685 posts categorized "Nonprofits"

Review: 'Resilience That Works'

August 17, 2022

Book_cover_resilience-that-works_2Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A longtime nonprofit manager who’s spent her entire career steeped in the inner workings of the sector becomes the head of an organization. She works tirelessly, rarely takes a vacation, successfully steers it through a difficult financial period, seemingly by force of will, and no one ever doubts that she has the organization’s best interests in mind. But within five years, she steps down and never leads another organization.

Was she not the right fit for that particular organization? Was it burnout?

I suspect that if she’d had a chance to read Resilience That Works: Eight Practices for Leadership and Life, by Marian N. Ruderman, Cathleen Clerkin, and Katya C. Fernandez, such a leader might have had a better experience and a more enduring tenure.

Written as the coronavirus began to spread around the world and published by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), where the authors were working at the time (Clerkin is now senior director of insights at Candid, and Fernandez is at Stanford University), the book aims to help nonprofit leaders examine their work and their approaches to work and guide them to be better able to sustain their energies....

Read the full book review by Matt Sinclair, editor of Philanthropy News Digest.

Learning from trust-based philanthropy and participatory grantmaking: A commentary by Kim Moore Bailey and Laura Rodriguez

August 15, 2022

Women_high_fives_GettyImagesIn 2021, Justice Outside’s Rising Leaders Fellowship program brought together 20 early-career nonprofit professionals, most of them Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), to get hands-on experience with philanthropy. Fellows had the opportunity to design a $40,000 grantmaking program and decide to whom they would award grants and how they would distribute those funds across the selected grantees. They were invited to examine all the “rules” they knew about philanthropy.

Funded by the Environmental Education Funders Collaborative (EEFC), a network for Bay Area funders, the Rising Leaders Fellowship offered an opportunity for young people—who are often on the receiving end of grants—to reimagine and have agency in grantmaking. Supported by Justice Outside, they discussed wealth disparities generated by capitalism and white supremacy culture; and how trust-based philanthropy and participatory grantmaking can be antidotes to inequities in philanthropy.

What’s more important than what they learned, however, is what they can teach us....

Read the full commentary by Kim Moore Bailey and Laura Rodriguez, president and CEO and chief program officer, respectively, of Justice Outside.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Sustaining progressive change through community-based participatory research: A commentary by Sarah Bobrow-Williams

August 12, 2022

Doctor_woman_patient_GettyImages_croppedHow many of us have spent countless days producing exacting research reports informing the most salient social issues today—only to find a box of undistributed reports in the office storage closet a year later? Even the most impactful research aimed at influencing public policy makers and other targeted audiences has a short shelf-life. By contrast, participatory action research (PAR), also known as community-based participatory research, can make a far greater, longer-term impact—especially when the intended audience for the research includes communities that are the most marginalized and affected by the issues being studied.

Many marginalized communities have long and often sensitive histories of being “researched”—being the object of the research, while the job of identifying, defining, and assessing the issues is left to outside “experts.” Regrettably, excluding instead of centering the expertise of community members who are directly impacted by the issues not only leaves them feeling used but is a missed opportunity to catalyze and sustain progressive community change on many levels.

Those of us who have worked alongside communities have witnessed the consternation and dispiritedness felt by individuals when they are placed under the microscope without being given the opportunity to define challenges as they experience them. This omission also precludes the synergy and devotion that is often generated by problem solving from multiple perspectives. Conversely, community-based participatory research offers a collective, dialogic process for expression, reflection, perspective taking, and information sharing, and, ultimately, creative solution-based action among stakeholders. This process helps form a nexus of dynamic connections and relationships that can lead to sustained change over the long term....

Read the full commentary by Sarah Bobrow-Williams, a community-based participatory research consultant for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI).

