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12 posts from December 2021

Supporting artists in a time of crisis: A commentary by Maurine Knighton and Kerry McCarthy

December 30, 2021

Theater_phegenbart_pixabayPerforming artists are in crisis due to COVID-19: Here’s how to help

The arts play an essential role in American society — bringing joy to audiences, provoking thought and ideas, giving voice to those who are otherwise overlooked, teaching us about cultures other than our own, creating pride in communities, and providing us with therapeutic outlets.

This last service has never been more critical than during the past twenty months, as we’ve dealt with the amplified, collective trauma connected to COVID-19, political division, and racial injustice. Throughout this tumultuous time, the arts have given us opportunities to heal and process the anxiety and stress of day-to-day life.

When we experience art, we often value the work itself. We rarely take time to think about and value the people behind the creation.

Many of us enjoy the benefits of art without considering the sweat that goes into it or acknowledging that the artists who create and deliver it are facing the same pressures and challenges that we’re experiencing during these difficult times. In fact, making a living as a performing artist during the pandemic has been impossible for most — and especially for artists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color and for those who are immigrants or older adults, identify as women or LGBTQ+, or have disabilities....

Read the full commentary by Maurine Knighton and Kerry McCarthy, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and vice president for philanthropic initiatives at the New York Community Trust.

(Photo credit: phegenbart via pixabay)

The top ten philanthropy stories of 2021

December 28, 2021

Calendar_pages_GettyImages-93870456_grublee

For our final newsletter (subscribe here for our newsletters and alerts) of 2021, the editors at Philanthropy News Digest shared (in chronological order) the ten stories that we felt were particularly significant for philanthropy — both in the moment and for the future. We aimed to include stories that addressed major areas of philanthropic interest this year: climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, education, racial equity, and social justice to name a few.

 

Perhaps the most noticeable omission from the list is the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates, which we decided had not yet led to visible changes in the foundation’s grantmaking, although changes are expected in its governance structure.

 

What other social sector news resonated most with you in 2021? Please share your thoughts about our list on Twitter — tag us @pndblog — or leave a comment below.

Thank you for making PND a part of your important work on the vital issues of our time. We hope you all have a safe, healthy, and joyful end of the year and enter 2022 filled with hope.

— Matt Sinclair

 

DAFs may have cost charities $300 billion over five years, study finds

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The report from the Boston College Law School Forum on Philanthropy and the Public Good found that the share of individual giving going to charities fell from 94.1 percent before the advent of donor-advised funds to less than 75 percent between 2014 and 2018, with an estimated $300 billion that otherwise might have gone to charities going into DAFs and foundations....



Asian American Foundation raises nearly $1.1 billion

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Established with initial commitments totaling $125 million from founding board members, the foundation has raised more than $900 million from foundations, corporations, and individuals in support of efforts to address a longstanding lack of investment in Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities and combat anti-AAPI violence....



Marguerite Casey calls for funding police and criminal justice reform

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Launched on the one-year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd, Answering the Uprising: Closing the Say/Do Gap in Philanthropy is aimed at "correcting" the inadequate response of philanthropy to the racial justice uprisings in 2020....




MacKenzie Scott awards grants totaling nearly $2.74 billion

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Grants were awarded to nearly three hundred "high-impact organizations in categories and communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked"....





Rockefeller, IKEA foundations launch $1 billion clean energy platform

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With the aim of reducing a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions and providing a billion people with distributed renewable energy through mini-grid and off-grid solutions, the initiative will be run as a public charity designed to deploy catalytic capital more efficiently and at scale that supports the expansion of local renewable energy projects....



Nearly $40 billion pledged to accelerate gender equality by 2026

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Commitments announced at the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women included $21 billion from governments and public-sector institutions, $13 billion from the private sector, $1.3 billion from UN entities and multilateral organizations, and $4.5 billion from philanthropy....




Philanthropies pledge $5 billion to 'Protecting Our Planet Challenge'

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The commitments from nine philanthropies will fund efforts to meet the 30x30 goal to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030 in partnership with Indigenous peoples, local communities, civil society, and governments....




