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8 posts from March 2018

Weekend Link Roundup (March 17-18, 2018)

March 18, 2018

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


Nonprofit communications professionals should pay more attention to their usage of hyphens. Nonprofit AF's Vu Le shares a dozen examples that demonstrate why. 

Criminal Justice

"As the U.S. confronts a growing epidemic of opioid misuse, policymakers and public health officials need a clear understanding of whether, how, and to what degree imprisonment for drug offenses affects the nature and extent of the nation’s drug problems." A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts finds "no statistically significant relationship between state drug imprisonment rates and three indicators of state drug problems: self-reported drug use, drug overdose deaths, and drug arrests." Pew's Adam Gelb explains.


On WaPo education reporter Valerie Strauss's Answer Sheet blog, venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith offers some advice to Education Secretary Besty DeVos based on what he learned after visiting two hundred schools in fifty states.

On the Aspen Institute blog, Jennifer Bradley chats with Caroline Hill, founder of the DC Equity Lab, which invests in early stage education ventures in Washington, D.C. 

More than 50 percent of the U.S.-based education companies invested in by Omidyar Network have been founded or led by women. ON's Isabelle Hau shares some  of the lessons it has learned along the way. 


The announcement by the New York City-based Nathan Cummings Foundation that it plans to “align 100 percent of [its] nearly half-billion dollar endowment with [its] mission" raises some questions for the always insightful David Callahan. 

"Youth-led organizations across the country are demanding to be heard," writes Mónica Córdova, deputy director of the Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing, on the NCRP blog, and it "is philanthropy's turn to grab hold of the opportunity before us and advance the movement for a multiracial, cross-class alliance of young people standing up to demand a society free from all forms of violence."

PEAK Grantmaking's Alyssa Curran has put together a very nice introduction to racially equitable grantmaking.

On the HistPhil blog, Columbia University doctoral candidate Andrew Jungclaus examines the "godly conservatism" of J. Howard Pew, founder of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

What's a day in the life of a program officer like? Doron Weber, a vice president and program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, lays it out for Lifehacker's Nick Douglas.


The key finding from a new report by Brooking's Adam Looney and the the Federal Reserve Board's Nicholas Turner is shocking if not surprising: boys who grow up in families in the bottom tenth of the income distribution are about twenty times more likely to be in prison in their thirties than boys born into families in the top tenth. Vox's Dylan Matthews has the details.

Public Affairs

When it comes to politics, the generation gap is wider than it has been in decades — with wide and growing divides in generational views of racial discrimination, immigration, and the size and scope of government. The Pew Research Center breaks it down.

Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

9 Strategic (and Inexpensive!) Ways Funders Can Support Grantee Staff

March 16, 2018

Generic-supportNonprofits tend to sink or swim based not on mission and funding alone but on the talents of employees. Keeping good employees and equipping them for the work that needs to be done is one of the critical challenges frequently cited by nonprofit leaders, yet funders tend to invest much less in the "people" aspects of nonprofit organizations than they do in other areas. Indeed, businesses spend four times more per employee on leadership development than do nonprofits, while according to Foundation Center grant data from 1992-2011 less than 1 percent of foundation grant dollars are invested in nonprofit workforce development.

There are many reasons for this, from fear of getting tangled up in personnel issues to foundation charters that specify funding for programs rather than operations. However, as nonprofit organization Fund the People emphasizes, nonprofit people are nonprofit programs, and even modest investments in staff development can have significant impact.

At the Pierce Family Foundation in Chicago, our priority is capacity building and providing funding for the kind of "back office" support that keeps organizations strong and enables their programs to thrive. Given the particular experience of family members and founding staff in working for and running nonprofits prior to launching the foundation, a focus on supporting what it really takes to deliver mission was part of our vision from the beginning. It's only natural for us, therefore, to want to invest in the people whom nonprofits employ.

Below, I outline nine strategic and inexpensive ways we've invested in nonprofit staffing — and that we believe other funders interested in providing similar support can easily adapt for their own purposes.

1. Provide unrestricted general operating support. Capacity begins with staffing; do not underestimate the importance of supporting basic staffing costs by providing unrestricted general operating support. The more stable the general operating base, the more supported an organization will be in terms of staff retention, compensation, and morale. Staff also function better in non-chaotic environments that allow them to focus on how they can best put their skills to work. At the Pierce Foundation, 70 percent of our grantmaking takes the form of general op grants, and 30 percent is for specific capacity-building projects, from upgrades to CRMs and donor management software to consultant support for succession planning.

2. Offer an outside advisor for HR projects. Outside advisors can provide an objective review of a grantee's staff organizational chart, job descriptions, compensation levels, and personnel policies. We offer general workshops on topics such as "What Are You Paying and Why." We also offer private sessions with a consultant for organizations that are looking to revise their organizational chart or salary ranges, or (in a time of budget cuts) trying to combine two jobs into one. An outside advisor can make this process less painful and provide data and expertise that would not otherwise be available to an organization. We began experimenting with what made the most sense in this area because of the conversations our leading support specialist, Kris Torkelson, and Program Director Heather Parish found themselves having with grantees, many of whom did not know where to turn to for nonprofit-specific HR advice (much less a "reality check" with respect to job descriptions or comparables that can be shared with board members often reluctant to spend money on staff development).

