDigital tools have enabled museums, historical sites, and cultural centers, in the U.S., and around the world, to share their collections and curated exhibits far beyond their walls while enriching the experience of visitors. "The House on Henry Street" project demonstrates what is possible when service and educational NGOs and their funders recognize and find ways to share the fundamental story at the heart of their ongoing work: how they have supported their communities over time and what history can teach us about how we got here.

"Now more than ever," Henry Street executive director David Garza told me, "we must be aware of our North Star on issues of social justice, inclusion, race, equality, and the welfare of the most vulnerable among us. Through this exhibit, our history serves as the ultimate point of reference in defining our values, not only as an organization but for society as well."

"The House on Henry Street" exhibition (free to the public) officially opens to the public September 17. Visitors to the museum-like exhibit at Henry Street Settlement (265 Henry Street) on New York City’s Lower East Side will see artifacts from the late 1800s, panels of photos and text tracking the agency's history, and the Edison film of nineteenth-century street life, which animates one wall. Visitors are welcome, Mondays through Fridays, 10:00 a.m.– 6:00 p.m. The exhibition website (www.TheHouseonHenryStreet.org), also scheduled to go live on September 17, invites virtual visitors on a walking tour and enables them to view images from the exhibit as well as excerpts of the films.

Kathryn Pyle is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. Check out her other posts here.

'The House on Henry Street' Exhibition (Part 1)

September 12, 2018

HHS_entrance signThe first time, eleven years ago, Susan LaRosa, then a new marketing officer, pulled opened a cabinet drawer in her office at Henry Street Settlement, she discovered some forgotten letters written by the agency's founder, Lillian Wald, and early twentieth-century New York City civic leaders Louis Abrons, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Jane Addams. The existence of the letters wasn't the surprise — LaRosa knew Wald had attracted many influential New Yorkers to her project. But the discovery made her wonder whether Henry Street's remarkable history was adequately preserved and what lessons that history might have for the present.

The questions her discovery sparked eventually proved to be the catalyst for a new exhibition, opening September 17, that explores the legacy of community through the story of a remarkable institution.

When I learned earlier this year about the upcoming exhibition and its designers' plans to include documentary films, a particular interest of mine, I decided to reach out to LaRosa to learn more about how the exhibition came to be.

Founded in 1893 by Lillian Wald, Henry Street Settlement, located on the Lower East Side of New York City, was one of hundreds of settlement houses that sprang up around the country in the late 1800s, primarily in cities with large, impoverished immigrant populations drawn by the huge demand for labor in a rapidly industrializing United States.

Settlement houses soon became a feature of the Progressive Era, a period of widespread social reform that understood poverty as primarily a social phenomenon rather than a failure of individual character — a distinction that continues to generate debate in our time. Settlement houses typically offered some combination of social services, recreation, education, job training, health care, and arts and culture, all geared toward helping lower-income working people, particularly immigrants, improve their living conditions and economic opportunities. There were once more than four hundred such houses around the country, and many still operate as community resource centers.

With its roots in Wald's original mission to provide visiting nurse services to the indigent on the Lower East Side, today's "Henry Street" serves sixty thousand people at seventeen neighborhood sites and thirty public schools with social services, education, and health care programs, and operates the Abrons Arts Center. A century ago, Wald mobilized support for the agency from wealthy supporters such as Abrons, whose family was among its first clients and whose descendants have continued their involvement with Henry Street up to the present.

"I soon realized the building was oozing with history," LaRosa told me recently as we sat in Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Park behind the Henry Street offices; the space includes a rain garden, part of the organization's green infrastructure program. "I kept finding things that seemed important to preserve and make accessible to the public. But we're a working social service agency, not a museum or historical society. We didn't have the staff time or budget to even pursue a book idea."

LaRosa couldn't get the notion of preserving Henry Street's history out of her head, however, and eventually she realized that a special program would be a nice fit with the agency’s 125th anniversary in 2018. She consulted with Sally Yerkovich, a nonprofit administrator who had worked at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and, with Yerkovich taking the lead, they developed a project inspired by people who, on a regular basis, have some connection to the history of the neighborhood and stop by looking for a tour of Henry Street and to learn more about the settlement house movement in general.

"When we decided to approach the NEH, our executive director, David Garza, was completely supportive," said LaRosa, who (with Yerkovich) dedicated a portion of her time to mobilizing the necessary human resources. The NEH approved a $40,000 planning grant, and the Sun Hill Foundation provided additional support in the form of a $20,000 grant. Ellen Snyder-Grenier, an historian and curator, and Keith Ragone, an exhibit designer, along with other experts and a panel of historians, signed on to the project.

"Even before we got the NEH grant, we began reaching out to our stakeholders, including ongoing funders like the Sun Hill Foundation," Garza told me. "These are relationships that go back decades, and there was an immediate expression of interest."

"The House on Henry Street" concentrates on the humanities aspect of Henry Street's work, engaging the surrounding community with materials in English, Spanish, and Chinese, as well as scholars interested in the Lower East Side, women’s issues, urban history, social work, and nursing.

With Snyder-Grenier, humanities scholars, media designers, and fabricators in place, NEH subsequently approved an implementation grant of $360,000 for a project manager, an exhibition designer, an evaluation expert, and a public historian. (The rest of the exhibition’s budget is still being raised.)

"The House on Henry Street" includes a permanent historical exhibit; an interactive website (www.TheHouseonHenryStreet.org); a walking tour; a series of public programs; a book; and other components. The public programs were launched this spring, while the other components will be rolled out over the next few months.

The permanent exhibit at 265 Henry Street, the organization's main office and its first headquarters, includes photos, film, artifacts, and interpretive text that tells the story of Lillian Wald and the creation of Henry Street Settlement within the larger context of the Progressive Era and the settlement house movement.

"The exhibit focuses primarily on the late 1800s and early 1900s, the period that best illuminates the factors that led to the settlement’s creation and the movement in general," Snyder-Grenier told me. "Our project scholars advised us on the various issues that surfaced in this time period: immigration, women's rights, labor, rising poverty, and more — as well as the history of the Lower East Side."

Created, as were the exhibition's media elements, by Bluecadet, "The House on Henry Street" website takes the exhibition beyond the townhouse and into the present, with photos, expository text, digital images of artifacts, and a curriculum for high school and college teachers. (The site also features a short commissioned film, Baptism of Fire, and several archival films.)

Based on extensive research and polling of current Henry Street clients, including seniors and ESL students, public historian Katie Vogel created the content for a mobile walking tour app featuring Henry Street Settlement locations and relevant neighborhood sites, enabling participants to learn about the history of Henry Street while learning more about a dynamic, modern social service agency.

The public component includes a series of lectures, discussions, food tastings, and other events, some of them organized in partnership with the nearby Tenement Museum and the Museum at Eldridge Street, while portraits of more than a hundred people who have had a special engagement with the agency are featured in "Humans of Henry Street," an informal series of photos, filmed interviews, and quoted material. Last but not least, a book (LaRosa's initial idea) will be published later this year and will include historical texts, images, and a bibliography for those interested in doing further research.

As LaRosa told me, the evolution of the project is a story of challenges, creativity, and choices.

The first challenge was figuring out how to focus the exhibition. There's a lot of history to tell, and not just about the origins of Henry Street. There's also the history of the Lower East Side, which in the late nineteenth century was home to immigrants from Germany and Ireland who, as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, were joined by legions of newcomers from Eastern and Southern Europe. And there’s the history of nursing, one of the very first professions open to women, and the critical role nurses played in the well-being of immigrant families; Lillian Wald herself was a nurse, and a pioneer in the field.

In the end, as I'll explain in my next post, the designers were able to do justice to all that history through the judicious use of twenty-first century exhibition tools and aesthetics. Stay tuned!

Kathryn Pyle is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. Check out her other posts here.

Impact Investing and Donor-Advised Funds

September 11, 2018

Inv.env.650pixAs interest in (and assets dedicated to) impact investing grows, institutional investors, foundations, and philanthropists alike are looking for an entry point into the rapidly growing field. At the same time, growing numbers of social entrepreneurs are looking to savvy investors and high-net-worth individuals as a potential source of funding.