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Review: 'Choose Abundance'

August 10, 2022

Book cover_Choose AbandanceIn his 1989 best-seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey coined the terms “abundance mindset,” the belief in a benevolent world rich in resources, and “scarcity mindset,” the belief in a competitive world lacking in resources. Three decades on, most of us are still struggling to choose abundance over a scarcity mindset. Every day, we’re besieged with messages from a consumer culture that encourages the desire for new things and manifests the fear of not having enough. As Lynne Twist notes in her book, The Soul of Money, which Laurie Herrick considers required reading: “This mantra of not enough carries the day and becomes a kind of default setting for our thinking about everything, from the cash in our pocket to the people we love or the value of our own lives.” In this environment, can a nonprofit organization made up of complicated individuals choose abundance? Yes! In her book Choose Abundance: Powerful Fundraising for Nonprofits — A Culture of Philanthropy, Herrick, founder and president of Rainmaker Consulting, reveals step by step how nonprofit staff and their organizations can choose abundance by building a “culture of philanthropy” and reframing their attitudes toward fundraising.

What is a “culture of philanthropy”? After stating her preferred gender-neutral definition of philanthropy, “love of humankind,” Herrick explains, “A Culture of Philanthropy exists when organization-wide attitudes, actions and systems reflect an understanding, respect and responsibility for philanthropy’s role in the success of the organization.” In this culture, all stakeholders within the organization and in the larger community are engaged and active in advancing the cause through their individual strengths. Everyone has something to offer, whether financial assets, time, wisdom, experience, connections, or special skills. A culture based on deep relationships and a common goal opens the door to infinite possibilities....

Read the full book review by Kati Neiheisel, senior liaison at Candid.

'Resiliency care' for unhoused people: A commentary by Kris Kepler

August 08, 2022

Homelessness_seattle_credit_Phil_Augustavo_GettyImages-533775261When we first met Kevin, he was living in a shelter, having struggled earlier in life, he says, with “poor decisions, procrastination, and self-loathing.” He came to the LavaMaeX’s site in Gladys Park, in the heart of Skid Row, once or twice a week to take a shower or spend time talking to our staff. This spring he finished his junior year at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Kevin was able to turn his life around with the help of numerous nonprofits, including LavaMaeX, which provides mobile showers and other essential care services for unhoused people and teaches organizations around the world to do the same. “LavaMaex helped me get clean when I was dirty, both inside and out,” he says. “They offered welcoming faces and clean, amazing showers when the local shelters could not consistently do so.”

Our services and Radical Hospitality approach—meeting people wherever they are with extraordinary care—gave Kevin the dignity and hope he needed to heal, find work, and return to school. His story is a perfect example of how crucial “resiliency care” delivered through ongoing relationships can be for unhoused people. There is no grantmaking category for this—we don’t see any funders focused on what to do for people on the streets who can’t access or don’t feel served by traditional services. It’s time to rethink that—particularly now, with homelessness in the United States continuing to rise....

Read the full commentary by Kris Kepler, CEO of LavaMaeX.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Phil Augustavo)

The sustainable nonprofit: An opportunity to take stock and reset

August 05, 2022

Setback_woman_head_down_with_laptop_GettyImages_PoikeBy inspiring large numbers of people to take sustained action, leaders can turn a cause into a social movement with everyone working in concert to achieve a specific change. Cultural and societal norms do not shift easily, however, so painstaking efforts are required to move them incrementally to a place where the desired change can actually take place–in policy, legislation, behavior, etc. But what happens to a social movement’s supporters when progress seems slow or when they think all their efforts have been undone?

I’m thinking, of course, of two currently high-profile social movements–one aimed at protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, the other seeking additional measures to control guns–that some social movement leaders see as having experienced setbacks. Though I won’t debate the merits of any strategies or positions related specifically to these issues, we can keep them in mind as examples when discussing how social movement leaders should respond to inevitable setbacks....

Social movement leaders should view any setback as a prime opportunity to take stock and reset in certain areas to strengthen community....

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

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Poike)

Ensuring equitable access to mental health care in communities of color: A commentary by Daniel H. Gillison, Jr.

August 03, 2022

Youth_mental_health_FatCamera_GettyImages-1317882681All people deserve equitable access to quality and comprehensive mental health care. But unfortunately, some of the populations most in need of such care have historically been, and continue to be, the most underserved.