3. Share salary data from national and regional surveys. We subscribe to the six or seven major nonprofit salary surveys because we know our grantees can't afford to and/or are unlikely to. One of our consultants combs and sorts through the surveys to identify "comparables" by position, type of organization, etc. and then shares that data with our grantees. This enables grantees to quickly see what organizations doing similar work pay their staff. Exposure to this kind of data often helps an organization understand why its staff turnover is high and can lead to needed adjustments to its salary ranges. We don't stipulate what our grantees should do with this data — that's not our role — but it typically feeds into the case for support made to their boards at budget time, as well as the longer-term planning done to ensure that an organization's ambitions align with its capacity.

4. Look at how you can support the staff. If you fund in a program area, that means you tend to work with a particular set of organizations across an entire field. In our case, it's services for the homeless. Because we kept hearing it was needed, we recently funded an expert to create a training manual that equips new shelter workers with what they need to know about current thinking and best practices in the field. We've also done simple things like covering the costs of outings, dinners, and other types of support for staffers whose jobs mean they deal with extraordinary trauma on a daily basis and rarely get a break.

5. Invest in peer support for your grantees. This could be an occasional roundtable for IT staff or an ongoing program like Peer Skill Share, which we created to match our grantees with counterparts at other organizations for one-to-one problem solving and professional development sessions. Support for peer learning helps build networks and is a cost-effective way for grantees to gain new skills and knowledge while reinforcing how much talent and experience is available to them within their existing networks.

6. Send your EDs to boot camp. Sponsor new executive directors' attendance at "boot camps" for new CEOs, which are often available through a local university, nonprofit support organization, or leadership program. If your resources allow, you can also support programs for staff in other key positions. For example, we pay a facilitator to host our Top Talent Institute, a six-month professional development program for senior nonprofit managers that is part roundtable, part learning circle, and part technical assistance. We believe efforts like this help keep talent in the sector and better prepare future EDs for the roles they may take on down the road.

7. Take note of and fill gaps around training offerings. It's often much easier for nonprofit managers and executives to find a workshop about how to write a proposal than to find one that teaches them what they need to know about supervising staff after they've suddenly been promoted or how to hire and fire. Workshops dedicated to human resource issues — and that take into account nonprofit culture and realities — tend to be few and far between. In fact, we've created many for our own grantees, and they are always the best attended of all the workshops we provide.

8. Subscribe to a pro bono legal service. These services might be available through local law firms or others in the legal services field. We pay an annual membership fee for a group of our grantees to be part of an over-the-phone advice line run by a law firm that offers grantees free access to an HR attorney, basic HR templates, sample personnel policies, etc. Remember: Many, if not most, nonprofits do not have the connections that would enable them to identify a pro bono attorney and do not have an in-house HR director who can stay up to date with current protocols, best practices, regulations, and so on.

9. Set aside an annual allowance exclusively for professional development. Our core grantees get a $2,000 stipend to apply as they see fit to professional development, which can include conference registrations, training fees, professional memberships, coaching, etc. When nonprofits are forced to cut budgets, professional development is often the first line item to go. A grant specifically earmarked for professional development reimbursement or support helps preserve this critical aspect of a nonprofit's operations and helps staff stay current, connected, and empowered.

The strategies outlined above do not require enormous investments of dollars or time, merely a willingness to see nonprofit staff as key to building the kinds of effective organizations we all want to see achieving goals we all share. We believe investing in staff and staff development is essential to achieving the outcomes any nonprofit hopes to deliver. After all, you can't get a meal without a kitchen, or the cooks who prepare it.

[Editor's Note: The Fund the People Toolkit recommended above is a free resource that details how to maximize investment in the nonprofit workforce and features the Pierce Family Foundation in its "case studies" section.]


What’s New at Foundation Center (March)

March 14, 2018

FC_logoI'm shoveling out from endless snow (or slush, as it's quickly becoming) to bring you this latest update in our monthly series focused on what we're learning about the social sector, where we're speaking, the data we're collecting, and how you can contribute to those efforts. Here's more on what we were up to in February:

Projects Launched

  • Our annual Columbus Survey launched on CF Insights. This survey collects data about financial trends and operational activity at community foundations in the United States. Explore last year's results dashboard to get a snapshot of the community foundation landscape!
  • We now offer ebooks you can borrow for free to read on your device! View our collection and create a free account on the main Catalog of Nonprofit Literature homepage.

Content Published

What We're Excited About

  • Our dedicated amazing GrantSpace specialist Sandy Pon was selected as one of 2018's 50 Movers and Shakers by Library Journal. Nominated as a "digital developer," Sandy addresses the critical (and free!) information literacy needs of the nonprofit and social sector every day through our Grantspace.org platform and our Ask Us service. Congratulations to one of our game-changing librarians!
  • Our soon-to-be released GrantCraft guide on knowledge sharing to strengthen grantmaking.
  • Our women-powered work.
  • Thanks to the generous support of the Doll Family Foundation and the William J. and Dorothy K. O'Neill Foundation, Foundation Center Midwest will conclude its 40th Anniversary celebration series with a nod to the future of philanthropy. The special program, "Meet the Changemaker: Next GEN Givers, Doers & Innovators," will take place on Saturday, April 7, at our Foundation Cenrer Midwest Cleveland office.
  • We've answered over 1,500 questions about nonprofit management and the social sector more broadly through our online chat since January. (Have a question? Ask!)
  • We're giving GrantSpace — our website geared to grantseekers — a makeover so that it's easier to find what you're looking for. Keep your eyes peeled for the new site in April.
  • Foundation Center Northeast (our New York office) will be hosting a series of workshops this year as part of a grant award from the Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund. These awards are made in order to provide capacity-building services for selected nonprofits led by and serving communities of color across New York City's five boroughs. If you're an eligible nonprofit that did not apply for 2018, we would love to discuss partnering with you to apply for a grant for 2019. For more information e-mail Kate Amanna Demcsak, New York lead, at kva@foundationcenter.org.
  • We have a newly improved and easy way to tell your story through our Foundation Center Updater. Keep us up-to-date on the work of your organization!

