209 posts categorized "Grantmaking"

An open ecosystem for scientific research: A commentary by Greg Tananbaum

July 25, 2022

Census_gettyimagesPhilanthropies aspire to lofty goals—solving seemingly intractable problems, creating a more just society, curing diseases, and deepening our understanding of our place in the universe. But the success of these missions depends not only on what we fund but on how we pursue solutions. Will our resources and efforts essentially serve to reinforce the status quo? The scale of our ambitions—indeed, the magnitude of the challenges we face as a society and a species–demands that we identify better ways to include a diversity of voices and approaches in our work.

Our organization, the Open Research Funders Group (ORFG), is a collaborative of 25 philanthropies representing annual giving of $12 billion that is committed to the open sharing of research outputs. Our members aim to increase the impact of the work we support by creating an open ecosystem for scientific research—where data, analytics, methods, materials, and publications are openly available to all to access, test, and build upon. This approach closes information-sharing gaps, encourages innovation, and increases trust in the scientific process.  

In the wake of a tumultuous 2020—the inequity laid bare by the George Floyd killing and the rampant disinformation surrounding COVID-19—ORFG members realized that we needed to think even more expansively about our entire grantmaking processes and whether they reflect our values. To truly support open research, inclusivity, and equity, we understood we needed to rethink how we make decisions about where our money goes, from the way we build and socialize funding programs, to how we develop diverse applicant pools, all the way through how we support grantees and alumni....

Read the full commentary by Greg Tananbaum, director of the Open Research Funders Group

Supporting BIPOC-led climate work creatively: A commentary by Kim Moore Bailey, Danielle Levoit, and Michele Perch

July 18, 2022

Delaware-River-Watershed_Thomas Kloc_GettyImages-1348223576Foundations across the United States have increased funding for racial equity and social justice over the last few years, but more needs to be done to support the organizations at the forefront of this work. A 2021 report by the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) found that, in 2018, the latest year for which complete grants data is available, just 6 percent of total philanthropic dollars supported racial equity work and only 1 percent supported racial justice initiatives. Similarly, in research by Echoing Green and the Bridgespan Group, an analysis of approximately 1,000 early-stage organizations found Black-led entities reporting 24 percent less in revenues and 76 percent less in unrestricted net assets than their white-led counterparts. There is a growing awareness of disparities like these; in fact, the PRE report noted a five-fold increase in the number of funders investing in racial equity and racial justice in the U.S. over the past 10 years. But even with increased support, the level of investment remains low as a percentage of overall philanthropic dollars and has not translated into commensurate resources for Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led (BIPOC) organizations. So how, as a philanthropic community, do we address this critical gap?

To truly advance equity in philanthropy, foundations must continue to increase financial investment, and the sector must also do more through new partnerships, approaches and grantmaking innovations to create opportunities that can deepen philanthropic impact. This will support BIPOC-led organizations in driving meaningful work anchored in social change.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) and the William Penn Foundation (WPF) recently embarked on an innovative partnership with Justice Outside to advance racial justice and equity in environmental conservation and, more broadly, to rethink how our foundations can better support BIPOC-led initiatives....

Read the full commentary by Kim Moore Bailey, Danielle Levoit, and Michele Perch. Bailey is president and CEO of Justice Outside, Levoit is a program officer for the environment at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Perch is a program officer for watershed protection at the William Penn Foundation.

(Photo credit: Thomas Kloc/Getty Images)

Ensuring movements are thriving and abundantly resourced: A commentary by Meenakshi Menon

July 06, 2022

Pride_flag_LGBTQ_CristinaMoliner_GettyImages-1313349355I began this Pride month in mourning for one of my most beloved movement idols. Against a backdrop of emboldened white supremacy, continued gun violence, attacks on bodily autonomy, rising inflation, and economic inequity, Urvashi Vaid passed away last month. Urvashi was many things: lawyer, activist, LGBTQ+ advocate, philanthropic organizer, and advisor. In her more than 40 years of activism, she worked tirelessly on behalf of racial, gender, and economic justice, centering collective liberation and intersectional organizing in all her efforts....