Both groups have identified a compelling intersection of interests in the form of donor-advised funds (DAFs) that specialize in impact investment management and distribution. Charitable assets in donor-advised funds totaled $85 billion in 2017, and awareness of DAFs has grown significantly over the last five or six years. In fact, today there are three times as many donor-advised funds in the U.S. as there are private foundations.

While still just a fraction of the total, a handful of impact-focused donor-advised funds are seeking to bridge what Ayesha Khanna of the Points of Light Foundation calls "the pioneer gap" — by which she means a lack of funding for early-stage impact ventures, supply and distribution constraints, growing demand for expertise and new talent, and the role of partnerships as a lever for scale.

Thanks to the still-nascent but growing philanthropic impact infrastructure built by organizations such as RSF Social Finance, Tides Foundation, ImpactAssets, and others, savvy donors are finding it easier than ever to make impact investments in social enterprises and early-stage social entrepreneurs. Here are six things they are learning along the way:

DAFs can multiply the impact of their philanthropic dollars: Grants are a critical tool for social change, but once grant dollars are deployed, they are gone. Capital that is deployed to an impact investment — either as a loan, equity, or debt — has the potential to be redeployed to meet changing needs.

Donors appreciate that as investment gains are returned to a donor-advised fund, those gains can be recycled into future investments or deployed as grants.

It pays to leverage experience: With more and more impact funds and social enterprises springing up, it can be difficult for individuals to do adequate research and determine whether a given investment meets their financial and impact goals. That’s where an organization like ImpactAssets, which has built a multimillion-dollar portfolio of more than three hundred direct impact investments, comes in.

One helpful tool for donors looking to learn more about impact investing is the ImpactAssets 50, a free, annually updated list of fifty impact investing fund managers that can be filtered by asset class, theme, geography, asset, and third-party validation.

DAFs can eliminate the need for accredited investor/qualified purchaser status: Many private investments are limited to accredited or qualified investors — typically, investors with a net worth of more than $1 million, annual income of $200,000 ($300,000 if declared jointly with a spouse), or a general partner, executive officer, and/or director for an issuer of unregistered securities. However, donor-advised funds with assets exceeding $5 million are qualified and eligible to make impact investments for their donors. By pooling the investments of many donors, such funds can meet the overall investment requirements while lowering the minimum threshold for individual investors.

DAFs maximize efficiency: Donor-advised funds with a donor-directed custom investment program can handle all the significant and frequently cumbersome logistical and custody issues associated with privately held assets.

With private assets, transactions can involve extensive documentation involving term sheets, purchase agreements, and the like. Debt deals and revenue share agreements have to be monitored to determine whether the appropriate payments are being made. And when enterprises fail, workouts need to be arranged and agreed on, sometimes by multiple parties. In many instances, donor-advised funds are able to offer services such as document review, investment execution, conversions, monitoring, and audits.

DAFs also have a number of structural advantages. For example, the donor-advised fund sponsor typically handles all grantmaking and account management and ensures that all grants and investments are conducted in accordance with the law and best practices.

DAFs provide flexibility: Given that no one investment is right for all investors, donors often appreciate the fact that donor-advised funds have the flexibility to invest in a variety of vehicles and structures.

An early-stage enterprise may need a loan for working capital, for example, while another may need equity to get itself off the ground and a third may benefit from a revenue-share agreement. ImpactAssets has recommended an assortment of structures to its clients, including debt, equity, SAFE, convertible debt, revenue share, lines of credit, and social impact bonds.

DAFs can invest globally: Problems such as climate change and poverty cannot be tackled solely at the local or even national level. Many donor-advised funds have the capability to deploy investment and grant capital both domestically and internationally, however. Philanthropists who want to engage across different geographies often use donor-advised funds to deploy capital wherever it is needed to achieve their social and financial goals.

Headshot_sally_boulter_newIf we are to close the "pioneer gap" for social entrepreneurs and solve some of our biggest challenges, we need to use every tool in the financial toolkit. For those who are new to impact investing, a donor-advised fund can be a good place to start.

Sally Boulter is senior engagement officer at ImpactAssets.

Weekend Link Roundup (September 8-9, 2018)

September 09, 2018

6-500x500A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Economy

It's coming — whether we like it or not. Automation is likely to force a third of American workers  to switch occupational categories by 2030, write James Manyika, Manisha Shetty Gulati, and Emma Dorn in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, with the largest disruption occurring among middle-income workers without a college degree. "[U]nhampered by quarterly earnings calls or the voting cycle," philanthropy can — and will need — to step up. Mantika, Gulati, and Dorn suggest four areas where it can do so.

Education

In The New York Times Magazine, Sarah Mosle reports at length about the many challenges public school administrators face in "finding effective teachers, retaining them and helping those who need to get better."

In a photo essay in the same issue of the magazine, Brian Ulrich looks at the kinds of second jobs that teachers across the country are taking to make ends meet.

Why are many teachers forced to work second jobs? Could it be their wages are lower than ever? Sarah Holder reports for CityLab.

Global Health

On the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog, Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director of discovery and translational sciences in the foundation's Global Health Program, reflects on the launch, nearly fifteen years ago, and subsequent progress of the foundation's Grand Challenges initiative. 

Nonprofits

With summer a fading memory, Beth Kanter has a timely reminder about the causes and costs of lost productivity in nonprofit workplaces.

Continue reading »

An Update From the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

September 08, 2018

Irma_USVI_940x627After a quiet start, the 2018 hurricane season is heating up, with Florence drawing a bead on the Carolinas and two other systems farther out in the Atlantic gaining strength. A year after Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought devastation to the Caribbean, it seems like a good time to ask (again): What kind of role should philanthropy play in post-disaster recovery?

Dee Baecher-Brown and George H.T. Dudley, president and chair, respectively, of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, have been thinking about that question. In an update (below) to donors and the USVI community, Baecher-Brown and Dudley share highlights of the foundation's post-disaster grantmaking and announce the launch of a new fund aimed at sustaining that progress into the future.

________

To our fellow Virgin Islanders, and all who hold our islands in their hearts:

Waking up on September 6, 2018, greeted by sun, a slight breeze, and surrounded by beautiful blue waters, we were mindful that just a year ago Hurricanes Irma and then Maria were about to make landfall in the Virgin Islands, ravaging our homes, displacing our families, and destroying our businesses in two of the costliest, most destructive hurricanes in American history. In hours, the winds of destruction wiped away what so many had spent their entire lives building.

The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) knows firsthand just how significant a challenge we all faced then and continue to face today. In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, CFVI established a number of special funds to support both immediate and long-term relief and jump-start community renewal efforts. The Fund for the Virgin Islands was created the day after Hurricane Irma to respond to donors' asking "How can we help?" Before Hurricane Maria made landfall, the CFVI board of directors had already established the Friends and Families Fund for USVI Renewal. More than fifteen additional funds and fiscal sponsorships have since been established by generous donors to CFVI for the purpose of helping the Virgin Islands and Virgin Islanders to recover.

Over the past year, more than 10,000 individual donors and institutions provided over $15 million in donations and grants. People who wanted to make a difference but didn't know how or where to start were able to pool their resources with like-minded stakeholders and target help where it was most needed.

Continue reading »

5 Questions for...Craig Newmark, Founder, Craig Newmark Philanthropies

September 06, 2018

Back in the mid-1990s, Craig Newmark started an email distribution list for friends that in time would revolutionize the classified ad business. As craigslist evolved into a website serving tens of millions of people globally every month, it also became a sizeable source of revenue for its creator. With his windfall, Newmark in 2016 created Craig Newmark Philanthropies, a private foundation that works to advance people and organizations in the areas of ‎trustworthy journalism, voter protection, ‎women in technology, and veterans and military families.

Earlier this month, Craig Newmark Philanthropies awarded $1 million to DonorsChoose.org to help fund STEM classroom projects in schools where more than half of the students are from low-income households. The commitment also included #STEMStories, a social media challenge designed to bring more attention and resources to STEM teachers and their projects.