A Few Projects in the Pipeline

  • In partnership with the Ford Foundation, a project to expand the data on local philanthropy in India.
  • In partnership with Native Americans in Philanthropy, a project to build a web portal featuring philanthropic funding related to — and by — Native peoples.

For more on these projects or how to work with us, send us an email.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be speaking/appearing at these upcoming events:

Our staff will be attending and/or exhibiting at these events:

Data Spotlight

  • 236,716 new grants added to Foundation Maps in February, of which 9,865 grants were made to 6,571 organizations outside the U.S.
  • New data sharing partners: Henry County Community Foundation, REI Corporate Giving Program, Samuel N. and Mary Castle Foundation, and the Philip L. Van Every Foundation
  • Illegal fishing accounts for about 20 percent of the world's catch, costing up to $23.5 billion a year. See more on our featured landscape, FundingTheOcean.org.

Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email! I’ll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

[Review] The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development

March 12, 2018

It has become axiomatic within the development community that educating women and girls is the most effective way to alleviate poverty and accelerate development in the Global South. Promoted in the early 1990s by economists such as Elizabeth King, T. Paul Schultz, and former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers, the approach has since been adopted by the most powerful multilateral development institutions, including the United Nations, the World BankUSAID, and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development.

Book_the_gender_effectThe approach was given a boost in 2008, when the Nike Foundation, the main philanthropic vehicle of global sports apparel manufacturer Nike, launched a simple, powerful animated video titled the "Girl Effect," which argued that by sending a poor girl in a developing country to school, you put her in a position to secure a loan to purchase a cow, the profits from which could help her family and be used to buy more cows, until one day she had a herd, the profits from which could be used to bring clean water to her village, which would lead men in the village to invite her to the village council, where she would convince them that all girls have value. The video went viral, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But what if it isn't that simple? In The Gender Effect: Capitalism, Feminism, and the Corporate Politics of Development, Kathryn Moeller takes a deep dive into that question and finds plenty of worrisome contradictions. An assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Moeller argues that the real effect of significant corporate investment in the empowerment of girls and women has been to mask the historical and structural conditions that perpetuate poverty in the Global South and to de-politicize the demands for fair-labor practices and a more equitable economic order by the very women and girls such investment purports to empower. Indeed, by focusing on the economic potential of adolescent girls, Moeller writes, "[t]he Girl Effect...transfers the onus of responsibility for change away from governments, corporations, and global governance institutions whose actions have led to the unequal distribution of resources and opportunities that disproportionately affect the lives and well-being of girls, women, and the poor around the world."  

Based on extensive fieldwork conducted with the Nike Foundation, its partners and grantees, program participants, and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) — where she helped organize a session on "Investing in Women and Girls"  — Moeller finds that, in the case of the Girl Effect, the primary outcome of what she terms the "corporatized development" model has been the strengthening of Nike's legitimacy and market power without a concomitant examination of its outsourcing practices — practices that, she writes, exploit "poor, racialized female labor" and famously led, in the 1990s, to strikes and protests against the company.

To prove her point, Moeller outlines the history of and discourse around investing in women and girls, an approach predicated on the concepts of "bottom billion" capitalism, philanthrocapitalism, gender equality, and "Third World difference" (the latter defining the post-colonial adolescent girl as both victim of gender oppression and solution to economic development). In this paradigm, women and girls are seen as "instruments" that generate the highest return on investment within a development context because they tend to be "rational, efficient economic actors" willing to invest more of their income in their families and communities than are men.

By embedding corporate social responsibility and philanthropy into their core business strategies, she notes, corporations like Nike both design and benefit from this kind of corporatized development. The Nike Foundation's decision to focus on adolescent girls and, later, to launch the Girl Effect with financial support from the NoVo Foundation and the United Nations Foundation "was a noncontroversial way to redirect public attention away from ongoing labor strikes and campaigns against the corporation in order to secure its social license to operate and, correspondingly, its financial bottom line." Fortune 500 companies with public relations problems such as ExxonMobil, Goldman Sachs, and Walmart followed suit, promoting programs targeting women and girls at confabs like the Clinton Global Initiative and the annual meetings of the World Economic Forum, creating, as she puts it, "the spectacle of empowering girls and women." Eventually, the increasingly popular idea of "doing well by doing good" enabled corporations to "reconstitute themselves as benevolent institutional actors" even as they were refocusing their philanthropy in ways that helped open new markets, increased market share, and promised a return on their investments.  

This is a problem for Moeller. By focusing on women and girls as a means to grow markets and profits, "corporations are investing in, rather than transforming, existing inequities across multiple axes of difference — gender, racial, class, religious, and geographic — even as they claim to be ameliorating them." Indeed, when pursued to its conclusion, the logic behind the Girl Effect model makes adolescent girls of color in the Global South disproportionately responsible for both market expansion and local economic development through their "unpaid social reproductive labor, anticipated professional or entrepreneurial labor, and increased consumption practices."  

