« May 2020 | Main | July 2020 »

11 posts from June 2020

Uplifting the LGBTQ+ community in the nonprofit sector

June 30, 2020

Pexels-photo-4658052The LGBTQ+ community has had a lot to celebrate during Pride Month. On June 15, in a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, nearly one in five nonprofit employees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or "queer" report that their sexual orientation has had at least a "slightly negative" impact on their career. Thanks to the court's ruling, however, the future looks brighter.

Pride Month is a celebration of LGBTQ+ equality and achievement, but this year, especially, we are reminded that social progress is driven by the passion, commitment, and hard work of thousands upon thousands of ordinary people over time. As our month-long celebration comes to a close, let's remember the actions and courage of the activists who laid the groundwork for the recent Supreme Court decision — and for those who even now are peacefully demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) — and show our support for LGBTQ+ equality, racial and gender justice, and an America where all people, regardless of skin color or sexual orientation, can realize their full potential.

Not sure how to start? Here a few ideas:

Strive to incorporate the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into your nonprofit's operations, and commit to adopting diverse and equitable hiring practices. Obviously, this will be more of a challenge if you aren't a member of the leadership team at your organization or working in a human resources (HR) capacity, but you can and should raise the issue of DEI with your nonprofit's HR department if you feel the organization isn't paying sufficient attention to it. Because LGBTQ+ people have long faced barriers to advancement in the nonprofit sector (as well as other industries), investments in DEI also represent an investment in LGBTQ+ people. And while it's important that nonprofits invest in more equitable and inclusive hiring practices, they should also mandate unconscious bias training for all employees, current and future. Such training helps people identify the implicit biases they may have and act on in their own lives and better position them to address those biases. For example, hiring managers should be encouraged to look for potential candidates outside of their usual networks and can use diversity job boards to do so. For additional DEI tips and advice, Candid's GrantSpace portal is a great place to start and is also an excellent source for LGBTQ+ specific resources.

Support nonprofits already working in the LGBTQ+ space. Even if you're not working at a nonprofit that directly supports the LGBTQ+ community, it doesn't mean you can't have an impact. The end of another Pride Month is the ideal time to step up and support organizations working to promote and uphold LGBTQ+ equality and rights. Know, too, that there isn't one, right way to stand with the LGBTQ+ community. Instead, feel free to participate in virtual Pride events, sign petitions, advocate for LGBTQ+ equality, and donate what you can to charities that champion LGBTQ+ causes. And while you're at it, do what you can to support one of the many nonprofits working to advance the Black Lives Matter movement.

Actively seek out and engage with your professional LGTBG+ peers. Reaching out to and engaging with your LGTBQ+ colleagues can be more helpful than you might imagine, and, besides, it's just a good inclusive practice. The LGBTQ+ community has a long history of trauma and feeling invisible, and as a result LGBTQ+ people (as well as other members of traditionally underrepresented communities) often lack the confidence to publicly express their opinions or feel excluded from important conversations. One way to ensure that all voices in your organization are heard is to actively seek out those voices and include them — and that's especially important if you're in a position of privilege or power. You can do this by individually connecting with different colleagues, and, if you often have the spotlight in meetings, by inviting colleagues who may be reluctant to have their voices heard to contribute their thoughts.

Actively use preferred pronouns in the workplace. Using pronouns (i.e., "she/her/hers," "he/him/his," and "they/them/theirs") that people have chosen for themselves is a sign of respect and an important acknowledgement that you see them for who they are. You and your organization can also encourage their use by including them in email signatures, bios, and name tags. If your organization doesn't already do this, raise the practice with your HR department. It may also be helpful for HR to conduct a training for staff before rolling out a new pronoun policy so that staff understands the rationale for the policy and how pronouns should be used.

Create special interest groups that make it easier for LGBTQ+ people in your organization to connect with one another. At Candid, we have various virtual spaces where staff members belonging to different communities can connect. I personally love the fact that there are different outlets where I and others can express our true, authentic selves. It can be difficult for members of the LGBTQ+ community (and other marginalized groups) to feel comfortable enough to bring their authentic selves into their place of work, so employers should do what they can to make it easier for them to do so and create safe spaces for different communities within their organizations.

Learn, and keep learning. Educate yourself about different aspects of the LGBTQ+ community, including the history of Pride Month and milestones in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. In light of the Black Lives Matter protests, I also urge you to learn about what's happening with the Black LGBTQ+ community. As one activist highlighted in a recent USA Today article that looked at how members of the LGBTQ+ community in Kentucky have stepped up as leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement says: "Pride isn't canceled. It's evolved." It's a statement that rings true for me for two reasons. First, the feel of this year's Pride Month has been different because of COVID-19, with many in-person events cancelled or transitioned to an online format. And two, the focus of many Pride events has shifted to the struggle for racial justice and equity. It's been a huge epiphany for the LGBTQ+ community and Pride, as some of us learn for the first time (and others remember) just how important the civil rights movement and Black activists have been to the struggles of LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month would never have come about without Black LGBTQ+ activists such as Bayard Rustin, Stormé DeLarverie, Audre Lorde, and Marsha P. Johnson. Now it's your turn: here are a few ways you can be an active ally to the Black LGBTQ+ community in the months and years to come.

I do believe our sector has made commendable strides in advancing DEI, but there's still progress to be made with respect to the LGBTQ+ community (and other underrepresented groups). Before I sign off, I want to highlight two groups doing great work in this space. Recent research by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) makes a strong case that foundations need to increase their funding for marginalized communities, as well as social, racial, and economic justice work. And in terms of the LGBTQ+ community specifically, Funders for LGBTQ Issues works to increase the scope and impact of philanthropic resources benefiting the LGBTQ+ community. I encourage LGBTQ+ nonprofit professionals to check out the group's website, which includes a lot of LGBTQ+ focused research, jobs, and funding opportunities.

As we bring down the curtain on another Pride Month, remember: No one is really and truly free until everyone is free, and the impact of Pride shouldn't be restricted to just one month. You should strive to uplift the voices of the LGBTQ+ community, and of other marginalized groups, throughout the year.

VVoPham HeadshotViet "Vee" VoPham (he/him/his) is the marketing specialist for the Networks division at Candid. You can follow him on Twitter at @VVoPham.

Young Americans, racial equity, and the pandemic

June 29, 2020

2020-06-07T082928Z_1842925027_MT1AFL127122807_RTRMADP3_BLM_RALLY_IN_RESPONSE_TO_DEATH_OF_GEORGE-FLOYDRecent events have galvanized tens of thousands of young Americans of all races into becoming active and vocal supporters of Black Lives Matter — a vigorous, positive, can’t-be-ignored movement rooted in the efforts of countless others who have worked hard over decades to address and eliminate racial inequality in American society. The fact that the protests erupted in the midst of a public health crisis that required people to physically distance themselves from others has merely served to reinforce the shared experience of the protestors and made many feel as if they are part of an unstoppable global movement. Most young Americans (ages 18-30) now believe real change is at hand and inevitable.

The research initiative I lead under the Cause and Social Influence banner has been tracking the actions of this cohort in real time since the pandemic began, so when the first protests broke out after the killing of George Floyd, we were able to quickly add research questions specific to the issue of racial inequality. The result is four Influencing Young Americans to Act 2020 reports that reveal the kinds of actions young people have taken since Floyd’s death, as well as some of the other factors that have influenced young people since March.

Here are five key takeaways from the reports:

1. Charitable giving by young Americans is up. At the end of 2019, we asked young Americans what action they preferred to make when they supported social issues; only 9 percent said making a charitable gift. That number had inched up to 10 percent by the time a pandemic was declared in March, and ticked up again, to 12 percent in April, where it stayed in May. We expected this number to continue to tick up as social distancing guidelines remained in place in populated urban areas. Instead, as the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death grew in intensity in late May and early June, we began to see proof of what we have long believed and shared with our readers: passion drives participation. Indeed, during the first week of the protests, one-fifth (20 percent) of survey respondents who self-identified as either white, black, or a person of color made a charitable gift. And the passion we are seeing around the issue has sparked support beyond financial donations, including higher levels of volunteerism and advocacy.

2. Interest in online influencers is up. In the initial stages of the pandemic, family and friends were the major influencers in terms of how young Americans perceived and responded to the public health threat. By mid-April, young Americans were more likely to take their cues from local government, while 60 percent of members of this cohort said they were not looking to celebrities or online influencers/content creators for virus-related information. That started to change in mid-May, by which time the percentage of respondents who aid they were not relying on celebrities or online influencers/content creators for COVID information had fallen to 48 percent. The Black Lives Matter protests drove that number down further, especially among young Black Americans. During the first week of June, the percentage of respondents who said they weren’t turning to online influencers/content creators for information had fallen to 33 percent; broken down by racial group, we found that 43 percent of white respondents and 58 percent of young black respondents were looking to social influencers for news about race-based discrimination, racial inequality, and social injustice.