PND spoke with Newmark about his philanthropy, the #STEMStories campaign, and the future of journalism.

Headshot_craig_newmark_400x400Philanthropy News Digest: Since you created Craig Newmark Philanthropies in 2016, you've provided support to a variety of different causes, including veterans, journalism, voter registration, women in technology, and education. How would you characterize the focus of your philanthropy?

Craig Newmark: Growing up in New Jersey — in high school, U.S. history class in particular — I learned that in America we aspire to stuff like fairness and opportunity and respect for all. With respect to my philanthropy, we try to advance those values. That may sound simplistic, but from my point of view, everything I'm doing is connected to promoting and defending those values.

PND: How does your recent matching gift to DonorsChoose.org fit in with that ambition?

CN: My connection to DonorsChoose goes back about ten years or so when I met Charles Best, who runs the organization. He explained his organization to me as a form of crowdfunding, which I understood even then. He also helped me understand that teachers don't get the respect and support they deserve and have earned.

The matching gift is designed to make it easier for every American to pitch in. I think it makes sense because a lot of people have a few extra dollars they'd be happy to donate to help fund teachers. Something like 94 percent of classroom teachers have to buy some school supplies out of their own pockets. That's not right. This is a way to show them some respect.

PND: What's the significance of the #STEMStories hashtag?

CN: The #STEMStories hashtag is something we hope will connect all of the social media activity going on in support of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education] and STEM teachers. The idea is for teachers and their supporters to help each other through social media by flagging and sharing content around that theme.

I'm an old-school '60s nerd. In fact, I was born a few years after Dr. Seuss invented the word in one of his books [Ed note: If I Ran the Zoo]. And I'm biased toward STEM. That's always been my strength. It's what I'm good at, and I feel there needs to be a lot more emphasis on it in our schools.

One obvious reason is because there are a lot of job opportunities in STEM for everyone, including underserved youth. It's a good source of jobs today and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. For example, right now, there are a lot of opportunities for cybersecurity professionals. So, I'd say that STEM is a good career opportunity area for anyone who's good with computers. And #STEMStories is a way to make more people aware of those opportunities.

Continue reading »

[Review] Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits: Creating an Effective PR Strategy for Today's World

September 04, 2018

Imagine you're on the train and the person in the seat next to you starts rubbing his arm and looking like he might faint. Then he says, "I think I'm having a heart attack!"

How would you handle the situation? Would you panic? Would you sit there and hope someone else stepped forward to help? Would you know what to do even if you wanted to help?

Whether it's a car accident or a sudden illness, the unexpected often throws people for a loop — especially if they're not prepared.

Book_modern_media_relationsThe same holds true for nonprofits: in an age of always-on digital media, a nonprofit's ability to respond effectively in a crisis situation hinges on having someone on staff who's been trained in communications. But, of course, most nonprofits don't have an in-house communications team, or even a full-time communications professional on staff. Typically, what they have is someone who has been tasked with handling the occasional call from a reporter. Often that person is the executive director, and she almost always has lots of other irons in the fire and very little time to devote to media relations.

Enter Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits: Creating an Effective PR Strategy for Today's World, by Peter Panepento and Antoinette G. Kerr (with a Foreword by Kivi Leroux Miller). In it, Panepento, a former Chronicle of Philanthropy reporter and editor, and Kerr, who wrote for the Lexington Dispatch, go beyond the basic press release and grip-and-grin photograph and provide a comprehensive set of tools with which every nonprofit operating in today's media landscape should be familiar. As they caution readers in the first few pages of the book, "effective media relations is no longer about generating press releases and making pitches to a handful of trusted outlets. It requires nuance and a willingness to try new approaches."

Not surprisingly, Panepento and Kerr take a journalist's approach to their subject, leading off with a survey of modern media (both digital and print) and getting down to brass tacks with a chapter on "Understanding Journalism" that includes a "true/false" test featuring statements such as: "We advertise in your newspaper; we should expect positive stories"; "I should expect to review a story about my organization before it is published"; and "I can offer a reporter free admission to our annual dinner."

From there, the book moves on to the basic tools of modern media relations, both old (press releases, op-eds, canned statements) and new (online pitch services, RSS feeds, video). Throughout, Panepento and Kerr advocate for the judicious use of the many tools available — avoiding, for example, the "spray and pray" method of press release dissemination and making sure, whenever one responds to a journalist, to provide them with something useful.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (September 1-2, 2018)

September 02, 2018

Labor-dayAnd...we're back with our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Advocacy

Does farm-animal advocacy work? And what does its relative lack of success tell us about advocacy more generally? Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther shares some thoughts.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

In a post on his Nonprofit AF blog, Vu Le shares twenty ways majority-white nonprofits can build authentic partnerships with organizations led by communities of color.

Economy

In honor of Labor Day and to celebrate workers across the country, the team at Charity Navigator has put together a list of five charities that are fighting for workers' rights.

Fundraising

On the GuideStar blog, Kay Sprinkel Grace shares four counterintuitive fundraising "truths." 

Giving Pledge

New York Times reporter David Gelles checks in with an inspirational Q&A with Turkish immigrant, Chobani founder, and billionaire Giving Pledger Hamdi Ulukaya. 

Health

Does the kind of data we collect and report ensure everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live their healthiest life possible? Absolutely. And as Tiny Kauh explains on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, a new report from PolicyLink (with support from the foundation) is "a first step toward identifying solutions for improving data and, ultimately, better health equity in our nation."

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5 Questions for...Timothy P. Silard, President, Rosenberg Foundation

August 30, 2018

Since taking the helm at the Rosenberg Foundation in 2008 — after having served as chief of policy in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office — Timothy P. Silard has worked to deepen the advancement of statewide and national criminal justice reform, immigrants' rights, and racial justice as areas of focus for the foundation. The foundation has joined other funders, for example, to create two affinity groups focused on criminal justice reform, Funders for Safety and Justice in California and the national Criminal Justice Funders Forum; supported efforts to end mass incarceration and dismantle barriers to opportunity and restore the rights of formerly incarcerated people; and is supporting reform at the intersection of criminal justice and immigrants' rights.

In 2016, in partnership with the Hellman Foundation, Rosenberg launched the $2 million Leading Edge Fund to seed, incubate, and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California. Eight fellows working to address inequity and injustice in the areas of criminal justice, immigrant rights, and racial justice were selected to receive $247,500 each over three years, as well as technical assistance in the areas of strategy, program design, fundraising, and communications.

As the grant period for the first group of Leading Edge fellows nears its close and the foundation prepares for the next group, which will start in January 2019, PND spoke with Silard about how Rosenberg and its partners plan to support progressive leaders who are shaping the future of criminal and racial justice reform in California and across the United States.

Philanthropy News Digest: The Leading Edge Fund was launched in early 2016, which seems almost prescient in hindsight. What was the impetus for creating a fund specifically designed to support "bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California"?

Timothy_silard_250Tim Silard: Lateefah Simon was program director at Rosenberg at the time and the genius behind the Leading Edge Fund. She and I were talking about how there was tremendous "movement energy" going on. There was the #BlackLivesMatter movement that had been sparked specifically around the killings of unarmed mostly black young men and broadened from there; new leadership around gender and gender identity; and, certainly here in California, an increasingly muscular immigrant rights movement. And our sense was that unrestricted support for movement leaders — because movements depend upon leaders — could have enormous value. Not in any way to replace the important grantmaking that philanthropy does for organizations and coalitions, but on top of that, unrestricted support to give movement leaders the space to innovate, dream, and play the long game.

Philanthropy is one of the few sectors with the ability to fund work that may take decades, but as a field we need to do that much more. Our feeling was that there was a need to invest in ideas that the world may not be ready for and may never be ready for. We thought about who funded the handful of lawyers in the 1980s who were fighting for marriage equality before even most people in the LGBT community thought that was an achievable goal. Those kinds of ideas, those kinds of innovative approaches to social justice and equity that may take a long time to come to fruition, ought to be funded.