This year, Pride has felt particularly important, as communities of color, queer, trans, and gender-expansive communities, and our country faces some of the toughest attacks we’ve ever seen on trans youth, bodily autonomy, abortion access, and voting rights. As Pride has become adopted in more mainstream settings, it’s important to remember that no amount of corporate “rainbow washing” can obfuscate the legacy or importance of this month. The first Pride was a riot, led by trans and queer women of color like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Their courage and bravery during the Stonewall riots fundamentally shifted and transformed the fight for queer and trans liberation in our country, and cemented the struggle of LGBTQ+ people as one of the most important intersectional fights of our time.

Throughout this Pride month, I’ve often thought about Urvashi’s wisdom. In reflecting on her powerful legacy and those of so many other queer and trans leaders, given everything at stake, I’ve wondered about what else we can be doing. What can we do to better support our movement leaders and organizations who put their bodies on the line every day so that we can be more free? How can we ensure our movements are not just surviving, but thriving and abundantly resourced?...

Read the full commentary by Meenakshi Menon, interim co-executive director of Groundswell Fund and Groundswell Action Fund.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Cristina Moliner)

Nonprofits cannot be wholly dependent on grants: A commentary by Kisha L. Webster

June 29, 2022

Writing_check_donation_GettyImages_donald_gruenerLike so many in our nation, I am holding space to acknowledge, process and heal from the white supremacist attack at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store and the massacre of 21 young children and adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. I come to this moment understanding that for many people, this is the latest in a string of traumatic experiences, the cumulative effect of each one more devastating than the last. This is a time for grief, but it is also a time for reflection.

Many are asking: Why are mass shootings escalating in frequency and casualty? Why are some elected officials adamantly opposed to reforms that would save lives? Why are we increasingly vulnerable in public spaces? Those questions are top of mind, but we must dig deeper if we want change. There are questions not just people who permit the proliferation of guns but for those of us in proximity to movement building.

Many people who enter the social justice space do so because they want to do good. They want to effect change. They want to ensure that people can live with dignity while having their basic needs met. But to survive in this space, many have had to rely on grants. As the demand on nonprofits increase–and the challenges facing communities intensify–I am realizing that nonprofits cannot be wholly dependent on grants.

Grants do not ensure sustainability but rather trap grantees into an endless cycle of chasing dollars and proving they are deserving of said dollars. Grants create a scarcity mindset, forcing nonprofits to stand out, compete and distinguish themselves to receive a small share of the pie....

Read the full commentary by Kisha L. Webster, co-founder and executive director of the Greenmount West Community Center.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Donald Gruener)

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)

Integrating a focus on equity into our processes: A Q&A with Katy Knight, Executive Director and President, Siegel Family Endowment

February 11, 2022

Headshot_Katy_Knight_Siegel_Family_EndowmentKaty Knight is executive director and president of Siegel Family Endowment, a foundation focused on understanding and shaping the impact of technology on society.  Knight joined the foundation in 2017 as deputy executive director. Her earlier career included working on community engagement at financial sciences company Two Sigma; various positions at Google, most notably on the public affairs team; and roles in education, technology, and community-based organizations. She also previously served on her local Community Board in Queens, New York, and earned recognition in 2015 as a 40 Under 40 Rising Star in City & State. In addition, she serves on the boards of a number of nonprofits, including READ Alliance, CSforALL, Pursuit, and the Regional Plan Association.

PND asked Knight about philanthropy’s influence on infrastructure, the sector’s approach to equity, Big Tech’s impact and philanthropy’s technological future outlook, the politicization of science, and how philanthropy could fill gaps and drive change in education and workforce development.

Philanthropy News Digest: You’ve stated that you believe philanthropy should champion a new definition of infrastructure—like a bridge between social impact work and the infrastructure all communities need to thrive. What does that look like?