Powell Jobs to invest $3.5 billion in climate action over ten years

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According to an Emerson Collective official, the Waverley Street Foundation "will focus on initiatives and ideas that will aid underserved communities who are most impacted by climate change" and sunset after ten years....




GivingTuesday 2021 raises an estimated $2.7 billion in the U.S.

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The GivingTuesday Data Commons estimates that giving totals increased 9 percent from $2.47 billion in 2020, with thirty-five million adults in the U.S. participating, a 6 percent increase over last year....





Bloomberg Philanthropies commits $750 million for charter schools

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The five-year initiative is aimed at closing student achievement gaps — which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for students from lower-income families — and creating an additional hundred and fifty thousand seats at high-quality charter schools in twenty metro areas....

Striking a balance in education philanthropy: A commentary by Annie W. Bezbatchenko and Tamara Mann Tweel

December 27, 2021

Remote_learning_mother_boy_GettyImages_SeventyFourAchieving both breadth and depth in education philanthropy

Picture a one-room schoolhouse. Ten children ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old are seated in front of a teacher who lives in their community. Now picture the Khan Academy. Fifteen million students, each in a separate room, digesting short video lessons recorded by hundreds of individuals in countries they may have never visited. The leap from the physical room to the virtual room is both thrilling and destabilizing. On the one hand, education has been democratized and access to it made available to millions of students. On the other hand, education has been sapped of the emotional vitality that connects a student to a teacher and a group of peers.

For foundations invested in education, the choices can seem stark: Do we help educate the many or the few? Do we focus on large-scale content delivery or personal mentorship? Do we aspire for reach or for depth? At the Teagle Foundation, with its focus on liberal arts education, we have tried to navigate the options by exploring new mediums of scale without losing our grip on the longstanding benefits that a humanistic education offers: (a) a relationship with a teacher; (b) relationships with peers; and (c) texts that shape how students understand the world and their place within it. Rather than pursue an either/or approach in our grantmaking, we have sought to strike a balance between the two....

Read the full commentary by Annie W. Bezbatchenko and Tamara Mann Tweel, senior program officer and program director for civic initiatives, respectively, at the Teagle Foundation.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/SeventyFour)

Improving higher education outcomes for single mothers: A commentary by Jennifer Zeisler

December 22, 2021

Mother_college_grad_son_GettyImages_SDI ProductionsInvesting in higher education for single mothers to transform the U.S. economy

Before it’s too late, we must address a critical gap in this country’s economic recovery strategy: help for single mothers in college. These determined mothers understand the connection between their education and their families’ long-term financial security, and they have proven that they are ready and willing to take on the work that will fuel our future. It’s time for the philanthropic sector to follow their lead.

Over the last five years, ECMC Foundation has funded efforts to improve educational outcomes for single mothers, who represent more than one in ten undergraduates in the United States. We have learned that with a bit of additional support, single mothers can help drive equitable economic growth. As the only national foundation focused on the college success of single mothers, we have also learned that too few funders are making this type of sound investment. Women of color, who disproportionately pursue degrees while parenting, bear the brunt of this lack of investment. To achieve gender and racial equity in the years to come, more funders must commit to ensuring that single mothers have access to the education they want and need.

As we know from the economic recovery from the Great Recession, many jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage require educational attainment beyond high school. Single mothers are distinctly aware of the economic calculus of enrolling in college: Nearly half attend community colleges, where they pursue degrees in health care, information technology, and other middle-skill sectors that have the potential to fuel the country’s economic engine. They know that earning a college degree pays off, and they are right: Single mothers with an associate’s degree are nearly half as likely to live in poverty as those with a high school diploma.

But as the pandemic has made painfully obvious, it is difficult for parents, especially mothers, to work without access to child care. This is especially true for single-mother students, who must balance care, work, and school — and was true long before the pandemic. Facing high poverty rates and having limited time to devote to their studies due to work and family demands, fewer than 10 percent of single-mother students graduate on time....

