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14 posts from June 2022

The sustainable nonprofit: What is a 'winning' narrative?

June 27, 2022

Hand_holding_megaphone_pexels-sora-shimazaki-5935743In the social issue space, new narratives pop up all the time as movements, companies, and organizations attempt to grab and keep the public’s attention. How do you know if (and when) the narrative you’ve created for the social issue you’ve chosen to address is the “winning” one?

While narrative is often conflated with hot-button topics and culture wars, no one “wins” by drowning others out. You win only when the public adopts your narrative as the cultural norm for a given issue—and changes their behaviors to reflect that shift....

Regardless of the social issue they’re working to address, today’s leaders must understand that narrative adoption is not a rational undertaking. Whenever the opposing side on an issue raises a challenge, we often see narratives created to change public opinion but in reality do nothing more than exploit facts or events—taking one fact and creating false context to win public sentiment. And though this approach isn’t new, many organizations and movements still seem taken aback when it happens. Again, this is illustrated in Moyer’s stages of movement development.

Below is a guide to knowing whether your narrative has inspired the public to change viewpoints. We look at it in three stages: Narrative Adoption, Narrative Attitude Shifting, and Narrative Behavior Inducing....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project, lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Sora Shimazaki via pixels)

An urgent call to invest in trans futures: A commentary by Kris Hayashi

June 24, 2022

Pride_flag_LGBTQ_CristinaMoliner_GettyImages-1313349355Recent data show that only 4¢ of every $100 of foundation funding goes to trans organizations and causes. Only four cents.What does this historic disinvestment in our communities mean for how we envision our future? And what can we do about it?

This Pride, I am not just honoring past resistance and celebrating ourselves now. I am reflecting on the importance of joining together to shape our future. In the face of escalating attacks against so many of our communities, Pride is all of it: It is about showing up for trans youth, defending Black lives, fighting for reproductive justice, and demanding an end to the detention of trans immigrants....

In 2015 there were 15 anti-trans bills enacted into law. This year, at last count, there were 140 anti-trans bills introduced in 34 states. What we are seeing now in the United States is an unprecedented level of attack....Why is this happening? These anti-trans laws and policies have long been a strategy of the conservative right to motivate their base constituents during election cycles, especially in states with governors and other state legislators who are aspiring candidates for national office—and they are deeply investing in this strategy. These efforts are part of a well-worn playbook used by political conservatives that include attacks on voting rights, racial justice, and reproductive rights....

Read the full commentary by Kris Hayashi, executive director at the Transgender Law Center.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Cristina Moliner)

Philanthropic funders’ role in addressing the refugee crisis: A commentary by John Canady

June 22, 2022

Syrian_refugee_girl_studying_PlanBørneFondenThe UK government recently announced plans to deport undocumented refugees to Rwanda as part of a controversial plan to tackle immigration. The United Kingdom’s hardline approach to the refugee crisis points to a polarized debate many countries are grappling with: What are the costs of immigration and asylum seeking on host communities? Do we, as a public and as individuals, have a moral duty to welcome refugees into our societies?

The Ukrainian refugee crisis is just the latest in a series to hit the headlines. Last year, the mass exodus of Afghans made headlines after Western forces’ botched withdrawal from the country. In its 12th year, the Syrian refugee crisis remains the world’s largest such crisis of this century, with roughly 6.8 million Syrians now refugees and asylum-seekers.

Significant funding is urgently needed to address these conflicts as well as other less widely reported humanitarian crises. Philanthropists are uniquely positioned to help in these times of crisis. They provide much-needed support to NGOs and a sector still reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also have the agility, motivation, resources, and, crucially, the financial means to play an important connecting role between governments and the third sector....

Read the full commentary by John Canady, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust UK.

(Photo credit: PlanBørneFonden)

It's time for philanthropy to invest in Black women: A commentary by Maria S. Johnson

June 19, 2022

African_American_woman_protest_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicMany of us are feeling disillusioned by the current state of affairs in the United States. This includes the rollback of reproductive rights, white supremacist mass shootings, rising costs for basic needs, and shortages of essential items like baby formula—which are occurring as we are still enduring a pandemic that has taken more than a million lives.

Reporting indicates that Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by these events. Black mothers have limited access to quality prenatal care and access to abortions. Black grandmothers who were community and charitable pillars were targeted and murdered at a supermarket, and low-income Black women are facing insurmountable rising costs and housing instability. All of this can feel overwhelming, insurmountable even. I get it. And yet, there is something we can do: fund Black women and girl leaders.