Katy Knight: The old definition of infrastructure is outdated: In the 21st century, the systems that are supposed to serve us all are more than just bridges, tunnels, and highways. Infrastructure today means broadband, satellite arrays, data, public spaces like libraries and parks, and more. We see infrastructure as multidimensional—meaning it includes physical, digital, and social elements.

Collectively, we need to recognize the multidimensional nature of infrastructure in order to design, govern, and fund it in a way that actually serves and benefits everyone in every community. As philanthropists, we can help advance and then implement this thinking by demonstrating what’s possible when it comes to infrastructure. We invest in organizations and initiatives that take an ecosystem approach, accounting for the physical, social, and digital dimensions of their impact....

Read the full Q&A with Katy Knight, executive director and president of Siegel Family Endowment.

Equitable application processes in the social innovation space: A commentary by Sarah Gass, Noam Lindenbaum, and Emily Lezin

February 09, 2022

Business_handshake_fundraising_GettyImagesCreating more equitable application processes

Social entrepreneurs who apply to a program, fellowship, or funding opportunity are essentially raising their hands to say, “I have a vision for the future, and I want to take my best shot at making it a reality.” At UpStart, we support a network of entrepreneurial Jewish ventures and leaders—and we know that every decision we make on an application can have long-term implications for what our community looks like and who receives support in building it.

In October 2021, our friends at the Harvard Kennedy School of Social Innovation + Change Initiative (SICI) published “Transparent Gatekeeping: Part 2,” which sheds light on their application and selection processes in the (secular) social innovation space. Given UpStart’s role in shaping this space within the Jewish community, we wanted to take a page from SICI’s playbook and share the changes we’ve implemented in our own application and selection processes.

Our learning journey

As conveners of a network of Jewish social entrepreneurs, we take seriously our responsibility to not only level the playing field in selection and recruitment, but also develop what we call “equity-informed entrepreneurial leaders”—leaders with the capacity to acknowledge, account for, and disrupt systemic inequities as they build new Jewish initiatives. We’re sharing these changes in hopes that those in our network and beyond will be inspired to create more equitable application and selection processes....

Read the full commentary by Sarah Gass, Emily Lezin, and Noam Lindenbaum, director and program experience coordinator of the Entrepreneurs and Ventures and program operations associate in the Intrapreneurs and Institutions program, respectively, at UpStart.

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)

'Philanthropic capital must play a bigger role in driving the systems shift we need': A commentary by Leslie Johnston

November 13, 2021

Blah_blah_blah_sign_-_Fridays_for_Future_pre-COP26_Milano_Mænsard vokserAll hands on deck: Philanthropy's extraordinary moment

Pressure is on here in Glasgow. Governments are rebalancing commitments so that they are on the right trajectory for alignment with the 2015 Paris agreement's targets. Business and industry are stepping up to do their part in everything from reducing deforestation to tackling methane emissions. And the finance sector is raising its ambition, as we saw with Mark Carney's announcement that $130 trillion in financial assets — 40 percent of the global total — have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. I have heard from many COP-weary delegates that there is something different about this one. Pledges abound, and there does seem to be (finally) a sense of urgency.

Yet even after this flurry of announcements, there is no certainty that emissions will actually be lower by 2030. The updated United Nations synthesis report on nationally determined contributions continues to show emissions increasing, rather than halving, by 2030. It is also unclear whether we — collectively — are doing enough to address climate injustice and the deepening inequality in our societies. And critical voices are not at the table, with widespread criticism over a lack of representation from the Global South. Once the delegates leave Glasgow, there is also no certainty over how effectively companies, investors, and governments will be held to account for their commitments.

And that's where we need more philanthropic funders to come in. Philanthropy is society's risk capital, enabling business, finance, and industry to move faster. Yet despite our being in a crisis situation, philanthropic foundations still dedicate a minuscule percentage — an estimated 2 percent — of their approximately $750 billion in global giving to climate mitigation. This must change....

Read the full commentary by Leslie Johnston, CEO of Laudes Foundation in Zug, Switzerland.