According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the U.S. are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress such as sadness, hopelessness, and feeling like everything is an effort. And according to one survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Latinx adults reported significantly higher rates of depression during the pandemic compared with other populations. Yet in 2020, only one in three Black adults with mental health conditions received treatment. And only 10 percent of Latinx people with a psychological disorder contacted a mental health specialist.

We at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have been reflecting on these disparities during July in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, named after a pioneering mother who strove to end stigma associated with mental illness, particularly in communities of color. But we must also commit beyond raising awareness—to taking action....

Read the full commentary by Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

(Photo credit: Getty Images/FatCamera)

Learning environments that prioritize trust building: A commentary by Cierra Kaler-Jones and Jaime T. Koppel

August 01, 2022

Female_teacher_middleschool_class_GettyImagesIn the last 20 years, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office moved more than $1 billion in grants for school policing, hardening, and militarization. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, passed quickly in the wake of the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, is another effort that advances the illusion of “school safety” by increasing funding for police in schools, threat assessments, and school hardening—despite significant evidence that surveillance technologies and police presence undermine students’ trust. According to the U.S. Department of Education, millions of students attend schools where there are police officers but no counselors, nurses, psychologists, or social workers. Further, Black and brown students, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities face the brunt of the harms of policing. Since investments in school policing have ballooned in recent years, many students and staff have never been in a school without police and policing infrastructure. This reinforces the myth that safety comes from police. Why keep investing in a strategy that’s never worked?

Philanthropy is too often complicit in these efforts. As a sector, we overwhelmingly invest in tidy policy wins that seem attainable within a grant cycle or two. We privilege groups with larger budgets, typically because we believe they have the greatest likelihood of “winning”....

Read the full commentary by Jaime T. Koppel and Cierra Kaler-Jones, co-director and director of storytelling at Communities for Just Schools Fund.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Advancing racial and social justice is a core responsibility for Christians: A commentary by Emily Jones

July 29, 2022

Black_womens_lives_matter_max-bender_unsplashAs the executive for racial justice for United Women in Faith, I think regularly about how to inspire our hundreds of thousands of members to make the world a more just and equitable place. United Women in Faith is committed to putting faith, hope, and love into action to improve the lives of women, children, and youth. There is no shortage of work for our members to do. There is no shortage of issues competing for our time and attention. But we have decided to focus on pushing back against the criminalization of communities of color—especially children of color. Every year, we work hard to inspire our members to do their part to disrupt the “school-to-prison pipeline.” We do this by aligning with and supporting the campaigns of groups such as Dignity in Schools and others who have been doing this work far longer than us. We also support our members to engage in advocacy work at the local, state, and federal levels.

We believe that advancing racial and social justice is a core responsibility for Christians. It is not enough to be engaged in our churches if we are not also working to dismantle systems of oppression in our communities. United Women in Faith’s board of directors recently voted to grant $500,000 in funding to mission-aligned groups led by Indigenous and Black women: $250,000 to Brittany K. Barnett’s Girls Embracing Mothers and $250,000 to Tia Oros Peters’ Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples. Girls Embracing Mothers helps girls with incarcerated mothers to fulfill their unique calling and break the cycle of incarceration. The Seventh Generation Fund is the oldest organization of its kind and is dedicated to Indigenous peoples’ self-determination and Native nations’ sovereignty....

Read the full commentary by Emily Jones, executive for racial justice for United Women in Faith.

(Photo credit: max bender via unsplash)

Review: 'Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State'

July 27, 2022

Book_cover_Nonprofit NeighborhoodsIn 2014, when Massachusetts launched its “pay for success” social impact bond program—in which private investors would front the funding for nonprofit efforts to address a social issue—it was hailed as an innovative, data-driven public-private partnership that would deliver demonstrated results and cost savings. Yet, as Claire Dunning illustrates in Nonprofit Neighborhoods: An Urban History of Inequality and the American State, it was just the latest chapter in a long history of public-private initiatives that so far have not fulfilled their promise.