As a Black woman from the South, I have lived, worked, and been educated in racially hostile spaces, subjected to racist and sexist slurs, and doubted and thwarted throughout my life. I have also witnessed the power of Black women and girls to create beloved communities and alter the trajectories of their and others’ lives when offered resources and opportunities. Coming from that reality, I learned early on that we all need support to thrive. For as long as we have lived in this country, Black women and girls have been on the ground addressing many of society’s most pressing ills. Moreover, Black women and girls have bravely looked beyond societal problems to imagine and create new futures in which not only Black women and girls but everyone can live safe, happy, liberated lives.

This resourcefulness and visionary approach are hallmarks of Black women and girls, but philanthropy fails them....

Read the full commentary by Maria S. Johnson, founder and chair of the Black Women and Girls Fund in Baltimore.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

What support for teachers should look like in the post-COVID world: A commentary by Kevin Beckford

June 16, 2022

Teacher_elementary_school_classroom_masks_GettyImages_Drazen ZigicWhile Teacher Appreciation Week lasts just five school days in early May, teachers give their all day in, day out, to ensure that the next generation of learners succeed. Unfortunately, the journey of a teacher is not an easy one. I am not the first person—and certainly won’t be the last—to point out the sobering realities of what many teachers experience in America. Teaching requires a lot from teachers—long work hours, certification and credentialing, continuous professional development, and the navigation of typically under-resourced and overstrained environments—and all of this for a barely livable wage. And as we consider how to improve conditions for teachers, we must acknowledge that we now live in a different world, a post-COVID world where existing challenges have been exacerbated and new practices and programs must be implemented to address the gross inequities illuminated by the pandemic.

As both a former educator and nonprofit leader, I encourage others in the philanthropic and nonprofit community to reevaluate what support for teachers should look like in the post-COVID world. Now, more than ever, we must invest in teachers. We must take this unique opportunity to implement innovative programs and support structures that enable great teachers to stay in the classroom and thrive....

Read the full commentary by Kevin Beckford, senior director of partnerships, strategy and programs, at Honored.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

Review: There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women

June 14, 2022

Book_cover_There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion WomenDespite the large number of financial transactions that take place on a daily basis, nearly a billion women around the world are still excluded from the financial system—and opportunities to gain financial independence. Ensuring equality of access to financial services would offer life-changing prospects for women.

In There’s Nothing Micro about a Billion Women: Making Finance Work for Women, Mary Ellen Iskenderian examines how financial inclusion could be instrumental to women’s financial independence and empowerment. The author uses her professional experience in the banking sector as well as academic research, case studies, and stories to illustrate the benefits of women’s financial inclusion and steps stakeholders need to take to eliminate gender-based barriers. Iskenderian points out that the advantages of closing the gender gap in financial services go beyond the life of the individual woman: It improves the lives of her family members and strengthens the community and the national economy. The author makes the case for women’s inclusion as a business strategy for financial service providers to add an underserved market to their portfolio.

Read the full book review by Mantin Diomande, a senior research analyst at Candid.

To build a more peaceful, just, and equitable world: A Q&A with Alexandra I. Toma

June 13, 2022

Headshot_Alex_Toma_Peace_and_Security_Funders_GroupSince 2013, Alexandra Toma has served as executive director of the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG), which connects and supports the global community of public, private, and operating foundations and individual philanthropists advancing peace and security efforts in order to build a more peaceful, just, and equitable world.

Prior to joining PSFG, Toma was executive director of the Connect U.S. Fund, a funder collaborative focused on incentivizing collaboration as a tool to meet today’s global challenges. While a director at the Ploughshares Fund, Toma founded the Fissile Materials Working Group, a coalition that she grew to 80 U.S. and international organizations providing action-oriented policy solutions to combat nuclear terrorism. Before her nonprofit experience, Toma served as a foreign policy and defense advisor to Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA).

Supriya Kumar, global partnerships manager at Candid, asked Toma about the importance of peace and security funding, how the field has evolved in the last 20 years and more recently with the crisis in Ukraine, as well as what best practices and success look like in peace and security funding.

Supriya Kumar: Can you share a bit about what the Peace and Security Funders Group does, as “peace and security” can seem amorphous to some of us?

Alexandra Toma: The Peace and Security Funders Group connects and supports the global community of funders advancing peace and security efforts to build a more peaceful, just, and equitable world. I’m often asked, “What does peace and security mean?” I tell my friends and family that it’s basically everything on the front pages of most newspapers around the world, [which is] truer today than ever, given the war in Ukraine, crisis in Sri Lanka, and other global crises. Peace and security is the front-page news relating to war, conflict, defense, national security, and peacebuilding. Without peace and security, none of the other charitable issues we care about can be accomplished, such as girls’ education, health, and even climate goals. When war strikes, all of our other charitable endeavors and goals either take a back seat or they’re so much harder to accomplish....