'Elements of a strong and sustainable funder-grantee relationship': A commentary by Susan Olivo and Brad Turner

October 29, 2021

Students learning to read on mobile devices_BenetechBuilding long-term partnerships with nonprofits to scale impact: Lessons from sustained funding relationships

Every foundation wants a nonprofit partner that shares in and will deliver on its mission. Every nonprofit wants to engage a funder that is willing to collaborate and help them grow. But while shared vision and mission are important, they are not everything. What are the elements of a strong and sustainable funder-grantee relationship that drive meaningful change and impact?

The Lavelle Fund for the Blind has long worked in partnership with its grantees to empower people who are blind and visually impaired to lead independent and productive lives. The fund pursues this impact by supporting direct services, such as vision screenings and larger-scale, systems-focused work. While funding direct services provides immediate and measurable benefit, focusing on systems change is more of a long-term investment. 

The fund's work with the nonprofit software organization Benetech falls squarely into the "systems-focused" category. When Benetech launched its Bookshare initiative in 2001 to help blind and visually impaired people access the printed word, the fund recognized the huge impact this technology could have if brought to scale and became one of Benetech's earliest supporters. This support ultimately helped Benetech earn a U.S. government grant to scale Bookshare nationally. Today, Bookshare provides nearly a million individuals who are blind or have other reading barriers with the accessible materials they need to read, learn, and build independent lives....

Read the full commentary by Susan Olivo and Brad Turner, executive director of Lavelle Fund for the Blind and vice president and general manager of global education and literacy at Benetech.

(Photo credit: Benetech)

'Tips for rapid grantmaking during a global pandemic': A commentary by Sierra Fox-Woods

October 18, 2021

News_mental_health.2Five tips for rapid grantmaking during a global pandemic: Lessons learned supporting adolescent mental health organizations during COVID-19

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread losses people have suffered — of loved ones, jobs, safety, and a sense of normalcy — community-based organizations are stepping up to bridge the gaps in social services. While government agencies are slower to move resources in response to real-time and evolving needs, philanthropy can act quickly and mobilize resources through rapid-response grantmaking.

At the Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, we've seen firsthand the challenges of reviewing high-volume, short-turnaround proposals. The initial concept for the fund was proposed in July 2020 as a collaborative COVID-relief fund at Panorama to focus on adolescent mental health and well-being, and was seeded by Melinda French Gates' Pivotal Ventures with additional support from the Klarman Family Foundation. Over the course of three months, we developed a grantmaking and implementation strategy supported by an advisory committee of practitioners, policy experts, and researchers, and issued a request for proposals in late October, with applications open for six weeks. The fund received 485 proposals from forty states and the District of Columbia, and to date has awarded more than $11 million to ninety-two organizations.

We'd like to share five considerations for rapid grantmaking that were critical to our process and designed in the spirit of advancing trust-based philanthropy. Some validated our own grantmaking principles at Panorama, such as the importance of giving general operating support grants, while others were unique to processes required to execute on an expedited timeline....

Read the full commentary by Sierra Fox-Woods, a program officer for Panorama's Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health.

 

How do we ensure that the largest transfer of generational wealth in history will be put to charitable use?

October 12, 2021

Bundles_of_money_$100_bills_Pictures_of_MoneyFor the past seven years, I have had the incredible privilege of running my family's foundation. Spending my working hours leading a team that makes decisions about how to give away funding, I am in the unique position of seeing up close the instrumental work nonprofits are doing to address the needs of our communities. From housing our unsheltered neighbors to connecting vulnerable young people with caring mentors, nonprofits ensure that donated dollars reach the people who need them most.

Yet charities doing this important work continue to face financial hardship. One report found that more than a third of nonprofits across the country are at risk of closing within two years. In addition, the nonprofit workforce has lost nearly nine hundred and sixty thousand jobs, a devastating blow to local economies and the most vulnerable in our communities. 

While the outlook is uncertain for nonprofits, the baby boomer generation is in the midst of planning the largest generational transfer of wealth in both U.S. and world history. At the federal level, we have long-established charitable tax deductions as a tax policy to incentivizes us to give. Now is the time to restart a public conversation about what we mean by charitable giving.