An assistant professor of public policy and history at the University of Maryland, College Park, Dunning defines “nonprofit neighborhoods” as “places where neighborhood-based nonprofit organizations controlled access to the levers of political, economic, and social power and mediated the local manifestations of the state and market.” While that definition might suggest the nonprofits have power, Nonprofit Neighborhoods illuminates how, through government and public-private grantmaking, nonprofits in Boston’s low-income and minority neighborhoods came to provide the services that government should have provided and, even more disturbingly, how that funding mechanism was used to appease, manage, and control grassroots movements for policy reform and inclusion....

Read the full book review by Kyoko Uchida, features editor at Philanthropy News Digest.

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

Review: 'The Sustainable High ROI Fundraising System'

July 20, 2022

Book_cover_The_Sustainable_High_ROIThe concept of fundraising should be a simple and self-explanatory one. It’s right in the name: As a fundraiser, your job is to raise funds. But, as Joanne Oppelt points out in her book, The Sustainable High ROI Fundraising Systemthere’s more than one way to crack an egg, and not all fundraising methods will yield the same return. Fundraising isn’t a one-size-fits-all process; different methods will work better for organizations of different sizes, longevity, and mission focuses. What Oppelt seeks to do, both in this book and in her career as a development consultant, is to create a system that accounts for all these potential differences and enable nonprofit executives fundraise at maximum efficiency.

What makes Oppelt qualified to create such a system? To start, she’s been working in the nonprofit sector for more than three decades. In her current work as a consultant, she “help[s] deeply mission-focused nonprofits build sustainable revenue systems.” She works toward a world where philanthropic organizations of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds have the tools and infrastructure they need to survive and thrive, no matter what financial stressors are thrown at them.

This book represents the culmination of all those years of experience. In an effort to make her strategy accessible to all, Oppelt outlines the steps she takes when working with nonprofits—in under 200 pages....

Read the full book review by Audrey Silverman, a fundraising professional working in the Jewish nonprofit sector.

Racial justice at the forefront of impact investing: A commentary by Ian Fuller

July 15, 2022

Young woman_megaphone_protest_social_justice_GettyImages_LeoPatriziFollowing the racial reckoning of 2020, billions in corporate and individual donations to Black-serving and Black-led organizations changed the landscape of investment advising. If investment advisory firms are to keep up with this trend, they must adopt a community-centered, racial justice approach to business.

In response to calls for racial justice in the wake of the murders of countless Black Americans following brutal interactions with law enforcement, $50 billion in corporate and individual donations poured into Black-led or Black-serving nonprofits, civil rights groups, and historically Black colleges and universities. This disbursement of billions is creating one of the largest windfall events for beneficiaries directly impacting and serving Black communities in our country’s history. Many of these institutions have never received donations of this size, or scale, at one time.

Since 2020, Westfuller, a Black-majority, woman- and LGBTQ-owned investment advisory firm I co-founded, has seen eight times as many nonprofit clients experience windfall events from wealthy donors. We saw this with billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott publicly donating more than $12 billion as of March 2022. In working with these organizations to manage their expanded financial portfolios, we’ve learned that for investment advisory firms to have an impact in this new landscape, it is essential to adopt a community-centered approach—concentrating on community economic development, revitalization, growth, and sustainability—with racial justice at the forefront of impact investing. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity....

Read the full commentary by Ian Fuller, a co-founder and partner of Westfuller, a Black-majority, woman- and LGBTQ-owned investment advisory firm.

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Leo Patrizi)

Creating visibility and encouraging women to step into their power as philanthropists: An interview with Jeannie Infante Sager and Jacqueline Ackerman

July 11, 2022

Sanger_ackerman_WPI_philantopicJeannie Infante Sager is the director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which works to “conduct, curate, and disseminate research that grows women’s philanthropy.” A member of the executive leadership team and an associate professor at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, she teaches in the Fund Raising School.

Jacqueline Ackerman is associate director of WPI, where she manages all aspects of the institute’s research, which is primarily supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In a joint interview, Infante Sager and Ackerman discussed their work to increase the visibility of women’s philanthropy, especially that of Black women; research findings about women’s motivations for giving and their implications; trends in giving led by high-profile women philanthropists such as Laurene Powell Jobs, MacKenzie Scott, Melinda French Gates, and Sheryl Sandberg; and prospects for “rage giving” and “feminist philanthropy.”