The book illustrates in great detail how, within the Nike Foundation initiative, the foundation's need to prove its theory of change translated into a narrow focus on helping adolescent girls become employable and avoid pregnancy (a condition that diminishes their ability to contribute to local economic development). Moeller describes how one Brazilian grantee of the Nike Foundation changed its educational programming to exclude young men, young women who were pregnant or already had children, and women over the age of 24, and steered participants' career goals away from jobs requiring higher education credentials and toward things like administrative assistant positions, for which low-income girls of color were more likely to be hired. Moreover, in seeking to demonstrate that its model worked, the foundation imposed on grantees a reductive image of which girls had potential, while precluding efforts to address the educational, social, and economic inequities that girls and young women in those communities faced.

Moeller's criticisms extend to the methodologies employed to demonstrate the model's efficacy and justify its budget. As part of its efforts to collect data from beneficiaries around "universal indicators," for example, the Nike Foundation required participants to complete detailed questionnaires at the beginning and conclusion of the program that included questions about their income, assets, education, sexual experiences, attitudes toward gender norms, social integration and friendships, and exposure to violence. Not only did this monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methodology objectify adolescent girls as data in an experiment they had not fully consented to, Moeller argues, it also ignored many of the local, cultural, and individual contexts in which outcomes often contradicted the model's logic.  

At one point, Moeller even quotes a Nike Foundation partner as saying that "they play a little fast and loose from what they can actually say from the data." That tendency caused tensions with the International Center for Research on Women, which in the early stages of the initiative had provided the foundation with its expertise — a collaboration that ended when the foundation decided to keep its M&E knowledge to itself. But by then the foundation had leveraged its new-found expertise and relationships with multilateral organizations enough to see the Girl Effect model institutionalized by the World Bank.  

Given the Girl Effect's limitations as a philanthropic endeavor — "traditional development partners were not operating at the speed or providing the return the foundation sought" — and its unstated focus on expanding corporate profits, it seems inevitable that the Nike Foundation's efforts would conclude in 2014 with the Girl Effect Accelerator, a program designed to help social entrepreneurs envision women and girls in developing countries as future consumers and secure funding for enterprises designed to serve that burgeoning market. The accelerator, writes Moeller, "enabled the foundation to move from talking about girls as engines of development and an emerging market…to being intimately involved in the making…of girls as a new capitalist frontier."  Spun off by Nike and the foundation in 2015 as an independent social enterprise based in London, the Girl Effect no longer is constrained from promoting for-profit endeavors — and Nike is no longer the target of questions about its supply chain labor practices.

Written in a dense academic style, heavy on theory, and brimming with quotes from Michel Foucault, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, and dozens of other scholars, activists, and anonymized foundation staff and grantees, The Gender Effect is not an easy read. It is, however, a sobering and thought-provoking examination of something many of us in the Global North have taken for granted: the unquestioned benefit and feminist appeal of the Girl Effect model. For all the talk of the billions of dollars that closing the gender gap will "unlock" for the global economy, maybe it's time we asked tough questions about how we can truly invest in women and girls to address the myriad inequities they continue to face, instead of framing the perpetuation of those inequities as empowerment.

Kyoko Uchida is PND's features editor. For more great reviews, visit the Off the Shelf section in PND.

#TimesUp for the Nonprofit Gender Gap

March 09, 2018

Donor_perfect_workbook_for_womenFrom limited leadership roles to unequal pay to sexual harassment, the nonprofit community is coming to terms with its own #MeToo moment.

As a national conversation takes place around women’s issues, the surprising lack of gender diversity in nonprofit leadership along with the issues that surround it can no longer be overlooked.

For a sector that is largely funded and staffed by women, the numbers are troubling. While women make up about 73 percent of all nonprofit employees, they only hold 45 percent of nonprofit CEO roles. When it comes to pay, women nonprofit CEOs make just 66 percent of what their male counterparts make.

Fortunately, many nonprofits are having open discussions and taking action to promote gender equity in and beyond their organizations. 

In support of this crucial initiative, DonorPerfect partnered with five inspiring women who rose to the top of their organizations to create The Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women. This free downloadable guide commemorates Women's History Month in March, and every day, and offers a platform for these leaders to pass along what they believe it takes for more women in the nonprofit sector to ascend the ranks.

“This shift of power is so critically important. This shift in presence is so critically important,” says Marcia Coné, workbook contributor, author, and women’s advocate. “What follows is a shift in action, education, and understanding. It’s about balance and finding that there is space for both men and women to thrive, for both men and women to be safe.”

The Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women is designed to help women develop and demonstrate their skills, build their personal brands, expand their professional networks, and speak up to get what they really want — in and beyond the office. Its exercises challenge readers to set goals and create an action plan to achieve them. 

“She who dares, wins. There are so many rules and best practices in the nonprofit world, but if you sit back and follow every rule, you'll never be able to do what needs to be done within your organization,” says founder and CEO of Evoluer House and workbook contributor Cheryl Ann Wadlington. “Trust and creativity matters because doing the same thing the same way as everyone else is not going to cut the mustard and move your mission forward.”

From professional polish to the often overlooked art of self-care, the next wave of nonprofit leaders needs to tailor their growth in ways that reflect their unique wants, goals, strengths, and characteristics. 

Nonprofit leadership requires a vision, the ability to bring people together, and a knack for assembling a team of people who complement one another’s strengths.

Workbook contributor Tycely Williams, vice president of development at YWCA USA, says, “This initiative’s goal is to serve up an actionable and achievable plan to inspire women to lead with clarity, compassion, and renewed confidence. Regardless of where you are or where you want to be — these tips will help you achieve or sustain your leadership success.”

Among the many traits exhibited by successful leaders are excellent communication skills, a willingness to work on both strategy and execution, strong business acumen, flexibility, and an unwavering commitment to the task at hand.