3. Young Americans trust nonprofits and distrust Donald Trump. As the protests were spreading in earnest in early June, nearly 50 percent of young Americans said they felt President Trump was not addressing racial issues “well at all,” with only 16 percent of white/Caucasian respondents saying he was handling the situation “moderately well.” Majorities of both white and black respondents also said they trust social movements and nonprofits more than the president or government to do what’s right with respect to racial inequality, race-based discrimination, and social injustice — a change from the early days of the pandemic, when local government and nonprofits garnered the highest trust rankings.

4. Purchases and companies can influence change. Over a decade of research, we have watched young Americans use their purchasing power to influence companies and brands to support the causes and social issues they care about. But how and where this cohort spends its money became much more obviously intentional after the 2016 presidential election. In the weeks after the election, we found that more than a third (37 percent) of young Americans had shifted their purchasing patterns in significant ways to align more with their positions on social issues. By 2018, a majority of this group believed their purchasing decisions represented a powerful form of activism, and by this spring, as shutdowns and stay-at-home orders became the rule, young Americans were focused on the economic sustainability of local businesses and the things they could do to help business owners. At the same time, eight out of ten (80 percent) young Americans believe companies can influence public attitudes with respect to behaviors that can help limit the spread of the virus. The same belief is reflected in our June survey, with 74 percent of respondent saying companies can have “a great deal” or “some” influence in addressing race-based discrimination, racial inequality, and social injustice.

5. Young Americans are creating new channels of influence. Younger millennials and Gen Z are the most educated young Americans the country has ever seen, and thanks to technology they have the kind of reach that activists in the past could only dream about. With those tools, we see them working to bring about change by petitioning political representatives, mounting advocacy campaigns, and turning out like-minded voters. They also are supporting brands that embody their values, calling out brands that only give lip service to those values, and directing more money to local and small-business owners. And they are giving to the causes they are passionate about.

The coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd are showing us how rapidly a fundraising and marketing strategy can be turned upside down. How well nonprofits respond in the months to come will depend on their familiarity with and connection to their audiences and their willingness to adjust their fundraising tactics and appeals to meet the moment.

(Credit: Keiko Hiromi/AFLO)

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence. You can read more by Derrick here.

5 Questions for...EunSook Lee, Director, AAPI Civic Engagement Fund

June 25, 2020

Launched in 2014 with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New YorkEvelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Ford Foundationand Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund works to foster a culture of civic participation among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Since its inception, the fund has provided funding to strengthen the capacity of twenty-five AAPI organizations in seventeen states working to inform, organize, and engage AAPI communities and advance policy and systems change. 

EunSook Lee, who has served as director of the fund since its inception, coordinated the 2012 National AAPI Civic Engagement Project for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and, prior to that, served as senior deputy for Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), as executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and as executive director of Korean American Women In Need.

PND spoke with Lee earlier this month about xenophobia and racism in the time of COVID-19, the importance of civic engagement in an election year, and her vision for fostering a greater sense of belonging among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

EunSook Lee_AAPI CEFPND: The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund was created by a group of funders who saw a need to expand and deepen community and civic engagement among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who historically have been both a community of color and a predominantly immigrant and refugee population. After more than a hundred and sixty years of immigration from Asia, why, in 2013, midway through Barack Obama's second term, did the AAPI community become a focus for funders?

EunSook Lee: While we launched the fund in 2013, it was conceived as an idea after the 2012 elections, a season that was emblematic of how funding had flowed in the past to AAPI communities: episodically and chaotically. Just months before the presidential election, a burst of investment came in from civic participation funders and political campaigns in support of efforts to get out the vote in AAPI communities. As part of that influx, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation pledged $1 million for a national project focused on civic engagement and identified National CAPACD as the organization to host the effort.

In a very short period of time, we made grants to dozens of groups, connected them to State Voices and other civic engagement entities for the first time, and provided support where we could to help them execute their plans for the election. With a few exceptions, most AAPI groups had not been sufficiently resourced or supported to develop their infrastructure. We couldn't sit back and hope they would succeed, so we did a bit of everything to help them build the capacity they needed to get the word out in their communities.

We also decided it was important to show how AAPI communities had voted, so we partnered with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education FundLatino Decision, and others to hold a first-of-its-kind multiracial election eve poll that polled Asian Americans in their own languages. The resulting data enabled us to shift the narrative on Asian-American civic engagement, demonstrating that the Asian-American community had turned out in record numbers and that its views on most issues were in alignment with the views of other voters of color.

Following the 2012 elections, a number of funders became interested in pursuing a longer-term effort to build year-round capacity for AAPI groups and put an end to the cycle of episodic funding tied to election cycles. And that's how the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund was born.

PND: The coronavirus pandemic and some of the political rhetoric it has engendered have heightened the visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in ways that have not always been positive or welcome. What are you hearing from grantees about the kinds of challenges they are facing as a result of the public health crisis, and how is the fund responding?

EL:  The challenges resulting from coronavirus are layered. At the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund, we acknowledge how difficult the work is for AAPI groups that may not have the resources or capacity to meet current needs but know they cannot turn their backs on the communities they serve.

Language barriers are a primary obstacle for our partners right now. Local and federal agencies are setting up new programs, processes, and rules as they go, and that basic information is not reaching non-English speakers. Whether it is about applying for unemployment or getting information about small business loans or helping your child with online learning, monolingual AAPIs are navigating a maze with little to no language support. At the same time, physical offices are closed, so those who are not familiar with Zoom or struggle with Internet connectivity are unable to get the information through other means.

After the three Vietnamese papers serving the tri-county Philadelphia area had to shut down due to the coronavirus, Philadelphia-based VietLead and other grassroots groups started making wellness calls to community members. Others are translating support materials and posting them online, holding in-language webinars on Zoom, and posting information on YouTube and Facebook, which are easier for many people to access. Some have also distributed information directly to homes along with drop-offs of basic food supplies. And because those who are undocumented have been unable to access the majority of relief programs, a number of AAPI groups have set up their own cash-relief programs for those who have been left out.

The anti-China rhetoric that began with the Trump administration has exacerbated and exposed longstanding bigotry against Asian Americans in this country. A number of our grantee partners are working with their communities to track incidents of racism, and all have heard from community members who have been subjected to verbal abuse and bullying, denial of service, vandalism, graffiti, and even physical assaults. Some of the cases of discrimination are occurring in the workplace and may be considered civil rights violations. Others rise to the level of a hate crime.

NativeHawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) have been especially impacted on account of existing inequities. One-fifth of NHPIs are uninsured, and in general they suffer from higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Partly because of those factors, the latest figures for California show that NHPIs are nine times more likely to contract COVID-19 and are dying at a disproportionately higher rate than any other group in the state.

We are working to support and amplify the various ways AAPI groups that are responding to this health crisis. We established the Anti-Racism Response Network Fund, which to date has made emergency grants totaling over $1.5 million to an estimated forty groups in twenty states. We are also working with sister funds to direct some of their COVID relief funds to AAPI groups. We also plan to support the online convenings of these groups as they do what they can to support each other, learn about each other's programs, and find ways to collaborate and amplify the voices of progressive AAPIs.

PND: Voter registration and turnout rates among AAPIs, despite being historically lower than those of other populations, have risen in recent years. As highlighted in a 2019 report from the fund and the Groundswell Fund, 76 percent of AAPI women said that they had encouraged friends and family to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. How do you see that trend playing out among the AAPI population in the 2020 elections? And what kind of role do you think AAPI women might play?

EL: The Wisconsin primary was disastrous in terms of protecting the health of voters and running the election efficiently. AAPI groups focused on civic engagement and the empowerment of their communities are vital to advocating for safe, efficient alternatives such as vote by mail, ensuring language access, and getting the vote out. We have heard about a range of systems failures that COVID-19 has exacerbated, especially cases of incompetent leadership at various levels of government. Because our groups are connected to their members, they are best positioned to galvanize them to vote.

More specifically, AAPI women are being recognized as critical organizers and community leaders. Our 2018 Asian American Election Eve Poll talked about how they not only were more active in protests and at the polls but also effectively mobilized others. In fact, twenty of our twenty-two core civic engagement grantees are led or co-led by women. There is no question that AAPI women will continue to power this movement through the 2020 elections and beyond, driving voter turnout and raising awareness about the issues most important to their communities.

