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10 posts from September 2021

'Funding diverse, equitable, and inclusive youth fellowships': A commentary by Rachele Tardi and Zachary Turk

September 23, 2021

Report_osf_the_time_is_nowThe time is now: Funding diverse, equitable, and inclusive youth fellowships

In 2017, Open Society Foundations launched a global Community Youth Fellowship Program — a collaborative grantmaking initiative focused on engaging young people as individual grantees through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. The program allowed us to address crucial questions such as: How can philanthropy use an equity-centered approach to support young activists to build their leadership and a leadership pipeline in their communities? How can young activists be supported to work collaboratively, building solidarity across movements and generations? In our new report, The Time Is Now: Funding Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Youth Fellowships (English and Spanish, PDF), we reflect on lessons learned and positive practices in this work and interrogate our own approach.

Centering equity in processes

One of our key aims in developing our fellowship program was to support young activists in their own communities, for we understood that the ideas, solutions, and debates that arise within the community itself are the most impactful and transformative. Through this lens, we sought to expand the leadership pipeline for young activists from communities who experience multiple forms of structural oppression and face high barriers to civic participation.

Our initial emphasis was on intellectually and developmentally disabled activists. By identifying and involving disabled youth as fellows, we sought to help dismantle the prejudices of ableism and promote disability rights. Further, by rethinking grantmaking procedures and centering principles of justice, equity, and inclusion in our processes, we strove to advance a vision in which all areas of work can and must be aligned with program values....

Read the full commentary by Rachele Tardi and Zachary Turk.

'Building political power at a grassroots level': A Q&A with Romilda Avila, CEO, Tides Advocacy

September 22, 2021

Headshot_Romilda_Avila_Tides_croppedRomilda Avila is CEO of Tides Advocacy (formerly the Advocacy Fund), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization working with a network of fiscally sponsored 501(c)(4) projects and funds to strengthen political infrastructure and support power building and policy reform led by those most impacted by injustice. To that end, the organization provides capacity-building support, grantmaking support, and advising services to incubate advocacy initiatives. Avila served as Tides Advocacy's deputy director from 2017 to 2019 and as interim CEO before being appointed CEO in April 2020; she previously worked as a social impact consultant advising national foundations on grantmaking strategies for advancing social justice and equity.

PND asked Avila about Tides Advocacy's commitment to and process of becoming a pro-Black organization, the Political Movement Infrastructure Project, and the role of grassroots organizations in power building. Here is an excerpt:

Philanthropy News Digest: You were officially appointed CEO not long after the COVID-19 crisis began in the United States. How did your priorities for the organization shift as a result of the pandemic and its economic fallout?

Romilda Avila: Last year, when the pandemic hit, movement folks had to restructure in the moment; in the middle of organizing in the field, they had to transition to lockdown and figure out technology and community engagement. We rallied and were able to give $150,000 through our internal Resilience Fund to highly impacted partners to make sure that they were able to sustain themselves and their salaries and support healing justice and programming while facing an uncertain future. It was the first time that Tides Advocacy has done this type of grantmaking.

We're also supporting more organizations in terms of (c)(4) funding and inspiring folks to do more political work in the off-season. Through our Healthy Democracy Action Fund, during an important election year, we had an opportunity to work with a great donor who allowed us to support almost fifty organizations through nearly $6 million in grants. Almost $2.1 million went to Black-led organizations organizing in the South and the Midwest, and the rest went to Native, Latinx, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities. We're also looking to go deeper with leaders and organizations working on LGBTQ rights — particularly trans issues — and immigrant rights, disability rights, and more, so we can support all people directly impacted by injustice in organizing and building political power at a grassroots level....

Read the full Q&A with Romilda Avila.

The sustainable nonprofit: The community a nonprofit builds

September 20, 2021

Hands_in_pileNurturing a community for the greatest impact

Whenever I ask a nonprofit fundraiser or board member about their organization's impact, I know what kind of response I'm going to get. I'll hear about how many people they've served or the number of participants in last year's programs. With good reason, the fundraiser or board member is focused on the programmatic inputs and outcomes of their work, the efforts that are having a positive effect on the people their mission statement says they seek to benefit.