In addition to professional development, the workbook addresses how to balance the many roles women play outside the office. “It’s so easy for modern women to get in that space where you’re just everything to everyone all the time,” says Coné. “We need to teach women and girls that ‘You matter and you need to take care of yourself, because that way you’ll have more to give to those around you’.”

The nonprofit community needs diverse perspectives, experience, and skills if it hopes to see wonderful causes around the world flourish. That change can only begin when women are empowered to rise up and serve a mission in roles that suit them best.

Download a free copy of Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women.

EmilyRosePatzEmily Rose Patz is the lead writer of The Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women at DonorPerfect, a company that helps nonprofits engage with donors via software tools for fundraising and cultivation. She often writes about fundraising and donor engagement best practices, inspiring growth stories, and trending topics in the nonprofit community.

A Conversation With Nicky Goren, President and CEO, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

March 06, 2018

Founded in 1944 by investment banker and Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer — who later served as head of the War Finance Corporation, chair of the Federal Reserve, and founding president of the World Bank — and his wife, Agnes, a journalist, author, literary translator, and activist (President Lyndon Johnson credited her for helping build public support for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965), the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C., has supported efforts over the years to address racial inequity, urban poverty, and government funding (or lack thereof) for critical needs.

Nicky Goren was appointed president and CEO of the foundation in 2014, succeeding Julie L. Rogers, who had served in that position for twenty-eight years. Before joining the foundation, Goren had served as president of the Washington Area Women's Foundation and acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. In 2015 the foundation unveiled a new strategic plan focused on achieving greater racial equity in housing, education, employment, and asset building.

PND recently spoke with Goren about the process the Meyer Foundation initiated in 2014 to develop and implement a racial equity agenda, the importance of doing that work "authentically," and some things foundations new to the space should keep in mind.

Headshot_nicky_gorenPhilanthropy News Digest: While the Meyer Foundation has long supported efforts to advance equality and break the cycle of poverty for individuals and families, the foundation's 2015 strategic plan zeroes in on the "structural and causal" link between poverty and race. How did the focus on poverty and race come about? Were those discussions already happening at the foundation when you were appointed president and CEO in 2014?

Nicky Goren: At the organizational level, the conversations about race, about racism and its connection to poverty, were not yet happening when I got here. I think individual program officers from time to time had incorporated that connection into their portfolios, but it was not an organizational priority at the leadership level.

I came to the foundation with the point of view that those of us who work in philanthropy really needed to move out of our silos, move beyond thinking about grantmaking as a largely transactional activity, and think differently about how we do our work. And in my initial listening sessions as the new CEO, I was trying to understand where the opportunities were for us to deepen our impact and partnerships in the community and what the big issues were. It became clear to me pretty quickly that the big issue at the meta level was wealth inequality, and that the drivers of inequality in the region were disparities in housing, education, workforce skills, and asset building, and that the through line in all those areas was the history and legacy of systemic racism. From those community conversations it was clear that people were eager to move beyond incremental change to real transformation, which meant looking at things at the population level, which meant looking at root causes, which meant embracing systems change — and confronting racism and its role in creating and perpetuating these disparities. There was no way around it: to do our work authentically, we would have to address systemic racism.

PND: You came to Meyer from the Washington Area Women's Foundation, which focuses on improving the economic security of women and girls in the D.C. region. Did your work there inform the things you are doing at Meyer to advance racial equity?

NG: Definitely. That was the first time I was part of an organization that was using any kind of an equity lens, in that case a gender equity lens. And I was energized by what I learned in terms of the barriers to equality that women face. But in this region, low-income women are most often women of color, and the question started coming up more and more, from both funders and the communities we were working in: "Do you look at the work of the Women's Foundation through an intersectional gender and racial equity lens?" Well, it got me thinking and really helped me ask the right questions when I got to Meyer.

As for the intersectionality of economic and racial equity, at Meyer we've come to understand that the main reason for the persistent economic disparities in our region — and in other urban areas across the country — is racism. And if we don't name it and tackle the systems that perpetuate it — the institutions, policies, practices, and norms around race that lead to these economic disparities — we'll never be able to really address the challenges that low-income communities of color are facing. Naming it and looking at those challenges through a racial lens forces you to ask different questions and come up with different solutions, solutions that are more focused on the long-term and persistent barriers faced by people of color. It's about understanding the role race has played in our region's history and in our country's history so that the solutions you put in place really do make a difference in terms of addressing those disparities.

PND: In a blog post last December, you noted two significant developments in the foundation's efforts to integrate a racial equity lens into its work: the decision to focus on eliminating racial disparities in housing, employment, education, and asset building; and a decision to tackle the root causes of racial inequity and work toward systems change. In concrete terms, how has moving to a systems-change approach affected the way you work?

NG: We're still very much at the beginning of this — we just released the revised guidelines and newly restated goals with equity embedded in them at the beginning of the year, and our first grant cycle under the new framework just opened on February 15. So in terms of what we're seeing and how it will affect our work in the long term, I can't say. But the way we're thinking about it is that moving to a systems-change approach means we'll be supporting more community organizing, community-based and -led organizations, and community-driven advocacy and problem solving. We'll be promoting more collaborative approaches. And we'll be looking across a spectrum of systems-change efforts that, under our old framework, community-based organizations in the region might not have known about or might not have been eligible for.

For organizations that are already deeply embedded in the community and working on systems change in communities of color, we'll continue to provide a range of capacity-building support, from strategic planning to communications development to HR. And for organizations that are not there yet but want to build their racial equity capacity, we'll invest in training, consultants, and so on.