PND: AAPIs Connect: Harnessing Strategic Communications to Advance Civic Engagement, a report recently published by the fund, notes that "[t]echnology offers the potential for AAPIs to be more connected with one another and to [the] larger society, but...it also has the potential to exacerbate divisions and create a more disconnected America." How is technology exacerbating division and disconnection within the AAPI community? And what are the biggest challenges AAPI groups face in building capacit — not just in the area of communications, but overall?

EL: At one time, there were a few mainstream media outlets that most Americans relied on for their news. For those who were bilingual or monolingual, in-language media supplemented that access to information. While there is now an explosion of platforms where information and news is being disseminated, some of the critical in-language news outlets are financially unstable or shutting down. Our national conversation has suffered as a result. At the same time, AAPI communities are being left out of many conversations. Not only is there a greater likelihood of our being isolated from the mainstream or from other communities in terms of the information we consume, there's also a greater possibility that we may end up being uninformed or misinformed.

AAPI groups have an opportunity to play a greater role in addressing this disconnect by looking at ways to build their communications infrastructure. But they need support and funding to deepen that work and make an impact on the local, bi-multi-lingual/biliterate, harder-to-reach populations.

As in other areas, AAPI communities and community-based organizations are often playing catch-up. According to our grantee partners, the biggest barrier they face in building communications capacity is a lack of resources. That includes funding to support dedicated staffing, skills building, and tools that equip them to communicate the critical work they are doing in their communities.

That has become a focus for our fund, to support the training and building up of the strategic communications capacity of AAPI groups. Funders can help by dedicating more resources in terms of grants and other learning opportunities so that AAPI groups can establish their media and communications muscle and infrastructure. They can also look at ways to strengthen movement-wide tools and overall creating funding strategies with a racial equity and intersectional justice lens.

PND: Over the course of your career, you've led grassroots nonprofits, served as a congressional staffer, and worked as a consultant to funders. Having observed the process of social change from all those perspectives, what is your number-one recommendation, in this moment of uncertainty, for groups that are looking to bring about social change?

EL: It is essential in this moment that AAPI organizations be seen — and see themselves — as part of this larger movement-moment in an authentic, non-performative way. We cannot be used as a wedge to divide or undermine the focus on systemic racism. We must commit to genuine and radical solidarity over the long term based on an understanding of how freedom for our respective communities is intertwined. We must push forward pro-Blackness in our communities and share analysis on the root causes of anti-Blackness, which is keeping us from true systemic change.

Many AAPI organizing groups are centering Black lives and framing anti-Blackness through the lens of our lived experience. Civil rights and organizing groups are including AAPIs in their efforts to tackle poverty, health inequities, and barriers to reentry for individuals emerging from incarceration. But there is an opportunity in this moment to dig deeper, to acknowledge that your organization may not have done as much as it could have to follow Black leadership and work with organizations that have deep ties to the Black community and have been doing this work for many years.

It is important that AAPI organizations examine our practices and past policy decisions to better align our future actions with our words. We must think more deeply about what it means for organizations to be anti-racist, to tackle systemic inequities, and to embrace an agenda that goes beyond our immediate self-interest. To achieve this, we need more AAPI organizers and social justice organizations, not fewer, better infrastructure and increased capacity, and more financial support for that infrastructure and capacity.  

— Kyoko Uchida

Silence in the social sector

June 24, 2020

SilenceThe recent string of police killings came on the heels of a coronavirus pandemic. Now the training wheels are off and the world is responding to a bigger pandemic: racism. Statements of solidarity are flooding inboxes — including some surprisingly good ones. Brands from babynames.com to NASCAR are taking a stand. The pot has boiled over, creating new allies in the movement.

But we in the social sector who dedicate our lives to fighting injustice every day know that this is nothing new, that although this moment is historic in terms of the unprecedented show of solidarity it has catalyzed, racism in America is centuries old, and ever since their origin as slave patrols, police have been brutalizing Black people. I would like to hold us to a higher standard on social justice than NASCAR, but too many nonprofits and foundations are late to the party, and we need to talk about that.

I'll start. Police have killed more than 5,000 people (disproportionately Native and Black) since 2015. At a rate of 1,000 per year, that's nearly 10,000 deaths since Found in Translation was founded in 2011. But the words "Black Lives Matter" didn't start appearing on our public-facing channels until June 1, 2020.

What took so long?

First, my excuses.

As an organization providing economic mobility through workforce development to immigrant women, we are a direct service organization. Historically, we have limited our activist communications to a small wheelhouse of topics — language access, health disparities, and so on. We've said very little about broader social justice issues (e.g., white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism). I could tell you about how stretched we are as a small team doing big work. I could talk to you about the very real trade-offs between allocating resources to programming versus fundraising versus communications. I could tell you our rationale for focusing on our specific areas of expertise, our own narrow but vital stream feeding the social justice ocean. But those would be excuses.

The reality is that racism affects the women we serve, as well as our team, personally, profoundly, and directly. We have no excuse for not having taken a stance as an organization, visibly and publicly. And I as a leader have no excuse for having compartmentalized my activism to the personal domain when our (bigger, more effective) organizational platform is available.

But the truth is, I am afraid.

I'm afraid of alienating our supporters should they hear what I really want to say. And by supporters, I really just mean funders. Fundraising is a game played according to funders' rules, on funders' turf, and the last thing nonprofit leaders want is to make the game any harder for ourselves. As it is, nearly half of the hardship nonprofits face are funder-created. I've lost count of the number of times, in conversation with a funder, with sums of money that could make or break us on the line, I made the decision to bite my tongue. On one hand, centering donors is standard practice; on the other, it makes us complicit. It makes me complicit. So do I want to be complicit in the very injustice I claim to be fighting, or in jeopardizing our mission with my big mouth?

Dear funders: If I'm being honest, I'm not certain all of you genuinely share my values — that is, are ready to take personal responsibility and organizational responsibility for your role in overlooking or actively perpetuating the inequalities you say you want to solve. And I fear your commitment to our work would not survive an honest conversation. I fear you wouldn't want to talk about the ways you are complicit, because, let's face it, I don't enjoy talking about my own complicity, either. It feels bad. And we, grantseekers and your grantees, go out of our way to avoid making you feel bad. We desperately need you on our side, and so when you make another off-color remark, I summon a smile to cover my cringe. I mentally calculate the power you wield, the damage you can do with a mere decision, and I let you off the hook.

What honesty would look like.

What might an honest conversation look like? It would involve facing the inconvenient truth that private wealth is amassed through exploitation, by employers paying people less than their labor is worth and pocketing the difference. And the inconvenient truth that much of the wealth of this country can be traced back to slavery and pillage. And maybe most inconveniently of all: that being in possession of far more than one's share of our collective wealth is in and of itself an injustice and causes harm. If we were to have an honest conversation about racialized inequity in our sector, we would need to talk about the incompatibility of capitalism and liberation. We would need to talk about how confronting inequity in earnest poses a conflict of interest for you. So instead I talk to you about innovation, about our elegant model and our win-win-win proposition, about our track record, my passion, your ROI.

Here's what I know: If you were to face the origins of your wealth, question the legitimacy of your possession of it, and admit what your wealth costs society, you would fund very differently. You would give more generously, at a level that requires a lifestyle change, because you would prioritize working toward justice over the preservation of your wealth. You would give large, multiyear, general operating grants only, to minimize artificial burdens on your grantees, and to reduce the number of funders an organization needs. You would do away with grant applications (nearly half of grants aren't worth the time they take, according to one calculation) and selection processes that eat up time we'd rather devote to our missions. You would make decisions within days or weeks instead of months. Instead of spending so much time selecting, you would rally your wealthy friends to join you in funding our important work. And you would prioritize funding Black- and Indigenous-led organizations. But even though nonprofits have been asking for these things for years, most funders don't operate this way, and that sends a message about your values.

What's at stake.

Our work transforms the careers and lives of immigrant women, leveraging their language skills into well-paying careers in one of the fastest-growing fields in the U.S. — careers that not only strengthen the women's families and communities, but provide healthcare access to patients made vulnerable by providers' monolingualism. In discussion of the ways race and racism interact with and shape our work, a board member reminds me that the number of Black lives destroyed by police violence is dwarfed by the number of Black lives destroyed by health inequities. She reminds me of forced sterilizations, of the long history of health care being weaponized against Black bodies, of the substandard treatment Black people receive today, so pervasive that not even wealth or celebrity can shield against it (as exemplified by Serena Williams' experience giving birth). She reminds me of the compounded adversities faced by Haitian, Somali, and other Black immigrant patients with limited English proficiency who depend on our interpreters. Our work is critical, not just life-changing but life-saving. And that is why I am afraid to be "too political."

Can we survive as an organization with the support of only funders who genuinely share our values? I do not know the answer to that.