And in California, while our population has changed so dramatically, the policies and the vision don't yet reflect the values of a non-white-majority state, a fundamentally progressive state, a state with an incredible richness of communities of color, so we also have the opportunity to go far. Playing that long game made sense here in California.

PND: What was the most important criteria in selecting the first cohort of fellows, and what are some of the highlights in their accomplishments over the last two and a half years?

TS: We have three primary criteria. One is what we call leadership skills but has to do with the depth of their engagement and connection with the community they're serving — some refer to that as "servant-leadership." A second is whether they have a compelling, innovative idea for change. Many wonderful leaders are, understandably, very focused on the nuts and bolts of running an organization and may not have the space yet to articulate such an idea for change. And a third is whether they're deeply personally committed to focusing on trying to advance that idea, or set of ideas, over the next few years — whether they have that space to really focus on their dream.

We're most of the way through the selection process for the next "formation" of fellows — we stopped calling them "cohorts" because it sounds like a scientific study — and it's definitely more art than science. This time we started with a large group of about a hundred and fifty nominees and we asked each of them for a one-pager describing their work and their "big ideas." After we've narrowed it down to about twenty semi-finalists, we ask for a five- to seven-page description of their vision for the broader work, their connection with the community, and the longer-term goals they want to achieve. We do a lot of calls and site visits, and we also talk with folks in their community and their colleagues in the field to learn more about the nominees.

As for highlights, all the fellows are doing important work, and I'll just mention a few. Raj Jayadev, who founded an organization called Silicon Valley De-Bug, is thinking very creatively about how to upend and change the courtroom process and bring organizing and activism and community voice into criminal courtrooms. He spearheaded something called "participatory defense" — which enables families and communities to impact the outcome of cases — in Santa Clara County, where we first funded him. He's now built nine other participatory defense hubs in major jurisdictions in California and fifteen outside the state, with other major cities like Las Vegas and Chicago coming online in September. So that's been amazing to watch — the rapid growth and replication of Raj's vision. And now he's bringing the participatory defense model into bail reform, engaging and bringing community members into the courtroom to push back against and provide alternatives to money bail and pretrial detention in jail.

Raha Jorjani, who is with the public defender's office in Alameda County, launched the first immigration practice at the county level, which has been incredible during this time of federal hostility toward immigrants. So many folks are caught up in both the immigration deportation system and the criminal justice system at the same time, with all the complicated legal implications of that. And of course, you have no right to an attorney in the immigration system, so her work is really bringing, in real time, the right to an attorney into that system — and an attorney who is coordinating with your defense attorney in your criminal case. That model has now been replicated in eight other California jurisdictions. So that's really catching fire. Also, last year she organized the first-ever major legal symposium on prosecutorial misconduct across both of those systems.

Patrisse Cullors, who co-founded #BlackLivesMatter, has written a best-selling book, created rapid-response networks in Los Angeles and other counties across California to eliminate state violence against people of color, and also launched a new initiative called JusticeLA. That group is organizing and advocating in L.A., which is an enormous county — almost a third of the population of the state lives in and around L.A. County — to divest from incarceration and corrections spending and instead invest that money on long-term safety solutions for communities most impacted by incarceration and violence.

Another example is Sam Sinyangwe, who co-founded an organization called WeTheProtesters with DeRay Mckesson and others. He's built an online platform for advocating and organizing against police violence and for police reform; he's built an incredible database; he's done extensive research on the hundred largest cities and their policing policies and practices and published tons of reports; and he's helped other advocates engage directly in a number of cities to get new policies and practices adopted.

Continue reading »

Congress Introduces Bill to Revolutionize Philanthropy

August 27, 2018

When Americans picture a "philanthropist," they typically imagine a very wealthy individual — someone who gives billions of dollars away or establishes their own foundation.

Unfortunately, our tax code reinforces this stereotype by providing only the wealthiest Americans with tax benefits for giving back. Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions — those typically in the highest tax brackets — can lower their income taxes by giving to charity. Currently, about 30 percent of taxpayers fall into this category, but with the recent tax reform this number could drop to as low as 5 percent.

That would leave 95 percent of Americans who are denied the opportunity to lower their taxes by giving to charity. A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives has set out to prevent that.

FGA_image_0

On July 26, 2018, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) introduced a bill along with five co-sponsors that would help redefine the way America gives back by empowering a new class of Everyday Philanthropist.

The Everyday Philanthropist Act (H.R. 6616) seeks to empower working Americans to give back through a Flexible Giving Account (FGA). An FGA is a pre-tax payroll deduction for employee giving. Non-itemizers and itemizers alike would be able to set up an FGA through their employer, set aside a portion of their paycheck pre-tax to be donated to the charity of their choice, and immediately see their taxable income reduced. The employer would benefit as well from a reduction in its payroll taxes.

By empowering millions more Americans to give back, the legislation would dramatically increase charitable giving in the U.S. But the Everyday Philanthropist Act offers more than that.

The legislation represents a chance to initiate a major shift in the way America gives back. The FGA would encourage a culture of shared responsibility in the workplace, one in which employers assume a more impactful role in empowering their employees and the workplace is transformed into a community where employees at every income level feel inspired to give and engage.

With an FGA, tax-deductible giving would no longer be a privilege reserved for a select few. Instead, it would be an opportunity, attainable by all working Americans, to come together and create a positive impact in the communities they care about.

As a champion of the Everyday Philanthropist Act, The Greater Give will continue to work with members of Congress to encourage them to join Representative Paulsen in supporting this legislation and the millions of charities, businesses, and Americans who would benefit from it. The legislation has already garnered public support from many in the charitable sector, including Community Health Charities, America's Charities, and the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network.

To learn more about the Everyday Philanthropist Act and what you can do to support it, visit thegreatergive.org or follow The Greater Give on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Headshot_dan_rashke2_for_philantopicDan Rashke is the Founder of The Greater Give, a 501(c)(6) formed to increase charitable giving by cultivating a movement of shared responsibility between employers and their employees. Rashke also is the CEO of TASC, a third-party benefits administrator based in Madison, Wisconsin.

What's New at Foundation Center Update (August)

August 21, 2018

Fc_logo_stackedAs teachers prepare their course outlines and program leaders pause to reflect on insights from the first two quarters, we also have been getting ready for an exciting back half of our year. And, as you'll see below, our Annual Report has been released, which offers our team a great reminder of what our collective work looks like. Here's our July roundup:

Projects Launched

  • Our 2017 Annual Report is now available! This was a personal labor of love, so do give it a look to learn how we're strengthening the social sector inside/out. We highlight work we did in sharing knowledge, strengthening the global philanthropic sector, servicing the needs of community foundations, and much more. You can even take a look "under the hood" of our staff here at Foundation Center in our highlight reel.
  • Thanks to generous funding from Borealis Philanthropy's Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund, we recently launched a new monthly webinar series to further a variety of conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the social sector. This specific webinar series is free and open to the public. Webinar recordings can be found here and upcoming webinars can be found here.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations launched a report with trends about US foundations working globally on August 14. (More to come in next month's update!) Watch this free webinar recording to learn more about how U.S. foundations are engaging globally and what these trends mean for our sector!
  • Foundation Center West (in San Francisco) will host an interactive live discussion with unicorn professionals (foundation and nonprofit leaders), in conversation with two of Unicorns Unite's authors — Jane Leu and Jessamyn Shams-Lau. This event will be livestreamed.
  • What might our communities look like if we didn't have to struggle for justice? What does liberation/freedom look like for our communities? Foundation Center South (in Atlanta) is creating space for the visualization of communities on the other side of oppression. Join our community conversation on August 29 to identify the role of art and artists in the reflection of the times as well as its ability to point to a future that dares to see the world differently than now.
  • We'll be launching a new GrantCraft guide on participatory grantmaking next month! Check out these videos from funders already engaged in the practice answering commonly asked questions about shifting the power in decision-making.
  • The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has awarded Foundation Center an 18-month grant to develop and launch a nonprofit startup assessment tool. Scheduled for a formal unveiling in Q2 of 2019, this diagnostic tool will help individuals assess their readiness, capacity, and capability for starting a nonprofit prior to taking the leap.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 212,203 new grants added to Foundation Maps in July, of which 20,162 grants were made to 3,122 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Did you know that in 2017, we reached a record of 9.5 million grants coded in Foundation Directory Online? Check out 2017 By the Numbers to learn more about what Foundation Center was up to last year!
  • Earlier this summer, we posted a survey to our GrantSpace community to gather feedback on how the re-launch of our website was received. Nearly 600 people responded. When asked about the greatest challenge they face, respondents said "finding grants for my nonprofit" (42 percent), "diversifying my funding sources" (15 percent), and "writing compelling proposals and fundraising pitches" (15 percent).
  • New data sharing partners: Australian Communities Foundation; Jack Brockhoff Foundation; Tim Fairfax Family Foundation; Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal; John Villiers Trust; Myer Foundation; NAB Foundation; Grace S. and W. Linton Nelson Foundation; Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation; James & Diana Ramsay Foundation; The Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, Inc.; Trustee for the Bryan Foundation; and Wyatt Benevolent Institution (AKA Wyatt Trust). Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.