PND: Earlier this month you welcomed Terri D. Wright as vice president for program and community. In that role, Ms. Wright will oversee all the foundation's programmatic activities. You're also looking to fill the newly created position of senior director of strategy and racial equity. How do you see the reorganization suggested by these personnel changes driving your racial equity work?

NG: We're so excited that Terri has joined our team; she brings exactly what we were looking for in terms of experience and background in advancing racial and social equity through policy, practice, and management across multiple sectors. She's led and developed programs; she's tackled the social determinants of health, which are interrelated and are things we'll be working on; and she was at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with Dr. Gail Christopher as Kellogg was going through its own racial equity journey.

My vision for the senior director position is to have someone who can drive the focus on equity in our own institution and systems and practices as we continue to evolve. That person will also help the board build its capacity around racial equity and systems change, will link those things with team building and training and organizational development more broadly, and will be available to nonprofits that are going down the racial equity path and need guidance or technical assistance.

In terms of program staff, when we approved the strategic plan back in 2015, even before we fully understood what our racial equity work would look like, we acknowledged that all the work we're doing is very local and contextual. So we reorganized ourselves in early 2016 around geography, moving away from the more traditional model of having a program officer for health and a program officer for employment to having program directors based on geography — one for Maryland, one for northern Virginia, and one for the District. That's because all the issues we're working on are interconnected — you can't tackle one and hope to succeed without addressing the others. And they're contextual in terms of policy, the players, where the opportunities are to bring people to the table, and who those people are. The new structure allows our directors to be much more immersed in and connected with their respective communities, in that they're meeting people where they live, literally, and learning firsthand who's doing what and identifying ways to leverage our resources at a much more grassroots level.

PND: What other organizational changes are you implementing as part of your focus on racial equity?

NG: When we included tackling systemic racism as a goal in our strategic plan at the end of 2015, we saw it as a way to initiate conversations both internally and externally about what that would mean. And for the next year and half, we spent time on internal education, building a shared language and understanding, and deepening our ability to have these conversations about race. The board did the same; we did some staff trainings; we spent time looking at other foundations to see what they had done. We started figuring out how to incorporate racial equity into culture-building work. We also had a number of staff retreats that surfaced issues we weren't aware of that have changed the way we think about the way we work. One thing we heard in those retreats was a desire for the foundation to be less hierarchical, and as a result my leadership team has gone from three people to five people, which has broadened the perspectives available to all of us and made it easier for us to work in cross-organizational teams.

We also took a hard look at and changed the way we hire — in fact, I have a post on the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers' blog about the four things we did to ensure that our practices lead to more staff diversity. At the same time, the board has changed the way it recruits, increased the number of board members, and changed the term limits of board members so as to bring on new members more quickly. We've also looked at how we select our vendors and at our personnel policy — some of this work is ongoing, of course, but we've been at it since the end of 2015.

PND: You've written that "[r]ace-neutral efforts, to date, have not been effective. It's time to confront racism head-on as we identify solutions." Do you think the philanthropic sector, broadly speaking, is coming to the same conclusion?

NG: There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. We're seeing a lot of exciting developments locally and nationally in the philanthropic sector around racial equity; there isn't a single national convening I've been to in the last year where racial equity hasn't been the focus of at least one session, if not one of the major themes. Clearly, there's a growing demand for and interest in this conversation. As we went through our own process, we looked to other foundations for models — foundations that were much farther down the road on their own journeys like the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and the Weingart Foundation and the Hyams Foundation and the Meyer Memorial Trust — all of which have been engaged in this work and understand why it's imperative. Locally, WRAG took this on two years ago when it put together a series for philanthropic leaders in the region called "Putting Racism on the Table" and, over a period of six months, walked participants through the process of creating a shared understanding of systemic racism, implicit bias, and white privilege, culminating with Dr. Gail Christopher talking about how a foundation can incorporate racial equity into its work. I believe that effort has had a ripple effect across the sector, across other sectors as well, so that racial equity is becoming more openly discussed and broadly accepted and increasingly adopted. I just had a meeting with a local elected official who is putting together a cross-sectoral group to figure out how to incorporate a racial equity lens into government.

Given the history of philanthropy in this country, we need to understand the role it has played in helping to perpetuate some of the challenges we face and rethink how we go about our work. I don't know that philanthropy has fully acknowledged where the wealth came from that created so many of our endowments; in many cases we see the private sector investing in things that keep communities of color at an economic disadvantage, and then philanthropy is called on to "fix" it by funding direct services. But if we really want to make a difference, we need to talk about systems change, and that inevitably leads you into a conversation about race. That's okay. The more we have those conversations, the more our eyes will be opened to the privilege that so many of us have, the systems we've put in place to preserve that privilege, and how we might think differently about our work. And because many of our boards are made up of people from outside the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, taking those boards through this journey has a ripple effect, I think, on other sectors. 

I'm proud as someone who works in philanthropy to say that, increasingly, we're seeing philanthropic institutions use their voice in ways that they might not have in the past. The most recent example involved the heads of the Heinz Endowments and Pittsburgh Foundation co-authoring an op-ed in response to an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a way that tackles systemic racism head on and that some might see as political, though I didn't read it that way. It's one of many signs that the philanthropic sector is moving in the right direction.

PND: How have the Trump administration's policies affected the foundation's work?

NG: We started down this path eighteen months before the last presidential election, and we'd decided on the goals and focus areas before that, but the current political climate merely reaffirms for us that we made the right decision. It's as important, if not more so, today to focus on racial inequities and disparities in society and rise to the challenge that doing something, once and for all, to address the plight of economically disadvantaged Americans, who are disproportionately people of color.