Read the full commentary by Jennifer Zeisler, senior program director for career readiness at ECMC Foundation.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/SDI Productions)

Building the political and civic power of historically excluded communities: A commentary by Christine White

December 20, 2021

I_Voted_stickers_element5-digital_unsplashDonating to civic engagement organizations is an investment in a thriving democracy

As the nation approaches yet another midterm election cycle, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to invest in civic engagement year-round. This is perhaps some of the most important work we can do to preserve, protect, and strengthen our democracy.

The goal of civic engagement as a function of community organizing is to build the political and civic power of communities historically excluded from the political process. These communities have been less likely to benefit from shifts in political power and therefore have had fewer tangible incentives to overcome generations of voter suppression to make their vote count.

The work of voter registration is difficult and tedious — but also rewarding and necessary. While 95 percent of eligible voters in Georgia are registered, this is no reason to slow down or scale back. The work of registering the remaining 5 percent of unregistered voters is probably the most important civic engagement work we can do. Why? Because those remaining 5 percent of unregistered voters are the most isolated, most marginalized, and most disenfranchised segments of our population. This is the population that generations of voter suppression, voter purging, and voter intimidation tactics have worked to silence — and have succeeded in silencing. These folks are overwhelmingly in the lowest income bracket, do not have a driver’s license, and do not have stable housing....

Read the full commentary by Christine White, executive director of the Georgia Alliance for Progress.

(Photo credit: Eelement5 digital via Unsplash)

The sustainable nonprofit: It’s about impact over output

December 16, 2021

Pizza_box_jamesoladujoye_pixabayTalking about outcomes, not outputs: How nonprofits can shift donors’ mindsets on funding

Consider these two scenarios and pay attention to your initial reaction to each:

Scenario 1: You’re making a $50 donation on a nonprofit’s website. Before you check out, the nonprofit asks if you wish to add $2 to help cover their administrative costs. The total cost to you is $52.

Scenario 2: You’re purchasing a takeaway meal, online, and the meal costs $25. At check out, a $2 convenience fee is automatically included, plus you add a $3 tip — and there’s an 8 percent sales tax. The total cost to you is $32.40.

The first scenario is more money, but the $2 added administrative cost is 4 percent of the total. The takeaway meal, on the other hand, has added costs of 30 percent. How many of you read the first scenario and tilted your head, while the second scenario felt like a routine Thursday night dinner?

I’ve worked in and around nonprofits for more than twenty years, and as it relates to inviting people to cover administrative costs, I routinely hear comments like: “Why should I help pay for this nonprofit’s overhead?” My response is usually something like: “Because the emails don’t send themselves!”

Would people feel the same way if donation transaction fees were automatically included, instead of being presented as a choice? They probably would, because we’ve been conditioned this way, and because nonprofits are often woefully behind the curve in how they talk about what they talk about....

Read the full column article by Evan Wildstein, a fundraiser and nonprofiteer in Houston, Texas.

The sustainable nonprofit: The world is not black and white

December 14, 2021

African_American_women_survey_GettyImages_FG TradePro vs. con, or can you find a home in the middle of a social issue?

When you perform qualitative interviews with the general public, you realize two things very quickly: The world is not black and white, and people for the most part are torn on where they stand.

As researchers, we must try to understand the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of the public or a target audience as defined by the clients, organizations, and movements we work for. In that work, we find ourselves using qualitative and ethnographic methods to dig deeper into the sometimes surface-level quantitative data we receive.

In the past year alone, I’ve participated in at least twenty-five research projects in which we were tasked with understanding the mindset of the American public as it relates to a specific social issue. We found ourselves engaging with rural, urban, and suburban individuals who often strike an interesting balance on issues — between what they grew up with, learned, or even experienced in their earlier lives, and the complexity of today’s issues in a world where technology, connection, and relationships are being created and built at varying levels.

This means that many individuals are neither “pro” nor “anti” about most things. They often reflect a spectrum of support as they work through their personal decisions about whether to support, oppose, or even take no stance on an issue....