While there's nothing wrong with these answers to my questions about impact, they aren't comprehensive enough. Those measures don't take into account the full spectrum of the ways in which the organization is making an impact on the issue. And the most significant of those impacts come through the community a nonprofit builds....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

Sustainable support for Haiti's local food system: A commentary by Frank Giustra

September 14, 2021

Headshot_Frank_Giustra_croppedWithout long-term investment, food aid for Haiti risks being a Band-Aid

The aftershocks of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on August 14 are not only being felt by those nearest the epicenter.

The latest disaster not only has left six hundred and fifty thousand people needing immediate assistance but also has exposed the country's more than one million farming families, who depend on a precarious rural economy. While aid agencies are scrambling to distribute the World Food Programme's pre-positioned food and import additional supplies, farmers are facing the possibility of their ready harvests of staple crops going to waste. The result is loss of market opportunity, incomes, and the chance to sustain their livelihoods long enough to support Haiti's economic recovery.

If the lingering effects of the last major earthquake, which displaced 1.5 million people in 2010, are any indication, the full impact could be devastating for the country's food producers, their families, and communities, who lose out twice: first to the damage from the earthquake and then to the subsequent short-term influx of cheap imported food.

Before this latest earthquake, almost half the country, or 4.4 million people, faced food insecurity, while an even greater proportion — including an estimated 90 percent of the rural population — were living below the poverty line. Given that 60 percent of rural families rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, it follows that any shocks that impact food markets will also have a lasting impact on their economic security and well-being.

Conversely, supporting this key sector now and in the long-term is a fast-track way to tackle poverty, hunger, health disparities, and inequality and build resilience to the secondary impacts of natural disasters....

Read the full commentary by Frank Giustra, founder of Lionsgate Entertainment, Giustra Foundation, Acceso, and Million Gardens Movement.

'The best way to assist families with dignity and grace is to give them direct financial assistance': A Q&A with Allison Lutnick, Director of Disaster Relief Operations, Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund

September 13, 2021

Headshot_Allison_Lutnick_Cantor_Fitzgerald_Relief_Fund_2_croppedOn September 11, 2001, 658 Cantor Fitzgerald and sixty-one Eurobrokers employees lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund was founded on September 14 with a $1 million personal donation from Cantor Fitzgerald chairman and CEO Howard W. Lutnick, whose brother, Gary, was among those killed. The fund raised and distributed over $180 million for more than eight hundred families — including 932 children — of the victims of that tragedy; the fund has since expanded its focus and distributed $357 million to date in support of families impacted by acts of terrorism, emergencies, and natural disasters, as well as direct service charities and wounded service members.

Allison Lutnick, Howard Lutnick's wife, set up the Cantor Fitzgerald Crisis Center and ran support groups for the thirty-six Cantor women who were pregnant on 9/11 and the fiancées of employees who were killed. PND asked Lutnick, now the director of relief operations for the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund, about the lessons of 9/11, the fund's evolution over the last two decades, its annual Charity Day event, and corporate partnerships. Here is an excerpt:

Philanthropy News Digest: What were the goals of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund at the time of its inception, and how has it changed over time? 

Allison Lutnick: The Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund (CFRF) was created within three days of 9/11 solely to help take care of the 658 Cantor families who had lost loved ones in the attack. We provided financial, emotional, and legal support to our families. Howard gave the families ten years of health insurance and 25 percent of the firm's profits for five years.

As time passed, the CFRF expanded its mission to include, among other things, providing direct financial assistance to military families and victims of natural disasters.  

We learned that the best way to assist other families with dignity and grace is to give them direct financial assistance. We also witnessed the resilience of young moms — we learned that in the face of tragedy, they have no choice but to raise themselves up and carry on for the sake of their children, to bring happiness into their lives despite loss and pain. So, we focus our resources on families with young children that are financially struggling as a result of a trauma in their life....

Read the full Q&A with Allison Lutnick.