One thing that did happen post-election is that we partnered with the Greater Washington Community Foundation and other funders to create the Resilience Fund, which we put in place specifically to fund the critical needs of nonprofits working to support the communities in our region most vulnerable to changes in federal policy. We've far exceeded our original goal of raising $500,000, and we're going to extend the effort through at least the end of the year and possibly through 2020. The first round of funding awarded through the fund supported a number of organizations working with immigrant communities on immigration issues and DACA and responding to the Muslim travel ban. We also made a series of grant to address the increase in hate and intolerance and the climate of bullying that has emerged in a huge way since the election, as well as digital news literacy in schools. More things will be funded as issues emerge — we're paying attention to the impact of changes in tax law and health care, for example, and will be looking for opportunities where an infusion of philanthropic dollars could make a difference.

PND: The Meyer Foundation mostly awards annual general operating support grants and, on a case-by-case basis, program support as well as multiyear and capital grants. Why are general operating support grants the right tool for advancing racial equity?

NG: I would say that general operating support grants are the right tool for philanthropy in general. They give our grantee partners maximum flexibility, and in the case of racial equity that's often what's needed to advance solutions. Dictating how grant funds can or can't be used ties the hands of nonprofits, and part of equity, of course, is sharing power. General operating support puts the power of deciding how best to use grant funds in the hands of grantees, where it belongs. Even if we had decided not to go down the racial equity path, we'd have remained a predominantly general operating support funder, but especially when we're talking about equity, it's the way to go.

PND: What recommendations or lessons learned can you share with other grantmakers that are thinking about adopting a racial equity lens in their work?

NG: We could literally write a book about it. But we're still in the early innings, so I might have a different answer for you a year from now. The first thing I would say is that it's important to understand where your organization is in terms of its evolution, what its history is, who your staff are, and what its capacities are. As I said earlier, I don't think we could've authentically started this work at the Meyer Foundation without first doing the kind of serious internal examination that we did. Maybe other organizations can: WRAG stepped out with its "Putting Racism on the Table" series and made it a core part of its programming, but now, two years later, it is taking a step back and saying, "If we're really serious about this, we need to look at ourselves." I think that's a good decision. They saw an opportunity, and it was the right opportunity at the time, and they took advantage of it in a positive way, and now they're realizing they have more work to do. I don't think there's a right or wrong approach to this; you just need to understand who you are and, at some point, do the internal work — whether it's at the beginning, the middle, or the end will depend on the organization. But to do racial equity work authentically, that's what needs to happen.

I totally get that people may be scared. We've taught ourselves that it's not "polite" to talk about racism and the wide disparities it has created in society. It's hard, no question about it. And real change is going to take longer than perhaps we'd like, and there will be bumps in the road. But if every individual and institution started to have these conversations today, if every individual and every institution started with themselves, it would change the way we work and ten years from now we would find ourselves in a very different place. You learn so much about things that have gone unspoken, taken for granted, or that we've never learned about once you start talking openly and sharing and learning together. Yes, there will be hard moments — a lot of them — but you have to keep pushing through. The next conversation will be a little easier, and so will the one after that; it's like building a muscle.

It's imperative that we do this work. Yes, it's hard, and it may take a lifetime, but I've seen and learned enough over the last few years to know that we don't have a choice. We must do this work, and we must do it now.

— Kyoko Uchida

Weekend Link Roundup (March 3-4, 2018)

March 04, 2018

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

African Americans

Writer and activist Alicia Garza, who helped found the Black Lives Matter movement, in partnership with the Center for Third World OrganizingColor of Change, Demos, Socioanalitica Research, and Tides Foundation, has announced the launch of the Black Census Project, which hopes to talk to 200,000 black people from diverse backgrounds about their hopes, dreams, and needs by August 1. African Americans in participating can take the first step and fill out the online census.

Arts and Culture

ArtsPlace funders have released a statement on the Trump administration's 2019 federal budget request.

Climate Change

Nonprofit Chronicles Marc Gunther published an op-ed about climate philanthropy, and its failure to drive real progress on the issue, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy a few weeks ago. The Chronicle has given him permission to repost it on his own blog, here


This should come as a surprise to no one: in a statement released earlier this week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called Betsy DeVos "the worst Secretary of Education this country has ever seen — by a large margin. Secretary DeVos has spent her first year bending over backwards to allow students to be cheated, taking an axe to public education, and undermining the civil rights of students across the country. [She] has failed in her job and she must be held accountable." Mother Jones's Edwin Rios has the details.

Higher Education

Public colleges and universities are facing a perfect storm of existential challenges over the next decade, and institutions in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are the canaries in the coal mine. Lee Gardner reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education.


The Pew Research Center's Fact Tank has put together an excellent primer on U.S. immigration policy and proposed changes to those policies.


What's the first reaction many of us have when we learn that someone is thinking about starting a nonprofit? "Don't!" But maybe, says Nonprofit AF's Vu Le, we should lighten up a little bit and recognize that there will always be "well-intentioned individuals who feel [the] burning desire to found their own nonprofit. Persuading them to not do it may work in a few instances, but if we want systemic change, we need to look at this holistically." 

What can staff at nonprofits do to counteract the negative actions of a nonprofit leader who "begins to believe that she (and only she) cares enough, knows enough, or is enough to fix the massive problem she cares so deeply about [aka a Nonprofit Savior]"? Social Velocity's Nell Edgington has some good suggestions.


Mark Zuckerberg has sold $357 million of stock this month, part of plans to unload up to $12 billion to help fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

On the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers blog, Nicky Goren, president and CEO of the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, shares four recommendations as they relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion in hiring.