Philanthropy News Digest: Although women’s philanthropy dates back at least to the 19th century, philanthropy is often viewed as a paternalistic endeavor or one structured around couples. How has WPI worked to increase the visibility of women’s philanthropy as independent ventures, and in what ways has it been transformative for the sector?

Jeannie Infante Sager: Great question. It’s why we exist, right? We’ve known, and history has shown, that women have always been generous, and WPI has an opportunity to create visibility and encourage women to step into their power as philanthropists. We’re the only academic institute dedicated to furthering the understanding of gender in philanthropy—through research, education, and knowledge dissemination. Over the 30 years since WPI’s inception, we’ve put out several annual reports; our signature annual report is the Women Give report. The bulk of our research looks at women as donors, but we’ve recently started to do research around women and girls as recipients of philanthropy. Five years ago we created the Women and Girls Index, which allows us to track giving to women’s and girls’ organizations in the United States.

What’s really nice about being an institute is the opportunity to look closely at, and create opportunities around, “research to practice.” We host regular events and symposia to further share the findings, looking at the data and the research and how it informs women’s philanthropy—either increasing it or allowing women to become more confident about the way they give. We’ve seen a real growing interest beyond just our traditional philanthropic circles—certainly beyond just our researchers in the field—and among the press and others. Our research serves to help foundations, nonprofits, and fundraising professionals better understand and connect with donors on causes that are meaningful to them. The research also helps not only grow women’s philanthropy, but ultimately grow giving by all. So if we can encourage the sector and the industry to meet donors where they are, whether they are men or women, then we really have an opportunity to lift more boats.

PND: You’ve written of MacKenzie Scott, whose philanthropic giving to date totals more than $12 billion, that “[w]ith 60% of her gifts supporting women-led organizations, this is a transformational moment for the visibility of women’s roles in philanthropy and is redefining what it means to give.” A 2016 report from WPI found that women were more likely to support women’s and girls’ causes, so what is fundamentally different about Scott’s giving to women-led organizations?

Jacqueline Ackerman: MacKenzie Scott’s giving is in line with broader research, both by WPI and by others, about high-net-worth women donors. She learned philanthropy young; and holds the belief that wealth comes with responsibility. She is very active in educating herself about causes and ways to give, as well as investing in systems-level change. She uses empathy to guide her giving, and takes risks in her giving by taking a trust-based philanthropy approach with organizations—giving with very few, if any, strings attached. What is transformational there is the scale and the speed of her giving. She’s driving increased attention to herself as a powerful woman donor—but in her writing, explains how she prefers attention be directed to the recipients of her philanthropy. This helps drive attention to the organizations and causes that she supports.

We also know from WPI research that both women and men give more to women’s and girls’ causes when they see other women donors doing the same. So our anticipation is that the awareness MacKenzie Scott is bringing, especially to women’s and girls’ causes, can encourage future philanthropists, both women and men, to adopt a similar approach. Trust-based philanthropy is a huge piece of her giving, and we haven’t seen it at this scale. So our hope and anticipation is that she’s setting an example for her fellow donors....

Read the full interview with Jeannie Infante Sager and Jacqueline Ackerman, director and associate director, respectively, of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

 

The sustainable nonprofit: Writing a grant proposal for community members

July 08, 2022

Diverse_women_GettyImagesDid you know that today, more grantmakers are bringing in local community members to review proposals with the aim of making the grant review process more equitable and inclusive? A 2021 study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy noted that in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 94 percent of funders simplified applications and reporting requirements and provided unrestricted and multiyear grants. And 75 percent maintained those changes in 2021. As trust-based philanthropy takes root, the process will not only become more streamlined  but also emphasize “listening to the community.”

Here are some tips for writing a grant proposal for a diverse, community-based audience—in other words, how to write a proposal for readers who may know nothing about your organization or project. The answer is in the six Cs of communication–clarity, cohesiveness, completeness, conciseness, concreteness, and context....

Read the full column article by Allison Shirk, a grantwriting professor at Western Washington University and Seattle Central College and founder of Spark the Fire Grantwriting Classes 

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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