Data Spotlight

  • Total reported gifts received by the largest 100 community foundations have reached a new high for the third year in a row. Learn more at columbussurvey.cfinsights.org.
  • Recent research shows only 5 percent of foundation funding went to supporting the financial sustainability of civil society organizations in 6 researched countries.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email! (And, I'm curious: did you read through to the end? If you did, tweet your favorite Foundation Center resource to @fdncenter with the hashtag #FCLove and you'll be entered to win some swag!) I'll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

It's Time to Invest in Youth Power

August 16, 2018

Youth_power_summitRecent opinion polls show that young people across the country are deeply dissatisfied with the nation's elected leaders and eager to see government pursue progressive policies on issues ranging from gun violence, to sexual assault prevention, to immigration. Young people also are registering to vote in record numbers, creating new hope that change may be at hand.

But whether this surge in interest and engagement among the nation's young people turns into a surge in advocacy and activism — and actual voting — is far from a slam dunk. There is an urgent need and opportunity for philanthropy to invest in efforts to organize and inspire young people, including young people of color, so they can become the transformational force we need in our communities and our country. 

The California Funders for Boys and Men of Color, a group of foundation CEOs dedicated to improving outcomes for boys and men of color through systems change, are supporting one such effort. This August, hundreds of youth advocates of color from across California gathered in Sacramento for four days of learning and advocacy during the Youth Power Summit, where participants had the opportunity to speak directly with candidates for California's superintendent of public instruction, among others. 

The young people who gathered at the summit are leading campaigns for racial and economic justice across the state — fighting for quality schools, an end to youth incarceration, immigrant rights, a healthy environment, healthier communities, and more. Organized by the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and PolicyLink, the summit gave them an opportunity to bring their diverse movements together and build their power, leadership, and voice. One of the highlights was a rally on the steps of the state Capitol, where participants shared their vision for a more just and equitable future — a future that includes police accountability, sentencing reform, workforce opportunities, and trauma recovery services.

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Small Charities Are Being Left Behind by Big Data for Social Good Initiatives

August 10, 2018

Big-Data-webData has the potential to help nonprofit organizations work at a scale larger than ever before and to solve problems more efficiently and effectively. Data can help organizations improve their monitoring and evaluation, determine where the biggest problems lie and where the most value can be added, influence policy through evidence, increase their reach, and enhance their fundraising capabilities.

But big data analytics and artificial intelligence have mainly been developed for and by the private sector. The good news is that third sector organizations increasingly are using data for social good, from predicting child welfare needs and monitoring climate change to working toward new cancer treatments.

Large nonprofits can use their brand power to leverage data-sharing partnerships with private companies, pay for expensive data-analytics services, or hire in-house data scientists. But for smaller charities, working with new data methods and analytics requires capacity, funding, and partnerships they typically don't have and can't easily secure.

That was underscored by Lloyd's Bank UK Digital Business Index 2016, which found that almost half of UK charities lack basic digital skills and that 80 percent are not investing in digital technology at all, let alone in big data. It's not difficult to see why: if comes down to a choice between hiring a program officer or a data officer, or between acquiring data analytics capabilities and additional project funding, most charities will choose to spend their limited resources in ways most likely to impact their constituents and communities.

Here at the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), we recently conducted a global scan highlighting how data is being used in different ways for social good, emerging challenges in the field, and how philanthropy can be and is engaged in this work.

For starters, philanthropy can help level the playing field by addressing some of the biggest obstacles facing small charities in using data for good, including often-prohibitive costs, a lack of human capital, insufficient leverage to form data philanthropy partnerships, and a difficult regulatory environment.

But there is hope.

Below, we highlight four examples of how philanthropy is supporting smaller charities to better engage in this work:

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Baltimore Children and Youth Fund: Community-Based Grantmaking Comes to Baltimore

August 08, 2018

BCYF-logoThe Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Riots are the cry of the unheard." If that maxim is true, Baltimore children, youth, and young adults were crying out long before the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray, Jr. sparked demonstrations and unrest in the city.

Gray’s death was the tipping point, but it was not the cause of the unrest, which was driven by a decades-long pattern in Baltimore of divestment in education, affordable housing, employment, and recreational outlets for children and youth. Whether by intent or impact, young people were not being heard.

Fortunately, while a broad-based coalition of young people, youth-centered organizations, and community leaders had been working to address the vacuum in opportunities for children, youth, and young adults, Baltimore City Council president Bernard "Jack" Young, a longtime advocate for children and youth, was focused on increasing investments in future leaders. His vision eventually spawned the creation of the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, which distributes grants ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 to persons and groups with a passion for, or a track record of, authentic engagement with young people.

BCYF was a long time coming. Young twice wrote legislation intended to create such a fund, and his dream was finally realized when voters approved a 2016 ballot referendum to create the fund. That it was established by referendum is key; politicians don't necessarily get what they want absent public support. And everything from the inception of the fund to its day-to-day management is a testament to end-user demand and public support. In this case, the support isn't just for getting resources to the community but doing so in the most inclusive and transparent way possible.

To achieve that goal, several individuals and groups have agreed to partner with BCYF. My organization, Associated Black Charities, is the fiscal agent charged with managing the fund. Frontline Solutions International and UPD Consultants are technical assistance partners, with the former covering everything from consultant collaboration to community engagement, and the latter charged with providing strategic thought-partnership throughout the design, planning, and proposal review and grantee administration processes. Kinetics is the strategic communications partner covering everything from social media engagement to online marketing to media relations.

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The Ultra Rich Won't Drive Innovative Philanthropy  —  Trusting Community Will

August 07, 2018

Community_friends_globeIn an announcement that resembled an NBA free agent mulling over prospective candidates for his services, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos took to Twitter to inform the world that he is very nearly ready to make his major philanthropic debut. After a year of consideration, Bezos stated, "I have settled on two areas that I'm very excited about," adding that he would reveal the areas of interest before the end of the summer.

It goes without saying that when the world's richest man decides to devote a fraction of his wealth to social good, the philanthropic community takes notice. Bezos has become a hot topic in funding circles, with many speculating on where he will focus his efforts and debating the merits of the likeliest scenarios. Those working in or around philanthropy are wise to pay heed to the emergence of a major funder, especially one who aims to make a public splash. At the same time, there are those whose interest in what he will do has devolved into uninhibited enthusiasm and misplaced hope, helping to drive a narrative that Bezos has the capacity and will to significantly change philanthropy or even the world.

Undoubtedly, Bezos' reputation for innovating and succeeding across industries has excited many who hope he will apply that same entrepreneurial spirit to his philanthropy. When you consider Bezos in the context of his business practices and broader history, however, it seems unlikely he'll establish himself as the change agent some are hoping for. For instance, though Bezos announced his intention to step up his philanthropy a year ago, reports have continued to emerge detailing the appalling work conditions and staggeringly low wages paid to Amazon workers. We've also learned of the labor-camp-like conditions at the Hengyang Foxconn factory responsible for the production of Amazon's Kindle, Echo Dots, and tablets. Instead of speculating on what Bezos can accomplish through philanthropy, maybe we should be asking whether he could achieve more good by committing to reform Amazon's exploitive corporate practices.