How will the rise of the millennials change philanthropy? Forbes contributor Jeff Fromm shares the perspectives of Rebecca Laramée, chair of Future Sinai at the Sinai Health Foundation, and Anita Strohm, vice president at Crossroads Communications.

On the HistPhil blog, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, an assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, launches a new forum on the history of conservative philanthropy with a post that looks at how wealthy conservative donors and political entrepreneurs built up the infrastructure that positioned the GOP to take over statehouses and state legislatures across the country.

Are there more radical ways to improve openness in grantmaking that would benefit both funders and grantees? The Center for Effective Philanthropy's Kevin Bolduc thinks a transparency movement in the medical field called OpenNotes may have hit on some benefits that translate fairly directly to the grantee-funder relationship. 

Got something you'd like to share? Dro p us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Newman's Owns Gets a New Life

March 02, 2018

Newmans_own_logoOn February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Philanthropic Enterprise Act of 2017 as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The new law allows private foundations to own 100 percent of a business under certain conditions. The bill was championed by Newman's Own Foundation, which owns 100 percent of No Limit, LLC, the for-profit company that produces and sells the Newman’s Own-branded line of food products. The new law allows the foundation to maintain 100 percent ownership of No Limit, assuring that all profits of the company will continue to go to charity.

Newman’s Own Foundation needed the new law to avoid a requirement that it divest itself of at least 80 percent of No Limit under the "excess business holdings rule" of Internal Revenue Code Section 4943. The excess business holdings rule generally prohibits a private foundation from owning more than 20 percent of a for-profit company. It imposes extreme penalties on a foundation that are equal to twice the value of the holdings above the 20 percent limitation. In most cases, this will completely destroy the value of the “excess” holdings to the foundation. The new law creates an exception to the excess business holdings rule for foundations that own 100 percent of a business and devote all profits to charity.

Foundations that acquire more than 20 percent of a company normally have a five-year deadline to sell their excess holdings before the penalties apply. Newman’s Own originally faced that deadline in 2013 but was able to get a five-year extension that would have expired this year. The passage of the new law relieves Newman's Own from the requirement that it divest itself of No Limit, meaning it can continue operating as it always has without interruption.

New law, new rules

The new law, Section 4943(g) of the Internal Revenue Code, permits a private foundation to own 100 percent of a company under the following conditions:

1. The foundation must own 100 percent of the shares. There cannot be any other shareholders, and the shares must have been donated to the foundation or acquired in some manner other than by purchase.

2. All profits must go to charity. The company has to distribute 100 percent of its net operating income to the foundation within 120 days of the end of each fiscal quarter. Net operating income is defined as gross income minus taxes, deductions directly attributable to the production of income, and an amount for a reasonable reserve.

3. The for-profit company is operated independently of the foundation. First, no substantial donor to the foundation can be a director, officer, or employee of the company. A substantial donor is someone who donates more than 2 percent of the foundation's total contributions in a given year, and it includes these who donated shares or anything else of value to the foundation, if their donations exceed 2 percent of contributions to the foundation for the year. Second, a majority of the company's directors have to be persons who are not also on the foundation's board. Finally, the company may not make loans to substantial donors of the foundation.

4. Donor-advised funds  and some supporting organizations, cannot take advantage of the new law. Donor-advised funds and non-functionally integrated Type III supporting organizations are specifically excluded from the new law, thus are still subject to the 20 percent rule.

The new law, which took effect December 31, 2017, opens a world of possibilities for founders of companies that want to devote all profits from their businesses to charity, allowing them to place their companies under the ownership of a private foundation and permanently devote all profits to charity.

One way to adopt this model is to have the founder or the shareholders donate their shares to a foundation. They get a tax deduction for the value of their shares, but no buy-out. Since this is a gift, not a purchase, donating the shares satisfies the requirements of the new rule. The donations can happen anytime or even over time, but the new rule does not apply until 100 percent of the shares have been transferred to the foundation.

Under the new law, a total separation of the two entities is not required. The for-profit company will continue to be governed by its own board and managed by its own managers, with appropriate separation from the foundation. The new law permits the foundation, as the sole shareholder, to appoint the board, and the foundation may also hold other rights, depending on the jurisdiction where it was formed. For example, in many states, a sole shareholder has the right to inspect the books and records of the company and to sue the directors for breach of fiduciary duty (including the duty to pursue a social mission, if the company is a benefit corporation.) The shareholder may also reserve to itself the right to approve mergers, sales of assets, dissolutions, and to veto other fundamental decisions.

Profits of the business will be up-streamed to the foundation in the form of after-tax corporate dividends or, in the case of a pass-through LLC, as partnership distributions, in which case the tax on unrelated business income may apply.

We are sure to see a growing number of private foundations take ownership of profitable businesses as a result of this new law. It also offers another option for founders of mission-oriented companies who want a philanthropic exit that locks mission into the company on a permanent basis.

If you are a social entrepreneur or impact investor and want to know more about this new law and how it might affect you, contact Allen Bromberger (allen@perlmanandperlman.com).

Allen Bromberger_for_PhilanTopicAllen Bromberger is a partner at Perlman & Perlman, which has been providing legal advice to the charitable sector since 1959. This post was originally published on the firm's blog.


Quote of the Week

  • "Women acting on their own can do what all the philanthropic organizations in the world can never accomplish: change the unwritten rule that women are lesser than men. Our role, as we see it, is to make targeted investments that give women the opportunity to write new rules...."

    — Melinda Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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