Read the full Q&A with Alexandra Toma, executive director of the Peace and Security Funders Group.

The path forward in the face of COVID-19 and anti-Asian hate: commentary by Jiny Kim

June 10, 2022

Asian_Americans_Advancing_Justice_AAJCIn bringing another Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to a close, I am reminded that this is the third one we have celebrated amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twenty-nine months ago, when the first reports of a new highly transmissible virus were emerging from China, the Asian American community held our breaths, fearing not only the virus itself but also the racialized scapegoating it could bring.

Twenty-eight months ago, we started seeing the first reports of COVID-related harassment of Asian Americans, and soon thereafter, Asian American businesses began shuttering, victims of racialized fearmongering, a full month prior to the declaration of a pandemic and mandated shut downs. 

And twenty-seven months ago, alongside nationwide shutdowns came reports of hate-fueled violence targeting our communities. Concurrently, resource-strapped local organizations serving the Asian American community faced capacity constraints to meet growing needs in the face of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and anti-Asian hate....

Read the full commentary by Jiny Kim, Vice President, Policy and Programs, at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.

(Photo credit: Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC)

Thinking less about the job postings, more about the jobs: A column article by Amy Born

June 09, 2022

Meeting_fizke_GettyImages-1164377560The Great Resignation. The Great Reshuffle. The Great Realignment. The Great and Terrible Oz. Whatever you call it, leaders are feeling it. 

Nothing is more important to an organization’s success than its people. My work with Leading Edge is all about that necessity, and I’ve been involved in countless conversations with talent professionals asking questions like: “How can I step up my recruiting in this environment? What does a job posting need to say to attract the right people? Where should I post this job to get a diverse pool of candidates?” In this “buyer’s market” for jobs, if we think about the job as a product, many of us focus on our sales pitch. 

It’s important to get our pitch right. But what if the problem is less with the pitch than the product? What would happen if we worried less about the job postings and more about changing the jobs?

It’s easy to assume that a job is static. You need a director of development. You need a volunteer coordinator. You need a finance associate. Those are the functions needed to get the work done. What can we change about that?

A lot, actually....

Read the full column article by Amy Born, chief strategy officer at Leading Edge.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/fizke)

The mental healthcare system needs a dramatic intervention: A commentary by John MacPhee

June 08, 2022

Youth_mental_health_FatCamera_GettyImages-1317882681The mental healthcare system in the United States needs a dramatic intervention. At best, our system is fragmented, siloed, and plagued by misaligned incentives that only deepen existing problems; at worst, critics might conclude that providing timely, effective mental health care to people in need is not its goal. Structural fixes are desperately needed to ensure equitable access to quality mental health care for everyone who needs it.

This includes our young people, who now face a worsening mental health crisis, exacerbated by a perfect storm of stressors including social unrest, acts of violence, bias and oppression directed at people of color and LBGTQ+ individuals, and the loss, grief, and isolation imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis urgently needs to be addressed, even if our mental health system is not designed to help everyone who needs it—which means that we must pursue all viable options. And partnerships with philanthropic organizations will be critical in turning the tide of this crisis.

In this country, almost one in three young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 and one in four teenagers experience a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. However, fewer than half of young people who needed mental health care in 2020 received it. Even for those who are brave enough to seek help, it is still heartbreakingly difficult to get the timely, affordable care they need....

Read the full commentary by John MacPhee, CEO of The Jed Foundation.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/FatCamera)

The sustainable nonprofit: Monthly donors require unique stewardship

June 06, 2022

Calendar_pages_GettyImages-93870456_grubleeSustaining monthly giving has grown in popularity to become one of the most reliable income sources for nonprofit and higher education advancement organizations. A new study from M+R found that in 2021, revenue from monthly giving increased by 24 percent and accounted for 22 percent of all online revenue, up from 16 percent in 2020. This special group of donors is not only committed to the organization but actively engaged in giving all year long, and this trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

According to the Association of Fundraising ProfessionalsFundraising Effectiveness Project, while the number of donors who gave between three and six times fell in 2021, the number of those who gave at least seven times increased—further indicating growth in monthly donors.

As a growing donor segment all their own, monthly donors require unique stewardship. They shouldn’t be on every prospect list or campaign appeal going out. Adopting five simple, straightforward strategies can help your organization cultivate, nurture, and grow monthly donors....