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

(Photo credit: GettyImages/FG Trade)

We need an integrated approach to serving homeless youth: A commentary by Melissa MacDonnell

December 13, 2021

Boy_depression_homeless_violence_GettyImages_MotortionFalling through systemic gaps: The invisible plight of youth experiencing homelessness

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 4.2 million young people in the United States were homeless. According to the Voices of Youth Count initiative at the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, one in thirty adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 and one in ten young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 had experienced some form of homelessness in any given twelve-month period.

You might ask: Where are these youth? They are, quite literally, right in front of us. They’re blending in near college campuses or at bus stations. They’re moving from one friend’s couch to another’s. In too many cases, they’re exchanging security for exploitation. Often, youth experiencing homelessness don’t want to be found. They’re running from families that have abused them and systems that have failed them. By the time they’re on the streets, their young lives have been mired in loss.

The “experience” of youth homelessness is not one that is equally shared. LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely as their peers to report homelessness. Black or African-American youth face an 83 percent higher risk of being homeless. Over a third of homeless youth were in the foster care system, and 35 percent of homeless youth have experienced the death of at least one parent or primary caregiver.

While our nation’s attention has understandably been on older adults with the highest risk of mortality from COVID-19, recent reports illustrate untold stories of its impact among young people: alarming levels of school absenteeism, hunger, housing insecurity, and mental health challenges. When the COVID wave recedes, it’s bound to leave far too many young lives devastated in its wake....

Read the full commentary by Melissa MacDonnell, president of Liberty Mutual Foundation.

 

Centering Black women and their lived experiences: A commentary by Stacey D. Stewart

December 09, 2021

Mother_with_baby_doctor_hospital_getty_imagesWant to advance racial equity? Prioritize the needs of Black women

This year, as we turn to philanthropic giving and think about how we can better invest in our communities, it is crucial that we center Black women and their lived experiences.

Black women have always been at the heart of the fight to repair centuries of disinvestment, neglect, systemic racism, and social injustice, but our communities and organizations are continually underfunded and under-supported. This means that Black women and Black communities often have to fight simply to be heard.

The lack of investment and understanding of culturally appropriate care translates to real-life health disparities: For example, Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from pregnancy compared with white women. The lasting legacy of systemic racism still plagues our country — and it continues to disproportionately affect Black women in many ways. According to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 74 percent of Black mothers serve as the breadwinners in their household. This has a cascading effect on Black families — meaning fewer groceries in the kitchen, smaller family savings, and less money, if any, to set aside for child care or future investments in higher education.

As the president and CEO of March of Dimes, a Black woman, and a mother to two daughters, I am deeply invested in ensuring that mothers and children are happy and healthy and receive the care they need. It’s also very personal for me. Growing up as the child of a Black physician, I witnessed early on how health inequities influence the health outcomes of Black mothers and children. Our healthcare system has failed Black Americans for centuries, and our communities deserve better. I am proud to lead this organization with its rich, eighty-year history of ideating and innovating to better serve and uplift all families, regardless of wealth, race, gender, or geography....

Read the full commentary by Stacey D. Stewart, president and CEO of March of Dimes.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

'All that we hold sacred hung in the balance': A Q&A with Allie Young, Founder, Protect the Sacred

December 07, 2021

Headshot_Allie_Young_Protect_the_SacredAllie Young is a citizen of the Diné Navajo Nation from the Northern Agency of the reservation in Northern New Mexico. She is founder of Protect the Sacred, which educates and empowers the next generation of Navajo and Indian Country leaders and allies to use storytelling and community building to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty and protect Indigenous elders, languages, and medicine ways. Protect the Sacred is a program of Harness, an organization launched after the 2016 presidential elections to educate, inspire, and activate an interdependent community of cultural organizers to use the power of storytelling to imagine and create a more equitable world.

Protect the Sacred began as an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic — which struck the Navajo Nation particularly hard — to organize Navajo youth to stay home and keep their families safe. Ahead of the 2020 elections, Young organized Ride to the Polls, which encouraged tribal citizens living on reservations and in remote communities to saddle up and travel to polling places. Over the past year, Protect the Sacred has expanded into a grassroots movement supporting frontline efforts to address the pandemic and ensure access to healthcare information and vaccines.