Headshot_maria_vertkinMaria Vertkin (maria@found-in-translation.org) is the founder and executive director of Found in Translation. This post originally appeared on the Found in Translation website and is reprinted here with permission.

Sharing power, getting results: engaging community in foundation decision-making

June 22, 2020

HelpingadiversetalentthriveWe are living in a singular moment, one with little precedent. A global pandemic followed by an economic recession followed by nationwide protests against police misconduct and systemic racism — all of it occurring in the span of a few short months. In many ways, philanthropy has responded nimbly and creatively to the moment, setting up response funds, easing application and reporting requirements, and even tapping new models of funding.

But what of philanthropy's response beyond this moment? Will the response we've seen translate into fundamental changes in foundation practice — changes in the way philanthropy shares power and thinks about sustainable community change?

One of the most meaningful changes foundations can make in their practice and decision-making is to directly engage those impacted by racism and race-based inequity.

We know that Black, Latinx, and Native communities have been particularly hard hit by the health and economic impacts of the pandemic. Likewise, the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd are shining a light not only on inequities in policing, but on racial inequities in every area of American life.

By failing to tap the expertise of the people it is trying to help, philanthropy — which remains largely white and unrepresentative of the communities it serves — risks overlooking much-needed solutions and insights that could catalyze the transformative social change required in this moment.

Indeed, foundations that have engaged community constituents in their decision-making say that doing so helps them get better results, enabling them to center their work in the realities faced by the communities they seek to serve and heightening their accountability to those communities. Community input also helps foundations identify critical funding priorities, infuse cultural competency into program design, and enhance their communications and evaluation and learning processes.

While foundations often engage grantee partners in their work, research shows they are far less likely to engage community members themselves. Here are three steps foundations can and should take on their equity journeys:

1. Take a close look at your existing practices and protocols. Is there room to be more inclusive? Can you engage community members in grant reviews? Is it possible to conduct a brief survey of community priorities before making final decisions about resource allocations? If you're working on an evaluation, are there ways to engage community members in data collection and/or in helping make sense of the findings? Reinventing processes from scratch can feel like a mountain too high, but tweaking existing practices can be a way to test out new ways of doing things, learn from missteps, and build on those learnings over time.

2. Determine whether it would be helpful to have intermediaries or partners broker relationships with constituents. Many foundations, especially larger ones that work nationally, do not have particularly strong community-level relationships and may not have made an effort or had the time to establish trust among community members. By partnering with a trusted local or regional organization (e.g., a regional association of grantmakers, regional foundation, or community development finance institution), foundations can get closer to the ground, develop stronger relationships with community members, and gain a better understanding of the priorities in the community.

Articulate organizational values for engaging those directly impacted by inequities in decision-making. As foundation embark on their equity journeys, it's important they not only articulate their organizational values but are clear about how those values will be operationalized. To the degree there are shared expectations about how to partner with communities and create more responsive philanthropy, organizational culture will follow.

To be sure, there are no shortcuts when it comes to partnering with a community. It is not easy work, and for many foundations it will require a fundamental shift in how they operate. To get started, we've provided a roadmap as a resource for foundations, one that recognizes that short-term shifts in practice coupled with longer-term changes in culture are both needed to truly embed shared decision-making in foundation practice.

We hope funders have the clarity and courage to challenge the status quo. This is the moment for philanthropy to reflect on how it can share power and, in doing so, make a deeper impact on the communities it strives to serve.

Headshot_seema_shahSeema Shah, PhD, is founder and principal of COMM|VEDA Consulting, which provides research, evaluation, writing, and project management services to mission-driven organizations. She is the author of two recent reports, Partnering with Community for Better Philanthropy and A Foot in Both Worlds: Working with Regional Organizations to Advance Equity, both developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

We need more than COVID charity; it’s time for systems change

June 16, 2020

Land-grant-university-racial-equityToo many people in our home state of North Carolina are struggling to survive as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on their health, financial stability, schools, and communities. As the pandemic rages on, we also see thousands of residents protesting George Floyd’s murder and the injustices and racism that have permeated all aspects of our society for far too long. Charity is not enough to make a long-term difference.

We must begin laying the groundwork for what comes after this uncertain moment. We have the opportunity to reinvent what we want our state to look like and reform the systems that have failed many of our most vulnerable residents — communities of color, rural residents, elders, children, and families with low incomes.

Like many foundations in our state and around the country, The Duke Endowment and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust moved quickly in the early months of the public health crisis and released millions of dollars to address urgent needs in the state, including food scarcity, housing insecurity, and inadequate healthcare supplies.

No matter how quickly we move, however, COVID-19 and the nationwide protests spotlight have amplified inequities that existed long before today.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus. They’re more likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease. Latinos are almost three times as likely to be uninsured; African Americans are twice as likely to lack insurance.

We also have learned that many residents with lower incomes are essential — risking their lives so that others can ride the bus, buy groceries, or visit the doctor. A lack of access to affordable housing, reliable transportation, and personal protective equipment puts vulnerable residents in jeopardy.

As philanthropic leaders, we are calling on other foundations, government, and business leaders to think about how we, collectively, can change the path forward.

The public and private sectors came together to respond to urgent needs by investing millions when the COVID-19 crisis hit. If we continue to work together, we can make systemic changes that will help our state thrive well beyond this moment.

What might such a shift look like?

In North Carolina, all residents would have access to quality, affordable health insurance and care — during this health crisis and over the long-term. Residents in rural communities would be able to visit healthcare clinics that offer high-quality primary care and seamless connections, via telehealth, to regional medical centers. Children would have access to and thrive in quality early-childhood programs, where teachers are supported and appropriately compensated. Law enforcement policies that negatively impact communities of color would change.

How can we, collectively, make this happen? We — government, nonprofits, foundations, and businesses — must each do our part to ensure coordinated access to health care and mental health services. We must address the factors outside of medicine that impact health by investing in affordable housing, transportation, economic supports, and access to healthy food. We must increase access to technology and high-speed Internet so students and families can stay connected in a time when virtual learning is imperative. We must invest in innovation centers as our state transitions to value-based care to ensure that this new model of care, one that encourages providers to treat the whole person, produces equitable health outcomes for all. And we must strengthen our state’s public health system so that local communities are better prepared to address the next health crisis head on. These are just a few ideas; working together with our communities, we will develop more.

If we don’t seize this moment, we will end up revisiting these issues — entrenched poverty, systemic racial bias, high uninsured rates, children left behind in school, a shaky public health system — over and over again.

While we can’t literally join hands as we are social distancing, we can unite for change. Philanthropy and business can incubate and pilot innovative ideas and approaches, and our local, state and federal governments can bring those successful ideas and innovations to scale.

Will this take a significant investment of time and resources and a commitment to include all voices in the solutions? Absolutely. But experience shows that we can tackle difficult problems together. The moment to do so is now. COVID-19 and residents marching in the streets have taught us that the stakes of inaction and disinvestment are high.

By investing in bold ways to help our most vulnerable communities, we have an opportunity to build a future where we are stronger than we were before, with an equitable system that supports all residents.

Headshot_comp_Laura_Gerald_Rhett_Mabry_PhilanTopicDr. Laura Gerald is president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Rhett Mabry is president of the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment.

Foundations step up funding for COVID-19 response efforts (May 16-June 15, 2020)

June 14, 2020

Foundations-pledge-support-for-covid-19-relief-update_full_imageAs COVID-19 continues to disrupt life in the United States and around the globe, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. Here's a roundup of grants announced over the last three weeks:

ALASKA

Rasmuson Foundation, Anchorage, AK | $550,000

The Rasmuson Foundation has announced twelve grants totaling $550,000 in support of COVID-19 response efforts as well as rural healthcare initiatives in Alaska. The second round of funding awarded in partnership with Premera Blue Cross and the Alaska Community Foundation through the Premera Rural Health Care Fund includes grants of $25,000 to the Arctic Slope Native Association for the purchase of oxygen bottles for COVID-19 patients; $65,316 to the Bartlett Regional Hospital for a COVID-19 triage tent; and $32,500 to the Copper River Native Association for emergency room telemedicine equipment.

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $755,000

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $755,000 in support of efforts to address the mental well-being of students and teachers impacted by the coronavirus. The Crisis Text Line, which saw a 22 percent increase in texts from students age 17 and younger between March and May, was awarded $550,000 to increase the number of trained volunteer counselors who provide real-time support and references to local care and services, while Healthy Minds Innovations will receive $205,000 to expand its app-based Healthy Minds Program, which is designed to help educators build awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.

Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $1 million

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $1 million commitment from the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation in support of the UCLA COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative, a partnership of the Fielding School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine. The gift will enable researchers to test frontline health workers and first responders for active COVID infections, antibodies, and immune response on a regular basis, facilitating rapid diagnosis and helping protect their colleagues and family members.