Perhaps the positive reception Bezos has enjoyed with respect to his philanthropic push simply reflects our society's tendency to venerate the rich and famous. Or maybe we're just desperate to believe that, in these tumultuous times, someone will emerge who is willing to put their power and influence to good use. However, philanthropy as an institution can ill afford to mistake Bezos for anything more than what his actions (and inaction) suggest he is.

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Weekend Link Roundup (August 4-5, 2018)

August 05, 2018

Heatwave-europeOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Communications/Marketing

It's a little late, but we just wanted to give a shoutout to Social Velocity's Nell Edgington and her new website. Congrats, Nell — it looks great!

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

What does it mean for funders to build power? And how can they incorporate a power-building frame to measure meaningful progress on their DEI efforts? On the NCRP blog, Caitlin Duffy, senior associate for learning and engagement at the organization, shares the insights of four leaders in the sector — Daniel Lee, Alejandra L. Ibanez, Rhiannon Rossi, and Elizabeth Tan — who recently participated in an NCRP-sponsored webinar on the topic.

As she prepared to depart the Meyer Memorial Trust after more than a decade, Director of Programs Candy Solovjovs sat down with Kimberly Wilson, the trust's director of communications, to talk about the evolution of its grantmaking.

Fundraising

News that some dictionaries have started to include an additional definition for the word literally has language purists and the word police up in arms. To which Fundraising Now's Jeff Brooks says: Like, get over it. "[L]anguage changes. And that's a good thing. Even though it means an old 'rule' gets revised now and then."

In part two of a two-part series on board fundraising for the GuideStar blog, fundraising consultant Clare Axelrad looks at the different types of stories your board members can tell and/or elicit from the prospects they approach for gifts. 

Grantmaking

A recent survey of the field by PEAK Grantmaking reveals that too few funders who collect demographic data on their grantees can articulate how they plan to use that information. On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Michelle Greanias, PEAK's executive director, shares some recommendations for funders and nonprofits looking to ensure they are collecting and learning from demographic data in ways that will help increase the effectiveness of their work.

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For Your Consideration: Your First Job Should Be a Nonprofit Job

August 03, 2018

Top_chance_change_GettyImageSIf you asked me my freshman year of college where I thought I would be in fifteen years — or even where I would be after graduation — I would not have said "working in the nonprofit sector." I had earned a B.A. in philosophy, politics and law from Binghamton University in upstate New York, and I had every intention of attending law school. But life often takes you in surprising directions, and when a job opened up at The Blue Card, a national nonprofit that provides resources and financial assistance to struggling Holocaust survivors, I knew it was something I needed to do.

I started at the organization in 2009 as a program coordinator, became a program director the following year, and in 2013 took on the leadership role of executive director. My grandparents had fled Nazi persecution, so I had a personal connection to the organization's work. And by making it possible for me to work toward a mission I believe in, the job has given me back as much — and more — as I've put into it.

So to those college grads who are heading out into the world, allow me this piece of advice: think about taking a nonprofit job as your first job.

I know, it's not the craziest idea you've ever heard. Research from Johns Hopkins University shows that, collectively, nonprofits are the nation's third largest employer, behind only the retail and manufacturing sectors. And while I could go on and on about why the nonprofit sector is a wonderful place to begin your career, I'll give you my elevator pitch.

There's plenty of room to grow. The best thing about working at a nonprofit organization is the relative lack of bureaucracy. In fact, most nonprofits are places where you can turn any role into a "stretch role" — that is, a place where you can seek out and perform tasks that fall outside your official job responsibilities. It's not that most nonprofit managers will let you take ownership of a project; in many cases, you'll be expected to. Take it from me, a crash course in grantwriting, budget planning, or government relations can put you on the fast track to a job with even more responsibility.

Nonprofits also provide lots of opportunities for moving around. Not loving the job you were hired to fill? Although you may not be paid as well as your peers in the for-profit sector, you're likely to find it a lot easier to switch to a different department or try something completely different.

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On 'Fake' Victories and the Need to Act

August 02, 2018

American-Poverty-768x512While no one would argue that Donald Trump is a student of history, he and other Republicans seem to have taken a lesson from a former "dean" of the Senate, George Aiken (R-VT), who was alleged to have said of U.S. involvement in Vietnam that we should simply "declare victory and get out." How else to explain the things Trump and Republican politicians are doing to "address" poverty in America?

Most of us have learned that the president, members of his administration, and his congressional allies are adept at creating "alternative facts" through exaggeration, misrepresentation, and plain old dissembling. After a one-day summit meeting in June with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un generated nothing in the way of detailed policy agreements, Trump declared that the North Korean nuclear threat had been eliminated. (Real-world developments subsequently invalidated the president’s assertions.) Similarly, at an extraordinary press conference following an unprecedented private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the president dismissed the consensus view of American intelligence agencies that Russia was actively working to undermine our electoral and democratic processes and declared that no such threat exists. And now the president is focusing his magical-thinking act on the home front.

In July, the Trump administration declared "victory" in the War on Poverty — the unofficial name for a series of federal initiatives introduced in the 1960s by the Johnson administration to help people move out of poverty and provide assistance to those in need — and declared that poverty in the United States was no longer a problem the federal government need worry about. The administration's declaration was stunning on two counts: Republicans have a long history of opposing the War on Poverty, and poverty remains a huge problem in America.

Established measures of poverty show that in 2016 about 12.7 percent of Americans — roughly 43 million people — lived in poverty. And a recent United Nations study found that 18.5 million Americans are facing "extreme impoverishment." In fact, close to 2 percent of the population – more than 5 million of us — live on no more than $4 a day, including government assistance. Even more alarming, more than a few moderate-income Americans are included in a Federal Reserve study which found that 40 percent of us would not be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense without having to sell something or borrow the money.

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Every Person Counts: Why Philanthropy Must Help Save the Census

July 31, 2018

2020_censusIn philanthropic circles, when we talk about protecting democratic institutions and values we often focus on expanding voting rights, improving representation, and connecting impoverished communities with the resources they need. However, all these issues — and many others — are tied to another fundamental pillar of American democracy: the decennial census.

Every decade since 1790, the government has counted the American population, as mandated by the Constitution. While it took the Fourteenth Amendment to ensure that all people were counted equally, the census has nonetheless performed an essential role in maintaining and improving our democracy. Today, our country uses census data to apportion congressional representation; to draw federal, state, and local legislative districts; and to enforce civil rights laws. Businesses use census data to decide where to open, offer jobs, and provide goods and services. The census helps cities and states identify locations for large infrastructure projects like schools, senior centers, public transportation, hospitals, and police services. It determines how roughly $700 billion in federal funds in 2015 were distributed and allocated to programs such as Medicaid, Head Start, and Section 8 housing.

If the 2020 census yields inaccurate data, programs like these — and the people who depend on them — will be in serious jeopardy. Projects may be deprived of crucial funding and entire communities denied fair representation in government. In other words, the consequences of a poorly conducted census will ripple through the public and private sectors, and through civil society, for at least the next ten years.

Unfortunately, there are mounting challenges to achieving a fair, accurate, and complete census in 2020.

The Census Bureau notes that certain populations — people of color, young children, and rural households among them — have been undercounted historically. On top of that, Census Bureau researchin 2017 revealed that the current political climate could further discourage census participation. According to the bureau's own Center for Survey Management, concerns about data sharing and privacy are growing, "particularly among immigrants or those who live with immigrants," which in turn could have a "disproportionate impact on hard-to-count populations."

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[Review] How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don't

July 30, 2018

Social movements are nothing new. People always seem to be marching for — or against — something. Part of this is due to the fact that social movements often take decades to achieve the change they seek, while many never get there.