This Native American Heritage Month, PND asked Young about her work with Protect the Sacred, including efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its impact on Native cultural heritage; her focus on youth; and the impact of storytelling on racial equity.

Philanthropy News Digest: What compelled you to return home to the reservation and launch Protect the Sacred? What were your immediate priorities in the earliest days?

Allie Young: In March 2020, I made the decision to travel from Los Angeles — where I’ve resided the last five years — to my homelands of the Navajo Nation to be with family and in my community. The first confirmed COVID-19 case reached the Navajo Nation before I did. By the end of March, the community was abuzz with talk of the rapidly rising positivity rate. By mid-May, the Navajo Nation dominated national headlines for having the highest per-capita infection rate in the United States. Few of these early articles spoke to the threat of cultural devastation posed by COVID-19. For my community and others like it, much more than death was at stake: All that we hold sacred hung in the balance.

When my former colleagues at the Indian Health Service asked in early March whether I’d be interested in helping them execute a social media campaign centered on COVID-19 awareness, I agreed without hesitation. This felt like a glimpse of hózhó (beauty and balance) — an opportunity to help change the trajectory of the virus in the Navajo Nation.

Read the full Q&A with Allie Young.

'Start from the values and causes you care about': A commentary by Anne Welsh McNulty

December 06, 2021

Food_bank_nico-smit_unsplashThree end-of-year giving tips from someone who gives for a living

Americans are incredibly generous. Individuals in this country donate more than $300 billion a year to charitable organizations — and more than 30 percent of that giving occurs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. When donating your money during the holiday rush, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the worthy causes and noble organizations to choose from.

As the co-founder of the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation, I’m lucky. I get to give money all year long — nearly $25 million over the last ten years — to exceptional changemakers through our flagship McNulty Prize as well as to our important education partners and other efforts close to our heart. We work every day to find trustworthy and effective leaders to support and make our giving more effective.

Here are a few lessons we’ve learned along the way about how to make the most impact with charitable donations:

Start from the values and causes you care about.

This is your giving, which means it’s your chance to support organizations that represent your values. Personally, I find that my values are rooted in the experiences of my own life, my husband’s life, and our families’ immigrant history. If you’re finding it challenging to articulate your values, it may help to reflect on the opportunities or inequities you’ve experienced or witnessed that have moved you most....

Read the full commentary by Anne Welsh McNulty, co-founder and president of the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation.

(Photo credit: Nico Smit via Unsplash)

Support for first-generation college students beyond scholarships: A commentary by Andrew Davis and Sam Ritter

December 02, 2021

News_africanamerican_gradsThe power of private scholarships to fuel systemic change for first-generation college students

The challenge

Each year philanthropists invest $6.1 billion in private scholarships for more than 1.6 million students on their way to earning a college degree. Many of these scholarships were created to help level the playing field for first-generation and underrepresented students. But scholarships alone cannot remove all obstacles faced by first-generation students both in accessing higher education and graduating on time.

College completion has proven to produce better economic outcomes and job prospects, higher wages, increased satisfaction levels, and a higher quality of life. However, when college scholarships are awarded without a focus on completion, promising young people often struggle to navigate the road to graduation. Before a first-generation student can take advantage of the professional and social mobility a college degree can provide, that student must first graduate. But graduation is not only the result of academic commitment; it also requires a student to deal with the social, emotional, and financial strains of pursuing a degree. While this is true for all students, the problem is more pronounced for students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Inclusivity initiatives, students’ hard work, and the availability of scholarships have unlocked access to higher education for some students. But once enrolled, those students are often left to navigate college without the on-campus support they need. First-generation students often struggle to find an on-campus community that looks, acts, and speaks like them or understands their background. Even the hardest-working student relies on numerous factors, including community, to successfully graduate. Due to longstanding institutional blind spots, colleges and universities can overlook or underestimate the challenges of being a first-generation student. The result? Lower graduation rates despite sufficient academic ability....

Read the full commentary by Andrew Davis and Sam Ritter, the founder and director, respectively, of the Davis New Mexico Scholarship.

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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