Omidyar Network, Redwood City, CA | Up to $750,000

The Omidyar Network has announced the recipients of a first round of grants from its COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund. Through the fund, grants ranging from $75,000 to $150,000 were awarded to the Maine People's Alliance, Michigan People's Campaign, Free Press Action Fund, Roosevelt Institute, Jobs With Justice, Groundwork Action, and Make the Road New York together with Make the Road Action.

startsmall LLC, Mountain View, CA | $11.6 Million

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's limited liability company, #startsmall, has announced commitments totaling $11.6 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Commitments include $5 million to World Central Kitchen in support of its Restaurants for the People program in Oakland and another $5 million to former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's nonprofit, Humanity Forward, to help fund a project that provides basic income payments to individuals and families most at risk of experiencing loss of income. Other recipients include Eminem's Marshall Mathers Foundation ($750,000), the Edgewood Center for Children and Families ($350,000), and Sisterhearts, Inc. ($500,000). With this latest round of grants, Dorsey has committed more than $85 million to COVID relief since April, when he pledged $1 billion of his equity stake in Square to charity.

John and Mary Tu Foundation, Fountain Valley, CA | $1 million

The University of California, San Diego has announced a $1 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation in support of translational research aimed at advancing COVID-19 testing and advancing new diagnostics, therapies, and ways to monitor the spread of the virus. The funds will support a team led by virologist Davey Smith, who has been working to sequence the virus and track it as it spreads into vulnerable populations, as well as leading clinical trials of new treatments for those who have developed moderately severe cases of COVID-19.

Weingart Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $2.7 million

The Weingart Foundation has announced unrestricted operating support grants totaling $2.7 million to twenty-eight nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus. Recipients include the South L.A. Transit Empowerment Zone ($200,000), community-based housing organizations East L.A. Community Corporation ($100,000), and Reach Out West End and Access California Services ($100,000). In the belief that unrestricted funding remains the best way to help nonprofits respond and adapt to the public health emergency, the foundation plans to award up to $20 million in general operating support over the next twelve months.

COLORADO

Katz Amsterdam Foundation, Edgewater, CO | $1 million

Vail Resorts chair and CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, have announced a $1 million grant from the Katz Amsterdam Foundation to the Tulane University School of Medicine in support of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing for populations most at risk in the metro Denver region.

Community First Foundation, Arvada, CO | $454,750

In a second round of funding through its Jeffco Hope Fund, the Community First Foundation has announced grants totaling $454,750 to help stabilize Jefferson County nonprofits that may not be providing direct services to county residents but have been negatively impacted by the virus due to canceled or suspended programming and fundraising events and/or a falloff in donations. Grant recipients include the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, and Seniors' Resource Center, Inc.

CONNECTICUT

Antonacci Family Foundation, Enfield, CT | $250,000

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has received grants totaling more than $250,000 from the Antonacci Family Foundation, MassLive.com reports. Awarded through the foundation's Millions of Meals initiative, the funding will support the food bank's network partners in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties; its Brown Bag Food for Elders sites in twenty-one cities and towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties; and its Mobile Food Bank programs in Amherst, Easthampton, Greenfield, and Turners.

FLORIDA

Helios Education Foundation, Tampa, FL | $650,000

Helios Education Foundation and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities have announced the Helios-Florida Consortium COVID-19 Summer Completion Grant Initiative in support of low-income students at risk of not completing their degrees as a result of the public health emergency and its economic fallout. Funded by a $650,000 investment from Helios, the initiative will provide students at Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida with up to $1,250 to help meet expenses not covered by the CARES ACT or traditional financial aid.

ILLINOIS

Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, Chicago, IL | $1 Million

The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a funder collaborative that supports proven and promising approaches to gun violence prevention, has announced changes to its annual grant program and is awarding rapid response funding to organizations impacted by COVID-19. Grants were awarded to a hundred and sixty-four nonprofits working in twenty-one neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West Sides to build social cohesion and trust, foster cooperation between residents and the police, and adapt their programming in line with social-distancing requirements.

INDIANA

Ball Brothers Foundation, Muncie, IN | $35,000

The Ball Brothers Foundation has announced grants totaling $35,000 to Ball State University and Ivy Tech Community College in support of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The grants include $5,000 to help BSU College of Health's clinics provide telehealth services; $25,000 in support of planning efforts at local K-12 schools as administrators and teachers prepare for the fall; and $5,000 to Ivy Tech Community College's COVID-19 Relief Fund.

KENTUCKY

James Graham Brown Foundation, Louisville, KY | $1.5 million

The University of Louisville has announced a $1.5 million gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation in support of the Co-Immunity Project, a collaboration of the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, and Baptist Health, Norton Healthcare, and UofL Health systems. The funding will support expanded testing of individuals for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, as well as the testing of wastewater, with the goal of developing a "virus radar" that provides real-time data for tracking and curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, New Orleans, LA | $150,000

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, with support from the Helis, W.K. Kellogg, and Josef Sternberg Memorial foundations, has announced emergency relief grants totaling $150,000 through its Louisiana Culture Care Fund. Grants of between $5,000 and $12,000 were awarded to seventeen nonprofits, including the Amistad Research Center ($10,000), the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana ($10,000), and the Louisiana Preservation Alliance ($7,500).

MAINE

Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Portland, ME | $1 Million

The Sam L. Cohen Foundation has pledged $1 million in support of organizations and projects providing direct services to populations in Maine impacted by COVID-19. To date, the foundation has awarded thirty-one grants totaling $520,000, including $120,000 in support of programs for low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness; $100,000 in support of healthcare, mental health, and eldercare services; $180,000 in support of food assistance programs; and $50,000 to COVID-19 community reliefs funds in Cumberland and York counties.

MICHIGAN

Kresge Foundation, Troy, MI | $4.2 Million

The Kresge Foundation has announced grants and grant supplements totaling $4.2 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in Detroit, Memphis, and across the United States. The foundation awarded new grants totaling approximately $2 million to nonprofits and state agencies, including PolicyLink (Oakland, California), which will receive $500,000 in support of the Convergence Partnership, a funder collaborative that invests in efforts to address structural and institutional barriers affecting the health and well-being of marginalized communities; United States Artists, which was awarded $250,000 to address, through its Artist Relief Fund, the immediate financial needs of individual artists and creative workers; and Whole Child Strategies, which will receive $200,000 in support of a coalition of place-based organizations providing emergency relief to low-income families in eight Memphis neighborhoods. As part of its commitment to provide grantees with more resources and flexibility to respond to the public health emergency, the foundation also is providing supplemental grant funds totaling $2.2 million to a hundred and twenty-four community development corporations and justice- and democracy-focused organizations.

Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Lansing, MI | $5.3 Million

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund has announced grants totaling $5.3 million in support of efforts to improve community health across the state and provide critical help during the COVID-19 crisis. The total includes more than $4.5 million in health impact grants to fifty-two organizations and projects — including many focused on food access, support for older adults, and mental health services — and more than $809,000 in capacity-building grants to eighteen organizations with annual budgets under $5 million. Recipients include the Autism Alliance of Michigan ($100,000), Community Housing Network, Inc. ($50,000), Grand Rapids African American Health Institute ($89,420), Mosaic Counseling ($30,000), Our Kitchen Table ($24,050), and Sylvester Broom Empowerment Village ($100,000).

NEW JERSEY

Russell Berrie Foundation, Teaneck, NJ | $4.48 Million

The Russell Berrie Foundation has announced emergency grants totaling $4.48 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in northern New Jersey and Israel. The grants will assist nonprofits working to address medical and healthcare needs, food and economic insecurity, and other social impacts of the pandemic. Grant recipients include Holy Name Medical Center ($250,000), the NJ YMCA Alliance (200,000), the Community Food Bank of New Jersey ($100,000), the Jewish Federation of Northern NJ ($50,000), Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of the Bar Ilan University ($500,000), and the Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation ($50,000).

Kessler Foundation, East Hanover, NJ | $1 Million

The Kessler Foundation has announced COVID-19 emergency grants totaling nearly $1 million to New Jersey nonprofits serving people with disabilities. Thirty-seven organizations received grants ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 to help cover unanticipated needs and expenses, including technology required for remote operations, personal protective equipment (PPE), and supplies needed to meet new federal and state requirements for sanitation and safety measures.