Book_how_change_happens_3DWhile there is no simple recipe for social movement success, Leslie Crutchfield, executive director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, and her research team have identified a number of patterns that distinguish successful social movements from those that didn't succeed and shares them in her latest book, How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don't. The six she identifies are a focus on the grassroots; a recognition of the importance of state and local efforts; a commitment to changing norms and attitudes as well as policy; a willingness to reckon with adversarial allies; acceptance of the fact that business is not always the enemy and often can be a key ally; and being "leaderfull."

Crutchfield argues that successful social change leaders invariably recognize the importance of advocating for a shift in social norms, not just policy reforms, and that they never prioritize one over the other. And to support her contention, she shares some key insights from successful change leaders. In the movement for marriage equality in the United States, for example, LGBT advocates used polling research to reframe the focus of the campaign's messaging from "rights" to "love" and "commitment," which in turn led to the dissemination of now-familiar slogans such as "Love is Love" and, eventually, a change in marriage laws.

To further illustrate how change happens, Crutchfield highlights a number of instances where a movement prevailed over a determined counter-movement that strayed from one or more of the patterns. Most telling, perhaps, is the success the National Rifle Association has had "in defending and expanding the gun rights of gun owners in the United States" through a relentless focus on grassroots organizing. Indeed, "[t]he gun rights movement's grassroots army is the reason why, despite the waves of angry anti-gun protests, heartbreaking vigils, and pleading calls for reform that erupt after each tragic mass shooting…gun violence prevention groups still largely lose ground." Over the years, NRA leaders have been laser-focused in growing and emboldening their grassroots base through community events such as barbecues and town hall meetings. In contrast, gun safety advocates have been more oriented "toward elite politics at the national level" and in "push[ing] a comprehensive gun control bill through Congress." The dichotomous results of the two approaches speak for themselves and serve as additional support for Crutchfield's contention that the single most important decision movement leaders have to make is whether "to let their grassroots fade to brown or...turn [them] gold."

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Engage From the Inside! (Part 2): The Benefits of Internal Branding for Nonprofits

July 27, 2018

BrandThe theme of this series is that "brands are created from the inside-out." So while it’s essential to drive external branding with a well-designed strategy, it's also important to use that strategy "to focus your mission and cultivate the right kind of internal behavior, actions, and culture." The shorthand for this concept is called a "living brand," a concept that’s been part of business management lexicon for some time. Living brands help build and maintain organizational identity and cohesion, which is especially important in the social impact sector, where success is harder to measure than it is in the bottom-line-driven for-profit world.

Unfortunately, nonprofits engaged in strategic planning and brand strategy work often struggle to translate the internal memos and documents generated by the process into broader organizational change. That's because while this work signals an organization's commitment to change and (when done well) offers a path forward, it takes consistent follow-through to get staff aligned with the ideas and concepts behind the strategy.

That's where internal branding shines.

Branding is about engaging and activating audiences, mostly through design (in the broadest sense of the term). But as is the case when engaging audiences outside your organization, you have to do more for your internal audiences than communicate what a brand stands for; you have to demonstrate it. By being purposeful about the experiences created for staff, design can help us translate strategy into something tangible and exciting — something that "lives and breathes" for staff and stakeholders alike.

In other words, positively influencing how staff view and experience their work requires you to be both strategic and creative in how you weave the ideas and concepts behind your brand into everyday workplace situations. It also requires leadership that is committed to the brand and what it stands for. So, assuming you're able to marshal the interest in and resources for an internal branding effort, what will success look like? Here are five benefits of internal branding that underscore its value to nonprofit organizations:

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[Review] Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits & Foundations Can Build EPIC Partnerships

July 25, 2018

Regardless of what corner of the social sector you work in, you're probably working to make the world a better place. At a time when many scorn and deride such an ambition, Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits and Foundations Can Build Epic Partnerships urges social-sector changemakers to roll up their sleeves and get to work on improving the relationships necessary to drive the progress we all want to see.

Book_unicorns_unite_for_PhilanTopicWritten by Jessamyn Shams-Lau, executive director of the Peery Foundation, Jane Leu, founder and CEO of Smarter Good, and Vu Le, executive director of Rainier Valley Corps, the book is a highly creative attempt to deconstruct the classic dichotomy between grantmaker and grantseeker — and why not? One can't exist without the other, and changemakers often jump back and forth between the two. But first, what do they mean by "unicorn"? A unicorn, according to the authors, is "a persistent, visionary, and dedicated nonprofit or foundation professional who shines with brilliance and practices humility." And why are they great? Because they are bad-ass; they provide jobs and strengthen the economy; they handle stuff no one else wants to do; they restore and build community; they amplify voices that aren't heard; they stand defiantly against injustice; and they create hope. What's more, we all have unicorn potential inside us. Shams-Lau, Leu, and Le are here to help us find it.

The first step in that journey takes the form of a pep-talk, a much-needed moment of levity before readers are led into the nitty-gritty of all the ways in which our professional relationships are dysfunctional. The authors then dive into "What Is," highlighting some of the key issues in the "unicorn family" dynamic with real-life examples, including distrust, jealousy, power imbalance, fear, hypocrisy, time wasting, disrespect, and a lack of listening and honesty. In the process, they note that while those of us working in the sector have everything we need to foster better relationships within and beyond our organizations, too often we put ourselves into "boxes" — "Foundations are often funder-centric. Nonprofits are often nonprofit-centric. [And we] are all often egocentric" — and that these boxes often turn into "nightmares." Indeed, we spend so much time focused on what's going wrong in these nightmares that we end up perpetuating them, when we should be focused on solving problems together.

The book shares some of these nightmares, which may be therapeutic or chilling, depending on what "box" you put yourself into. In one example, a funder dangled a half-million-dollar grant in front of a nonprofit unicorn, whose staff spent sixty hours filling out their forms and spreadsheets only to have that funder ask them to let go of current staff and replace them with lower-paid staff, and then reduced the size of the grant to $100,000. In another scenario, a foundation unicorn, trying to be respectful of a nonprofit director's time, asked for materials that had already been prepared for other foundations and let the director know as soon as it was clear that his organization wasn't a good fit — only to be accused of leading him on and effectively ending the nonprofit's work by not funding it. And several foundations and nonprofits share the difficulties they have in being in the same room together as peers.

We all have these nightmares, and we all want to forget about them and move forward, but we get stuck because "we are all afraid to name, and then address, the root causes that create division in our sector." Perhaps the biggest one is, "Whose money is it?" The authors are quick to remind us that "nobody owns the money in a foundation. It belongs to the foundation, which is also not owned by anybody — not even the founder or the board. The funds in a foundation exist to serve the public good." But though we know that to be true, we act as if the money belongs to the people tasked with dispersing it, and "even if it's unconscious, money equals power." Arguably, this unequal power dynamic, more than anything else, shapes the interactions between nonprofits and foundations — and between staff members within an organization. It also leads to what the authors call the "Tyranny of the Hierarchy of Inputs," which is an incredibly useful framing of how money is too often valued above all other inputs and contributions to the outputs we are working for — things like leadership, experience, knowledge, hope, labor, creativity, caring, risk taking — and so diminishes the value of those contributions and the people who make them.

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A Conversation With Ana Marie Argilagos, President/CEO, Hispanics in Philanthropy

July 24, 2018

It has not been a happy twelve months for Latino communities in the United States.

In September, President Donald Trump announced that he planned to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program within six months. Then in January, nearly two hundred thousand Salvadorans who have lived in the United States for more than a decade under a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) learned that the administration would be rescinding their protected status. To the dismay of many, that announcement foreshadowed a stepped-up spring campaign by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents against undocumented immigrants — most of them brown, many of them Latino — a campaign that culminated in June with a Department of Justice announcement of a new "zero tolerance" policy that has led to the separation of immigrant children from their parents seeking asylum at the southern border.

Since its founding in 1983, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) has worked to strengthen Latino equity, leadership, and voice and build a more equal and prosperous America and Latin America. It does that by bringing national foundations, local donors, advocates, and academics together to identify the most pressing issues affecting Latino communities, work toward shared goals, and strengthen the capacity of the Latino nonprofit sector.