[Review] The Post-Pandemic Nonprofit: 12 Disruptive Trends Your Nonprofit Must Master

September 10, 2021

Book_cover_the_post_pandemic_nonprofitThe last eighteen months have seen dramatic and — not to wear out a word we've all seen too much of as of late — "unprecedented" change across all industries of the global economy. The United States is no exception, nor is the nonprofit sector. As charitable organizations contend with figuring out what the "new normal"  looks like, Jeremy Reis, an experienced fundraising professional with a particular expertise in international development, offers to guide nonprofits on a path to post-pandemic success. While there is no denying that Reis has solid advice to give in The Post-Pandemic Nonprofit: 12 Disruptive Trends Your Nonprofit Must Master, given how quickly change can happen, the biggest question may be how long that advice will remain relevant and useful.

The Post-Pandemic Nonprofit contains exactly what it says on the tin. Reis has identified twelve strategies across three categories that he sees as key areas of investment for nonprofits to focus on as a way to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic philanthropic landscape: Who We Are (organizational identity), How We Operate (programming and functionality), and How We Grow (innovation and organizational development). While not all of these strategies are applicable to every nonprofit — and identifying his audience is something Reis struggles with throughout the book — the breadth of the suggestions means that most nonprofit professionals will be able to find something relevant and helpful to their organization's needs....

Read the full review by Audrey Silveman.

'A roadmap for how to respond to and provide funding for addressing collective traumas': A commentary by Stephanie Berkowitz

September 09, 2021

Headshot_Stephanie_Berkowitz_2_NVFSTwenty years after 9/11: Prioritizing trauma-informed mental health care

Twenty years after the September 11 attacks, lessons from that experience continue to inform the most effective ways to provide mental health support to individuals, families, and communities in crisis. At the same time, new lessons have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing demand for racial justice. Together, these insights provide a roadmap for how to respond to and provide funding for addressing collective traumas for families as diverse as refugees arriving in this country from Afghanistan to those displaced by hurricanes. 

In 2001, the Greater Washington Community Foundation tapped Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) to provide trauma recovery services to survivors of the attack on the Pentagon. The September 11 Survivors' Fund was intentionally set up to be flexible and broadly focused. While we provided services to survivors most obviously impacted — those who were physically injured in the attack — we also supported a flight attendant who lost colleagues on the plane that flew into the Pentagon, a firefighter who saw the unimaginable and chose to change professions, and anguished family members who lost loved ones, among others. In all, the $25 million fund helped 1,051 people.

Years later, we learned of a group of construction workers from El Salvador who participated in clean-up efforts at the Pentagon but did not receive Survivors' Fund services. Only then did we recognize a significant shortcoming on our part. Since then, we have come to understand that targeted outreach to underserved populations in multiple languages by professionals with fluency in a variety of cultural traditions is the most effective way to reach neighbors who are frequently overlooked and disproportionately impacted by communitywide crises....

Read the full commentary by Stephanie Berkowitz, president and CEO of Northern Virginia Family Service.

'What happens when funders don't center community voice in decision making': A commentary by Hannah Lee

September 07, 2021

Headshot_Hannah Lee_Cognizant_FoundationIt's time for philanthropy to trust and listen better to grantee partners

When Ralph Hoagland, the founder of CVS, recruited three hundred of his neighbors from the wealthy, liberal, and largely white Boston suburbs to donate to the Fund for Urban Negro Development (FUND) to support Black entrepreneurs, he promised a “no strings attached” approach to philanthropy. The group's aim was to support Black businesses and community organizations, build Black wealth, and foster community development across the city. FUND emphasized that Boston's Black leaders already had "the ability to solve the problems” facing their communities but just lacked the necessary resources to do so.

Importantly, the group promised not to interfere through "white controls, advice, or helpful hints." At the same time, FUND's white members did expect to serve as coaches and mentors. When Black leaders rejected some of the mentors' advice, members began pulling their support to FUND — and just four years after its launch, the group disbanded.