NEW YORK

William T. Grant Foundation, New York, NY; Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL | $900,000

The William T. Grant and Spencer foundations have announced commitments totaling up to $900,000 with the goal of reducing disparities in youth outcomes exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Two initial Rapid Response Research grants will support collaborations between researchers and policy makers — the first between the Boston mayor's office and Northeastern University professor Alicia Modestino, who will use evidence-based design to try to save the city's summer employment programs for youth, and the second bringing together researchers from Drexel University's Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to inform alternatives to confinement for young people caught up in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Price Family Foundation, New York, NY | $1 million

Albert Einstein College of Medicine has announced a $1 million challenge grant from Michael F. Price and the Price Family Foundation in support of COVID-19 research. The foundation will match donations on a one-to-one basis to the school, which, in partnership with Montefiore, is leading a national effort to test the efficacy of convalescent plasma for treating those fighting the infection, as well as studies on potential treatments such as remdesivir, leronlimab, and sarilumab.

Surdna Foundation, New York, NY | $4.6 Million

The Surdna Foundation has announced that it has allocated $4.6 million to date in support of grantees working to meet needs in communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Among other things, the funding will support efforts to assist business owners and workers, mitigate the impact on individual artists of color and small and midsize arts nonprofits serving communities of color, and bolster relief efforts and community organizing in black, brown, and Indigenous communities, with a focus on land, food, and environmental justice. Where appropriate, the foundation also has converted project grants and conference registration fees to general operating support, adjusted the terms of grants, waived project reports, expedited grant payments, and streamlined grant renewals.

Bob Woodruff Foundation, New York, NY | $1.9 million

The Bob Woodruff Foundation has announced $1.9 million grants to thirteen organizations working to provide veterans, service members, and their families and caregivers with health and wellness services; support veterans and military families transitioning into civilian communities; and address the acute and critical needs of veterans impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Grant recipients include Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which is working to address the immediate emotional and financial needs of military survivors facing increased anxiety and depression as a result of the loss of income and isolation caused by COVID-related shutdowns; the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center's Medical-Legal Partnerships, which is providing legal services needed to address complex social factors affecting veterans' housing status, health, and well-being; and Goodwill Industries of Houston, which will provide vocational training to prepare veterans for high-need, high-growth careers.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Winston-Salem, NC | $2.7 million

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has announced investments totaling more than $2.7 million in flexible funding for COVID-19 relief efforts in Forsyth County and across North Carolina. Grants were awarded to healthcare delivery systems, including hospitals and associated clinics, free clinics, and health centers that regularly see Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients; local and statewide community foundations, many of which are helping nonprofits meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations; local health departments, which require additional capacity to test, track, and report cases, coordinate state- and local-level responses, and protect populations most at risk of infection; and grassroots groups and other nonprofits working to provide timely COVID-related information to marginalized populations.

PENNSYLVANIA

Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA | $200,000

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded $200,000 to MasksOn.org to provide four thousand protective masks to Pittsburgh-area healthcare workers and first responders, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports. Designed by doctors with help from engineers from MIT and Google, the converted snorkeling masks will be provided to Allegheny County's seven Federally Qualified Health Centers, Excela Health and Bethlen Communities in Westmoreland County, and Westmoreland County firefighters.

VIRGINIA

Ivy Foundation, Charlottesville, VA | $2 million

The University of Virginia has announced a $2 million commitment from the Ivy Foundation in support of biomedical research focused on COVID-19. The Ivy Foundation COVID-19 Translational Research Fund will support research aimed at addressing diagnosis, treatment options, vaccine development, and healthcare worker protection needs.

________

"New Grant Awards Include COVID-19 Response Projects." Rasmuson Foundation Press Release 05/21/2020.

"Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $700,000 to Support Mental Well-being of Educators, Students." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative press release 05/29/2020.

"UCLA receives $1 million for COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative." University of California, Los Angeles press release 05/26/2020.

"Omidyar Network Announces Initial Grants from COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund." Omidyar Network Press Release 05/27/2020.

"#startsmall Tracker." #startsmall Excel Sheet 05/21/2020.

"$1M gift speeds COVID-19 testing and tracking at UC San Diego." University of California, San Diego press release 05/28/2020.

"Unrestricted operating support will help nonprofits weather the COVID-19 crisis." Weingart Foundation press release 05/28/2020.

"Weingart Foundation unrestricted operating support grant awards: May 2020." Weingart Foundation press release 05/28/2020.

"Vail Resorts CEO to Donate $11.7 Million from SARs Exercise; Announces Grants to Support COVID-19 Efforts, Racial Justice Reform and Youth Access." Vail Resorts press release 06/08/2020.

"Jeffco Hope Fund Round 2 Aims to Help Jeffco Nonprofits Stabilize During Pandemic." Community First Foundation Press Release 05/21/2020.

"Big Y, Antonacci Family Foundation aid Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as coronavirus pandemic makes it tough for families to keep food on the table." MassLive.com 06/03/2020.

"Helios Education Foundation and Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities Launch Summer Completion Grant Initiative." Helios Education Foundation Press Release.

"BBF awards special funding to support BSU and Ivy Tech COVID efforts." Ball Brothers Foundation press release 05/27/2020.

"Foundations Adapt $1 Million Anti-Violence Fund for Communities Hardest Hit by Virus & Gun Violence." Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities Press Release 05/20/2020.

"COVID-19 antibody initiative receives $1.5 million to expand testing, launch 'virus radar'." University of Louisville press release 06/08/2020.

"Thanks to support, LEH awards more emergency relief grants." Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities press release 05/28/2020.

"Sam L. Cohen Foundation Commits $1 Million to Support COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Cumberland and York Counties." Sam. L. Cohen Foundation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"$4.2M in New Grants to Equip National Nonprofit Response to COVID-19 Pandemic." Kresge Foundation Press Release 05/14/2020.

"Investing $5.3 Million in the Health of Michigan Communities." Michigan Health Endowment Fund Press Release 05/18/2020.

"The Russell Berrie Foundation Announces $4.48 Million in Emergency Grants to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts in New Jersey and Israel." Russell Berrie Foundation Press Release 05/19/2020.

"Kessler Foundation Awards COVID-19 Emergency Grants to Grantees Serving People With Disabilities in New Jersey." Kessler Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations award rapid response research grants to combat youth inequality exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic." William T. Grant Foundation and Spencer Foundation press release 06/01/2020.

"Luce Foundation emergency grants support underserved communities in the US." Henry Luce Foundation press release 06/05/2020.

"Grants information." Henry Luce Foundation webpage 06/05/2020.

"Albert Einstein College of Medicine awarded $1 million challenge gift for COVID-19 research from the Price Family Foundation." Albert Einstein College of Medicine press release 06/02/2020.

"Solidarity and Support for Our Grantees." Surdna Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Bob Woodruff Foundation announces $1.9 million investment in spring grant recipients." Bob Woodruff Foundation press release 06/09/2020.

"2020 spring grants." Bob Woodruff Foundation webpage 06/09/2020.

"Kate B. Reynolds Charitable trust invests more than $2.7 million in immediate, flexible funding to respond to COVID-19 in North Carolina." Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust press release 06/01/2020.

"Richard King Mellon Foundation brings converted snorkeling masks to Pittsburgh health care workers." Pittsburgh Business Times 06/01/2020.

"Ivy Foundation commits $2 million for COVID-19 translational research fund." University of Virginia press release 05/26/2020.

"I Am Tired...The Pandemic of Racism Must End"

June 08, 2020

Black_Lives_Matter_protestOver the past week, civil unrest has gripped the nation. Much of it was sparked by the unwarranted and senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a police officer who held his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes as Floyd begged for his life and three other MPD officers stood by and did nothing. Tragically, it is only the latest example of an African-American citizen of this country being subjected to wanton police brutality and losing his life as a result. Enough is enough. I cannot, in all good conscience, remain silent while police violence against African Americans goes unchecked or unpunished.

I am a proud African-American man who loves this country. I have close friends and family of all races, and I pride myself on being measured and fair. I have always tried to view the "glass of life" as being "three-quarters full instead of a quarter empty," but my patience has run thin...and I am tired.

Tired of watching innocent black men being targeted with violence by police officers.

Tired of bigots taking the law into their own hands and feeling justified in confronting black citizens of this country.

Tired of negative, media-driven stereotypes that shape the dangerous narratives around young black men.

Tired of white people calling the police on black people, falling back on their feelings of entitlement and privilege to weaponize the police.

Tired of both the purposeful and passive suppression of talented black professionals by corporate America.

Tired of watching black-owned businesses struggle because they cannot access capital.

Tired of corporate America profiting from the fruit of black culture, but not nurturing the tree that bears it.

Tired of the word diversity, which is meant to deflect attention from the word black.

Tired of systemic and institutionalized corporate racism masked by flowery mission statements and codes of conduct that are rarely enforced.

Tired of the rise of the digital and social media economy without commensurate investment in populations that have driven much of its success.

Tired of being disrespected in restaurants as if I did not exist.