Read the full column article by James Werner, executive vice president of institutional advancement at Affinaquest.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/grublee)

Fighting hate and racism, uplifiting our stories: A commentary by Anisha Singh

June 03, 2022

Sikh_family_GettyImages_kadmy-155656880As our nation continues to grieve for the victims of the May 14 terrorist attack in Buffalo, New York, we once again find ourselves painfully reminded of the ever-present threat that white supremacy poses to marginalized communities in the United States.

Our first responsibility is to center the pain the Black community is experiencing in this moment. At the same time, we must also recognize that the horrific ideology that underpinned this violence stems from a more expansive racism and anti-Semitism—the same toxic hate behind numerous deadly assaults in recent years, from Pittsburgh to Charlottesville and Oak Creek to El Paso. And as Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month draws to a close, the recognition of this far-reaching threat comes with a challenge to all communities of color: How do we balance the urgent need to fight against the hate that plagues our communities and the need to take the time and space to uplift and celebrate our unique stories, identities, and contributions to our country?

This question is at the forefront of my mind as I join the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization, as its new executive director. The Sikh Coalition was founded in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when Sikhs and other religious minorities found themselves facing unprecedented levels of hate violence in the wake of that national tragedy. Many Sikhs—members of the fifth largest organized faith tradition in the world—keep visible articles of faith, including turbans and unshorn beards, which some Americans began conflating with images of the Taliban. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, the Sikh Coalition emerged as a network of attorneys, advocates, and experts who stepped up to provide free aid to community members who had been subjected to hate crimes or workplace discrimination....

Read the full commentary by Anisha Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition

(Photo credit: Getty Images/kadmy)

What grassroots activism means: A commentary by Priscilla Enriquez

June 02, 2022

Census_gettyimagesWhen the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States in early March 2020, the James B. McClatchy Foundation was in the midst of hosting roundtables to better understand our community in California’s Central Valley and the organizations serving it. While many foundations engage in this process, we believe these conversations are critical to the impact of our work, as it helps us understand what is happening in our community while building relationships and trust with key partners.

Even as COVID-19 case numbers began to rise and shutdowns were announced, our new chief impact officer, Misty Avila, was deep in the field, hosting meetings with community leaders. As the foundation’s CEO, I felt responsible for her safety in the face of this new public health threat; after a few moments of wrestling with what to do next, I called her and asked her to cancel her appointments and return home.

It soon became clear that this crisis would directly affect our work and our lives. We paused our community roundtables. Rather than just shifting in-person meetings to virtual ones and continuing with our plan, we took a moment to recognize how this global event was impacting the communities we cared about. At the end of March, we convened our community of grassroots leaders and sincerely asked the only question that really mattered: “How are you doing?” I look back at that defining moment as the cornerstone of our work.

At that meeting, one of the leaders shared that by standing in a food line with a client, he was also able to do some census outreach. This act of caring, combined with activism in that same moment, helped me to gain a deeper understanding of what “grassroots” activism means. It means acting on an unselfish drive to seek out opportunities, even in grim conditions, to improve people’s lives, because the future matters. While this leader was helping an elder navigate an unfathomable crisis, he also saw a future in which an accurate census count could help that elder.

And as funders, we need to act in a similar fashion....

Read the full commentary by Priscilla Enriquez, CEO of the James B. McClatchy Foundation.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The sustainable nonprofit: Three types of socially minded consumers

June 01, 2022

Small_business_latina_gorodenkoff_GettyImages-1293175094In a room packed with corporate marketing leaders and their respective brand marketing colleagues, I was up to talk about consumer interests and engagement in social issues. I opened with a key question: “How many of you think your consumers want your company/brand to address social issues?” Every person in the room raised their hand. One person even said, “Demand is a better word.”

Next question: “How many of you have consumers who actually have made decisions based on your position on social issues?” Fewer people raised their hands, and a lot of skeptical looks from the rest eventually forced the central question: “Do we really know consumers make choices because of our positions?”

The most likely answer is “No.” We know this from data we collect on social issue engagement with brands and their consumers. Consumers do have high expectations for companies to stand up and actively support issues, but—and this is a big “but”—not every consumer is acting with their wallet to drive home those expectations.

The data reveal three types of socially minded consumers that brands should be aware of as they navigate the social issue waters....

Read the full column article by Derrick Feldmann, founder of the Millennial Impact Project, lead researcher at Cause & Social Influence.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Leo Patrizi)

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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