In January, Ana Marie Argilagos joined HIP as its new president, succeeding Diana Campoamor, who retired at the end of 2017 after twenty-six years with the organization. In two conversations, one earlier this year and a more recent exchange, PND spoke with Argilagos about the Trump administration’s immigration policies and actions, the things she heard from HIP members during a recent listening tour, and her plans for the organization as she settles into her new role.

Before joining HIP, Argilagos was a senior advisor at the Ford Foundation, where her work focused on urban development strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic opportunity, and advance sustainability in cities and regions across the world. Prior to that, she served as deputy chief of staff and deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where she created the Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation, and spent eight years as a senior program officer at the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she spearheaded the foundation’s work in rural areas, indigenous communities, and the U.S.-Mexico border region.

Headshot_ana_marie_argilagosPhilanthropy News Digest: Since President Trump assumed office, he has taken lots of actions that have impacted the Latino community, and immigrants in particular — from rescinding Temporary Protected Status for two hundred thousand Salvadorans, to putting the status of DREAMers in jeopardy, to criminalizing immigrants crossing the border and separating children from parents. What has been your reaction to the administration's policies?

Ana Marie Argilagos: It breaks my heart. Dehumanizing immigrants is only dehumanizing us as a nation. Ripping kids away from their parents will have long-term and devastating impacts on the lives of children, on our communities, and on our nation. Families fleeing violence, survivors of domestic violence, and people seeking asylum in the United States are being punished instead of being helped. This is not the American way. This is not what Lady Liberty stands for.

And this isn't just about immigrants or Latinos. Immigrant justice is racial justice. Our country has a deep-rooted history of criminalizing people of color. The current administration's immigration enforcement efforts continue this history of punishing and criminalizing asylum seekers. It is not acceptable.

PND: Do you think the president's rhetoric has made people feel less safe?

AMA: Without a doubt. But it's critical to point out that his rhetoric doesn't just make people feel unsafe — it justifies policies and public acts of hatred. These policies and actions are making the world less safe for certain groups of people in a very real way. His rhetoric has empowered white supremacists to come out of the shadows, to hurt and even kill people of color. It also spurs the criminalization of immigrants who are crossing the border because they fear for the safety of their families and their children, has resurfaced hatred and discriminatory policies like the Muslim ban, and has resulted in the revocation of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Haitians. Immigrants, people of color, Muslims, trans people, and many other groups now feel they are living in a country that is hostile to them because of the president's own words and direct actions.

PND: Let's talk about your organization, Hispanics in Philanthropy. What do you see as its role, especially now, in this political climate?

AMA: For more than thirty-five years, HIP has worked to advocate for Latino communities across the Americas. And today, in what is certainly an historic moment for the nation and the world, we have an incredibly important role to play. I see us playing that role in three areas. First, we must act as the conscience of the philanthropic sector. We must push on foundations to do more for the Latino community — not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it's necessary if we want to advance human rights, guarantee the safety of the next generation, and ensure the growth of a more democratic and prosperous society.

Second, we're leaders in recognizing Latino nonprofits. We find organizations that are doing great work, we vet them, and we shine a spotlight on them so that foundations can see — and support — them. It also keeps foundations accountable for funding diverse organizations, instead of just funding the same well-known nonprofits over and over.

Last, as a pathmaker in philanthropy, we also mobilize Latinos to invest in their own communities. We were an early innovator in this space and launched the first bilingual crowdfunding platform for social impact work in the Americas. Now we're looking for new ways to innovate and engage our community on a large scale.

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Weekend Link Roundup (July 21-22, 2018)

July 22, 2018

Trump_putin_afp_getty_yuri_kadobnovOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Animal Welfare

Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther reports on the return of Wayne Pacelle, the former Human Society of the United States CEO who was forced to step down from his position six months ago after "a flurry of accusations of sexual harassment led to revolts among donors and staff."

Civic Engagement

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, California Endowment president Robert K. Ross argues that what America disparately needs is a "shared vision for [the] nation that is born from our communities and [a] new social compact to support that vision."

Education

Researchers from Northeastern University have put numbers to something many of us suspected: geography largely determines access to quality schools. In Boston, where the research was conducted, a lack of good schools in predominately minority neighborhoods means that students in those neighborhoods had "fewer top schools from which to choose, had greater competition for seats in those schools, were less likely to attend them, and had to travel longer distances when they did attend them." Sara Feijo reports for Northeastern News.

Diversity

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, CEP's Ellie Buteau shares findings from a new CEP report, Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations, that was based on a survey of nonprofit leaders that asked them about diversity at their organizations and how foundations can be most helpful in this area.

Environment

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a leading funder of conservation efforts in the American West, has announced a refresh of its grantmaking strategy for the region that includes a couple of new imperatives: listen more to grantees, partners, and communities; prioritize equity, inclusivity, and diversity; and take a systemic approach to policy change. Click here to learn more.

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Redesigning Online Education for the Global South

July 20, 2018

Logo_PhilUPhilanthropy University was launched in 2015 with seven courses that served more than 220,000 users from over 180 countries. Despite this success, we decided a little more than a year ago to pause the delivery of these courses. How come?

To understand why, it's important to understand how the target audience of Philanthropy University has shifted. We initially designed courses for a broad audience of social impact organizations around the world, from large nonprofits in California to small civil society organizations in rural Pakistan.

By 2017, however, it was clear to us that the way to deepen our impact was by focusing on local organizations based in the Global South — the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania that are generally low-income and tend to be politically and culturally marginalized. To ensure that our courses would be accessible and relevant to that audience, we realized we would need to redesign them.

Understanding the barriers for Global South learners

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) hold the potential to bring a single course to learners across the globe. But studies show that learners from more developed countries disproportionately enroll in and complete MOOCs. Given the seemingly untapped potential of MOOCs, Philanthropy University's Instructional Design team set out to understand the pain points and needs of learners in the Global South and how they access online course content. In an environment where MacBook Airs and Google Fiber are not the norm, could learners access an online course easily?

For example, the original Philanthropy University courses included short video lectures from some of the world's leading experts in capacity building. Qualitative feedback from learners in the Global South indicated, however, that Internet bandwidth constraints interfered with their ability to stream videos, while spotty Internet connectivity made it challenging to progress through the course content. "It was really difficult for me to watch the videos," a learner in Ghana told us. "They did not load. So most of the time, I was just reading the [video] transcripts. It was so difficult…. I couldn't watch them."

To address these technical constraints, we redesigned our platform and underlying technology in the following ways:

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The Opioid Epidemic and the Urgent Need for a Philanthropic Response

July 19, 2018

Opioid_addiction_for_PhilanTopicPhilanthropy is critical to a flourishing democratic society, one in which a vision for solving intractable problems and empowering people to thrive is shared by most, if not all. Among other things, philanthropy has been a driver of some of the greatest breakthroughs in the public health area, including the discovery of a vaccine for polio and the development of antiretroviral therapy to address the scourge of HIV/AIDS. Yet as we consider the most urgent public health crisis in America today — the disease of addiction and the threat posed by the opioid epidemic to our communities and families — we are at a loss to explain the glaring absence of a robust philanthropic response.

Overdose is the number-one cause of accidental death in the United States, its impact felt across every demographic and zip code. Opioid overdoses alone kill more people in a weekend than the worst hurricane, and yet there has been no emergency-like response, from philanthropy or government. With a few notable exceptions, foundations and grantmakers focused on health and social issues have gone AWOL, leaving much-needed solutions desperate for funding support. Just recently, for example, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, one of the few foundations to focus on substance use disorders, announced that it will be phasing out its grantmaking in this area.

Throughout our careers, we have worked alongside some of the sharpest philanthropic minds and leading substance use experts and have come to believe that if more funders were to direct their resources to solving the opioid epidemic and addressing the addiction crisis in America, it would, at a minimum, catalyze a badly need response from government, business, and the private sector and lead to better health outcomes for millions of people.

Of the numerous recommendations put forward by experts in the field of addiction, there are six where foundations and individual donors, without having to reinvent themselves, could focus their resources and expertise and have real impact in terms of reducing the number of overdose deaths in America. 

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