Tired of being followed in retail establishments as if I were about to commit a crime.

Tired of not being afforded the same assumption of competence and associated opportunities as my white high school, college, and business school classmates.

Tired of explaining why I like to spend time with black people, even as white people are never asked to explain why they like spending time with other white people.

Tired of the overall physical and psychological toll that being a black man takes on me every day.

As the father of two talented, charming, educated, young black men with unlimited potential, it pains me deeply that I needed to have "the conversation" with them when they were teenagers regarding their possible interaction with cops — the same conversation my dad had with me almost five decades earlier, and that no doubt his dad had with him. Every evening before I go to bed, I say a prayer that my boys will not be targeted and killed by law enforcement who see them as a threat — something none of my white friends or classmates have ever had to endure, much less think about.

Why are we having the same conversations about racism in America in 2020 that we've had for the past fifty, hundred, two hundred years? The reason is that we have never truly had a desire to actually address the "pandemic" of racism in this country. I guarantee you we will develop a vaccine for COVID-19 in short order, just like we've developed cures for other diseases that have plagued us over the centuries. We are a nation able to muster vast amounts of money and intelligence in service to a worthy cause, and the pandemic of racism should be no different. Racism can be cured, but black people alone cannot put an end to the disease. We need the commitment and engagement of consciously aware white people to do that.

Let me be clear: I do not condone violence and looting. But I fully understand the frustration and outrage sparked by yet another incident in which the life of a black person is considered to be worthless. The sight of so many young people — white, black, yellow, and brown — coming together across this country and around the world to protest the injustice of it gives me hope.

Corporate America is uniquely positioned to be a leader in this conversation and to drive the lasting change we so desperately need. As it has done throughout history, American business can offer viable solutions that address the disease of racism while setting an example for the country and the world. The initial response from dozens of CEOs and corporate leaders over the past week gives me cause to be optimistic. But I challenge all of corporate America to follow the lead of these men and women and develop a plan for their businesses informed by fairness, love, and compassion for everyone. Only then will we unlock the true greatness of America.

Headshots_earl_gravesEarl "Butch" Graves, Jr. is an American businessman and retired basketball player.

A good RFP attracts better partners for your project

June 05, 2020

Handshake_over_table_PhilanTopicjpgWhen thinking about what your organization should do to adjust to the "new normal," you may need a partner who can help you reimagine your mission and vision and develop a strategy. The partner may be a branding agency, a fundraising consultant, or someone who can assist you in revising your strategic plan. If the services you offer or the way you provide them has changed, it may be even more important to hire an objective outsider who can help you understand and shape your organization's future.

When hiring a consultant, your chances of finding the right partner will be greatly improved if you develop a clear Request for Proposal (RFP). If you don't know exactly what it is you want from a consultant, when you want it, and how much you are willing to pay, take a step back. You need to nail that down and develop a realistic timeline and budget. And that process itself may require some outside help.

Not only will a good RFP attract the right partner, it will also help your team come together around the details of the project.

To that end, every RFP should include:

1. An overview of your organization: Explain your mission, services, history, and structure so that interested consultants understand what you do and can determine whether their agency is a good match. You want to attract an agency that understands your issues and is enthusiastic about your cause, so provide them with accurate information. This doesn't have to become a writing project; use material from your website, brochures, grant proposals, and strategic plan. A few paragraphs should suffice.

2. Need and goals: The RFP should answer the following questions: What do you need and what are you hoping to accomplish with the project? How will your organization be improved as a result?

3. Outcomes: If possible, describe the specific outcomes you hope to achieve and the specific metrics you will use to measure the success of the initiative.

4. Reasons for the RFP: Explain what's specifically precipitating the need for the project at this time and any other relevant information that can provide context. Was the project planned before the pandemic or in response to it? What are the other urgent factors at play? The need to raise more funds? Changes in programs? New leadership and a new direction? A potential merger? The more the consultant knows, the better they will be able to address your specific needs.

5. Description of the project: Provide a full description of the project, including your overall objectives and the specific deliverables you are requesting. If there's a particular process that you want followed, indicate that. The more information you can provide, the better.

6. Audiences: Describe all the different audiences you want to reach with the project and any information you have about those audiences. This will help the consultant tailor their proposal appropriately.

7. Current and past efforts and results: Describe any previous projects you've undertaken that had similar goals or were targeted to similar audiences. Describe what worked and what didn't. If your project is a fundraising campaign, describe past appeals and their success. It's important to establish a baseline for what your organization has already accomplished.

8. Materials and data you already have: If you have donor or membership databases that can yield insights about your audiences, include that fact in your RFP. If you've sent out surveys recently or gathered data for a strategic plan,let the bidders know. If you have a brand manual or other materials that might be used in the project, specify that. Information you already have may reduce the scope of work and, therefore, the cost.

9. Relevance of project: Describe how the project relates to other initiatives or affects other areas of the organization. For example, you might explain how you hope an organizational branding project will be used as a model for chapters or programs, or how a strategic plan will guide the development of new revenue streams. Providing the larger context so that the consultant can help you achieve the outcomes you want.

10. Parties and process: Describe who will be involved in the project and what your work, review, and approval processes are. Indicate whether a subcommittee will be formed to handle the project, who the day-to-day contact is, what role the board will play, and who has or gives final approval.This can help the consultant to understand the flow and meetings and map out a plan that accommodates your needs.

11. Expectations for working together: Different consultants have different styles. Be clear about your expectations so that you find one likely to work well with your staff and who will fit in with your organization's culture. Explain what it is you are looking for in terms of work process, deliverables and results, methods of communication, and any other aspect of the collaboration that is important to you.

11. Creative expectations: Understanding your expectations for a creative outcome can be difficult, so try to provide asmuch information as possible about it as you can. Mention any guidelines that would be relevant for the project (e.g., a brand style guide). For a branding and marketing project, it's also very helpful to provide samples of materials and websites that your team likes. These can give potential partners a better idea of the outcomes you're expecting. If you have specific requirements or requests regarding outcomes, include them in the RFP.

12. Timing: Be realistic about how much time the process will take and the amount of work required. The more research needed upfront, the longer the project will take. You also need to allow time for input and approval from all parties, as well as time for the consultant to do his or her work. Recognize,too, that a "rush" project will affect the process and the fee.

13. Budget: It is essential to let bidders know your budget for the project. Determine your budget based on the value the project will bring to your organization and then find an agency that can deliver what you need within budget. If you ask for bids without specifying a budget, you may get Cadillac bids fora Chevy budget, which wastes both your time and the consultant's. Conversely, if your rebranding requirements and budget are Cadillacs, don't waste your time looking at Chevys.

If you are at a loss about how much a project might cost, spend some time talking with outside firms to get a general idea of possible cost.And ask other nonprofits what they spent on similar projects and what they received in return.

14. Evaluation criteria: Explain the criteria you'll use to evaluate and select a consultant for the project. It takes a lot of time to develop a good proposal, so be fair to the consultants you've engaged. Spell out your top three selection criteria and be specific. Is experience in the nonprofit sector important? Do you want a partner with specific skills?

15. Evaluation process and timing: On the first page of the RFP, give the due date for the proposal and the name, email, and phone number of the contact person to whom the proposal should be sent. Indicate who will make your decisions for each step. For example:

  • Proposals due June 1, as a PDF, emailed to [name, title, and email address].
  • Review of proposals by Executive Director and Development Director.
  • Selection of three firms by June 15.
  • Meetings of Committee with firms from June 15–25.
  • Final selection on June 30.

Stick to your schedule. If you can't, let the competing agencies know — they're expecting to hear from you and may be turning down other projects in anticipation of working with your organization.

The RFP is just the beginning

Don't put walls between yourself and those who interested in responding to the RFP. The best firms will want to speak with you before submitting a proposal, so let them. In fact, be wary of firms that don't call or ask questions. If requested, provide access to your leadership as well. These pre-proposal discussions can result in proposals tailored to your needs and are an opportunity for you to get to know the competing firms before you make a commitment to one.

Be sure to let bidders know who else you sent the RFP to so they can decide whether they want to participate and, if they do, can use that information to help highlight what sets them apart from the others.

Some nonprofits ask for all questions to be submitted in writing and then send out the answers to everyone's questions to all bidders under the assumption that it is fair and serves their interests in getting the strongest proposals. In fact, it does the opposite. By giving away one firm's questions, you are essentially eliminating what makes them special — handicapping them. For example, if you put out an RFP for an ad campaign and an agency asks if you are open to using public relations or social media to accomplish your goals, and you let all the bidders know you are, then they will all scramble to add that to their proposal by partnering with other agencies with those skills. You, on the other hand, will have no idea that the agency that asked that question is the only one that is thinking creatively about how to solve your marketing needs.