The story of FUND, more fully detailed in a research paper, took place more than half a century ago. But the rhetoric and eventual outcomes feel all too familiar. It serves as a powerful reminder about what happens when funders don't center community voice in decision making. And it remains a cautionary tale for those working in philanthropy today — especially in the wake of COVID-19 and our nationwide reckoning around racial justice....

Read the full commentary by Hannah Lee, a director at the Cognizant Foundation.

 

 

'We have to infuse equity into every part of the system': A Q&A with Priti Krishtel

September 02, 2021

Headshot_Priti Krishtel_I-MAKlPriti Krishtel is a health justice lawyer who has spent nearly two decades exposing structural inequities that limit access to medicines and vaccines across the Global South and the United States. She is the co-founder and co-executive director of I-MAK (Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge), a nonprofit organization building a more just and equitable medicines system. An Echoing Green Global Fellow, TED speaker, Presidential Leadership Scholar, and Ashoka Fellow, she is a frequent contributor to leading international and national news outlets on issues of domestic and global health equity.

PND asked Krishtel about inequity across the globe as it relates to COVID-19 vaccines, challenges in the United States of ensuring an equitable medicines system, the drug pricing crisis, and what funders can do to bring about change. Here is an excerpt:

Philanthropy News Digest: I-MAK states that a global pandemic, economic and racial awakening, and skyrocketing costs of medicine have created a crucial mandate for equity in the drug development system, especially with growing inequity across the globe as it relates to COVID-19 vaccines. What action do you believe leaders of national governments should be engaged in to mitigate those disparities? And what are the most significant barriers to improving vaccine access worldwide?                       

Priti Krishtel: I cannot stress this point enough: In a pandemic, no country is safe until every country is safe. Today, vaccinations are readily available in wealthy countries like the U.S. However, it's a completely different situation for most of the world's population: so far, less than 2 percent of residents in low-income countries have been vaccinated. Until we employ an equitable system to make sure that vaccines are available everywhere, that all countries have access to the vaccine, and that everyone who is willing and able is vaccinated, variants will not stop. Governments — and wealthy nations in particular — have to stop taking a country-by-country, nationalistic approach to pandemic responses and instead start looking at the system holistically. With every passing day, the risk of a mutated COVID-19 variant that is resistant to vaccines grows.

The Delta variant teaches us that we have to radically and rapidly rethink our approach to recover from this pandemic and adequately prepare for the next. We can't do this by relying on market incentives alone. Right now, pharmaceutical companies are incentivized to lock up knowledge to maximize profits to serve shareholder interests rather than share that knowledge and bring this pandemic to an end.

Philanthropy can play a catalytic role in this moment. Philanthropy is the only sector with the resources, capacity, and global connections to resource organizations and individuals leading the fight for a globally more just and equitable medicines system. It can and must play a connective and transformative role in stemming the gap in places where countries, communities, and individuals are being left behind....

Read the full Q&A with Priti Krishtel.

'Step up, think big, and support capacity building': A commentary by Kevin Brege

September 01, 2021

Storyweaver_googleorgSupporting social innovation from the grassroots up: Insights for fostering breakthroughs

Social impact organizations and nonprofits around the globe fight tirelessly to make the world a better place. Their teams are connecting with their communities, building coalitions, and coming up with new solutions to some of the world's toughest problems. And while innovative solutions to social issues can come from anywhere, time and time again they are most likely to come from people who are closest to the problems they're trying to solve.

Since 2013, we've been engaged in an experiment at Google.org — which we call the Google.org Impact Challenge (GIC) — to unearth breakthrough ideas from unexpected places....We work with a panel of experts from the community to select ideas with the greatest potential for impact and offer grant funding, technical support, and volunteer time from Google employees who help develop their ideas.

To better understand what's working and where there are persistent barriers to social innovation, we recently surveyed eighty GIC grantees with the help of the LEAP Pecaut Centre for Social Impact and the Boston Consulting Group.

The most important takeaway is that social innovators are calling on funders to step up, think big, and support capacity building....

Read the full commentary by Kevin Brege, global lead for Google.org Impact Challenges at Google.

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

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