I am a proud Minnesotan. Minnesotans are generous people — setting aside money for the public good is in our DNA. Our largest corporations led the nation in charitable giving in the latter half of the twentieth century. Over the next two decades, Minnesotans will act on their generosity by setting aside money to support those charities we all understand to be both essential and in a precarious financial position. Yet the fact is that our current charitable giving laws no longer work as intended to increase the flow of resources to charities — at a time when they urgently need help.  

Currently, donors can set funds aside in charitable intermediaries — private foundations and donor-advised funds (DAFs) — and claim the full tax benefits of charitable giving. However, there's no guarantee that these funds will ever be put to charitable use; the connection between charitable tax benefits and benefits to charities is tenuous at best. Taxpayers are left footing the bill without any certainty of receiving the public benefits that working charities provide.

The data make clear that we need to modernize our charitable tax policy. Over the years, there has been a substantial shift in giving towards DAFs and private foundations and away from direct contributions to charities. According to a report released in May, charitable giving by individuals as a share of income has hovered around 2 percent over the past forty years, while contributions to DAFs and private foundations have grown from 5 percent in 1991 to 28 percent of all individual giving in 2019. Today, more than $1 trillion sits in private foundations and DAFs combined.

All this charitably directed wealth could do tremendous good, but in order to protect the vitality of the nonprofit sector, policy changes are needed to ensure that DAFs and private foundations distribute funds to working charities more quickly. Community foundations and other public intermediaries can play a unique role by educating newer donors about pressing issues and connecting them with community leaders. No matter how it happens, donors who claim the full tax benefits of charitable giving need to feel the urgency of actually giving that money away.

My family created our foundation as a way for us to work together to professionally give money away. We have grown closer by building working relationships with community leaders and investing in transformational ideas. But the most important and fulfilling part of my job is very simple: making sure we meet our annual giving budget with fidelity so that the foundation's endowment is spent down by 2044. So much of our society is focused on the efficient accumulation of wealth; it is my hope that charitable giving laws encourage DAFs and private foundations to make charitable distributions that meet or exceed their endowment's long-term financial returns.

Having lived through the last year as a resident of Minneapolis, I know all too well that we face compounding social issues that cannot be left unaddressed one more day. Today's philanthropists should be helping to advance solutions to today's problems by shifting our attention and resources away from private control and toward community.

(Photo credit: Pictures of Money)

Headshot_Bill_Graves_PhilanTopicBill Graves is founding president of the John and Denise Graves Family Foundation. An earlier version of this article was published in Worth.

'Philanthropy can be just as imperialistic as government': A commentary by AJ Dahiya

October 06, 2021

Globe_Afghanistan_India_WorldMaps_via_StockSnapWhat philanthropy can learn from Afghanistan:

I recently read the report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, What We Need to Learn: Lessons from 20 Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction to try to understand how the investment of $145 billion in reconstruction dollars over two decades could be so decisively and spectacularly undone in a mere ten days. 

The section that stood out the most for me was titled "The US Government did not understand the Afghan context and therefore failed to tailor its efforts accordingly." It details how the Americans tried to superimpose Western models onto Afghan institutions, unintentionally empowering corrupt power brokers and unwittingly supporting projects that were meant to mitigate conflict but often exacerbated it. In large and small ways, this lack of cultural context extended to all they did. For example, the new schools being constructed were designed to American standards, with a heavy roof that required a crane to install, yet cranes could not be used in the mountainous terrain of much of the country. 

Reflecting on these tragic lessons in hubris, money, and power, I see so many important lessons for our own work. 

In truth, philanthropy can be just as imperialistic as governments. How often do we assume that because we have the resources, we also have the solutions? Do top-down attempts at movement building make any more sense than attempts at nation building? How do we shift our ways of thinking and doing to move from saving those in need to a focus on serving them? 

Read the full commentary by AJ Dahiya, chief vision officer of the Pollination Project.

'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.

'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.

 

 

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