Follow-up

Finally, be professional. Communicate with the firms during the process so they know where they stand. Let all firms know when you have made your final selection. Some agencies spend a lot of time developing customized proposals, so give them the courtesy of letting them know a decision has been made. Also, let them know why they were not selected. It will help them do a better job next time.

Howard_Adam_Levy_Red_Rooster_Group_PhilanTopicHoward Adam Levy is president of the Red Rooster Group, a brand strategy firm that works with nonprofits, governments, and foundations.

The power of diverse boards: an argument for change

June 04, 2020

Diversity_board_PhilanTopic_GettyImagesWe have a lot of work to do. Most of us have known this for some time, but the events of the last few weeks highlight just how much work remains to be done. The fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion never ends, and a clear and ongoing commitment to all three is needed if we are to create positive change. That commitment must start at the top.

Boards of directors operate at the highest level of organizational leadership, with each director expected to play a role in the development of the organization's strategic vision, operations, and overall culture. Numerous studies have shown that diversity positively impacts a company's financial performance. Indeed, a McKinsey & Company study found that firms in the top quartile for ethnic diversity in management and board composition are 35 percent more likely to earn financial returns above their respective national industry median.

Is the same true for the social sector? Is it important for nonprofit boards to embrace and model diversity, equity, and inclusion? The answer, unequivocally, is yes, and here's why:

Diversity drives organizational performance

Diversity inspires innovation. A board that is diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, and skill sets is more likely to generate innovation and push all its members to be more creative and open-minded. Today more than ever, social sector organizations need to develop multiple revenue streams, and leading-edge expertise in areas ranging from strategy to financial planning to operations is critical to a board's ability to conduct effective oversight.

Diversity catalyzes creativity. Diverse boards tend to be better at creative problem solving. Those who have had to adapt to physical disabilities encounter challenges on a daily, if not hourly, basis, while those subjected to systematic racism have had to adapt their entire lives. The ability to overcome challenges often translates to adaptive leadership, opening a world of possibilities in terms of program execution and organizational management.

Diversity fosters network breadth. Current or past clients who serve as board members add an element of authenticity and credibility to board deliberations and can serve as a "voice of experience" that informs and improves program planning. A greater awareness of who is actually being served gives boards information they need to develop strategies grounded in real-world facts. Such an understanding also provides context for proper resource allocation and effective strategic action, while helping to deepen an organization's relevance and impact.

Inclusion drives action

Let's try a thought experiment: take away all the benefits created by more diverse boards and imagine what the sector would look like :

  • too many nonprofits relying on a single, precarious revenue stream;
  • approaches to problem solving that are never improved on because "it has always been done that way";
  • clients who are viewed as beneficiaries rather than as equal partners in collective change efforts;
  • recruitment of staff and donors from among those who look and think like us; and
  • logic models and outcomes metrics informed by a single point of view.

Something magical and important happens when differences not only are not dismissed but are valued. But the benefits that diversity brings to a board are unlikely to be realized without an equal focus on inclusion. The perspective of all board members must be continuously sought and heard, and differences of opinion should always be welcomed.

Equity is the result

Equity and systems change are the outcomes of leaders fully embracing diversity and inclusion. In the absence of inclusion, it is too easy to become comfortable in our silence. Without diversity of thought and perspective, our value systems are compromised and systemic injustice goes unchallenged.

It is clear that board diversity, equity, and inclusion matter for all organizations, and especially so for nonprofits. To truly maximize a nonprofit's effectiveness, as well as its financial success, nonprofit boards must work diligently to ensure that different viewpoints are heard and incorporated. Change doesn't happen automatically or overnight. Boards must actively seek out those who can bring new perspectives to the table and challenge the status quo.

For those who currently serve on a nonprofit board, now is the time to act. Speak to your colleagues about steps the board can take to develop internal policies aimed at strengthening its diversity and begin to build a foundation for organizational leadership that supports change.

Similarly, if you've ever considered lending your time and talent to a nonprofit, now is the time to connect with one that is aligned with your passion and expertise. In these challenging, uncertain times, nonprofits are looking for all the expertise they can get their hands on.

The success of any organization starts at the top. Boards that want to maximize their effectiveness and performance must include socially and professionally diverse individuals who are committed to doing the work and are prepared to speak up and act for change. Good luck!

Pam Cannell_for_PhilanTopicPam Cannell is CEO of BoardBuild and has dedicated her entire career to nonprofit leadership and board governance.

Maintaining a consistent fundraising stream: lessons learned from COVID-19

June 01, 2020

Top_keyboard_red_donate_button_GettyImagesOver the last few months, the staff at Valleywise Health Foundation has witnessed astounding levels of empathy and generosity directed toward healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maricopa County. Many nonprofits and public charities are hurting right now, so it's especially uplifting to see how charitable people can be in the face of hardship and uncertainty. Like many organizations, we continue to face challenges, but as we like to say around here, with challenges come opportunities.

During these unprecedented times, we've found three approaches to be critical to our ability to maintain a consistent funding stream and ensure continued support for healthcare workers in the Valleywise Health system: adapting critical programs to new formats; appealing to donors' sense of humanity; and utilizing new channels to reach donors and supporters. We believe all three approaches are something other philanthropic organizations can benefit from as they work to secure support for critical services that are likely to become even more essential in the weeks and months to come.

Adapt to a "new normal." Social distancing requirements are forcing the cancellation of public gatherings and events nationwide. This new reality is a challenge for nonprofits and foundations that rely on events to raise awareness of and funding for their programs. But instead of despairing over the cancellation of your gala fundraiser or summer meet-and-greet, try to think about it as an opportunity to pivot to something new. All it takes is a little flexibility, creativity, and patience.

Valleywise Health Foundation's "Night of Heroes" event — an annual fundraiser that celebrates "heroic" patient stories and recognizes Valleywise Health's doctors, nurses, and employees — was scheduled to take place on April 23, with Isabella McCune, a 10-year old who suffered second- and third-degree burns over 65 percent of her body in a 2018 accident but whose courageous spirit remains undimmed after more than a hundred surgeries and procedures, as our honoree. As it became clear, however, that we would not be able to hold an in-person event this year, we decided to convert the night into a virtual livestreamed event for invitees and others. The results exceeded our expectations, and we raised a record $225,000 — significantly more than last year's total — for the new Arizona Burn Center and COVID-19 emergency needs in the county. The online nature of the event also enabled us to reach a far larger audience of potential donors than our original venue would have accommodated, and our cost-per-dollar-raised fell to 24 cents, well below the national average of 50 cents for in-person events.

Make a human connection. In times like these, it's imperative that you continue to reach out to your donors and supporters. While the depths of a global pandemic may not seem like the best time to fundraise, many people are reflecting more than ever on what is truly important to them and looking for new ways to support their communities. In fact, this is a great time to tell them how their generosity can lift up their community and the causes they care about.

At Valleywise Health Foundation, we are communicating with our donors on a regular basis about the ways in which their support strengthens the efforts of local healthcare workers to provide the best possible care to all who need it. By making sure to include a touch of the personal in all the stories we share, we also make it clear to current and potential donors that their gifts are helping real people with real needs. Even if you're not making an ask today, you should be looking to show current and potential donors how important your organization's work is to the community and how critical their support for that work is.

Utilize new channels for reaching donors. With millions of Americans currently sheltering in place, social media has become an even more important fundraising and awareness-raising channel for nonprofits. At our foundation, we've also turned to various apps to help expand our capabilities. For instance, we used Fund Duel, a gamified online fundraising platform, to support our virtual "Night of Heroes." The app allowed us to collect and share donations in real time, reaching even more donors than we could have during an in-person event. Embracing new technologies and platforms can add a layer of complexity to your fundraising, but more often than not they will provide opportunities to reach even more people with your message.

While online tools and platforms can help you reach a bigger audience, keep in mind that the key to creating a deep connection with members of that audience is to keep your message local. In an emergency, people want to be assured that their support is helping their neighbors and community. In other words, when communicating through a variety of channels, keep the message focused on the impact your donors are helping to create.

It's important that philanthropic leaders remain patient and flexible during this public health emergency. There is a lot we don't know about this virus, and the entire world is trying to adapt to our new reality as quickly as it can. We're all in this together, and while we may be facing a new normal on the other side of it, we can take steps now to adapt, pivot, and make ourselves stronger and more resilient as a sector.

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Kevin_Neal_for_PhilanTopicKevin Neal serves as board chair for Valleywise Health Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that supports Valleywise Health, a comprehensive healthcare system serving Arizona's Maricopa County. To view the Night of Heroes livestream, digital event program, and film premiere, visit www.valleywisehero.org.

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

Subscribe to PhilanTopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Filter posts

Select
Select
Select