“How do we respond to our new political and social reality?” Many in philanthropy are grappling with this question at this very moment.
Some foundations have taken bold steps in providing much-needed funding to groups working on the ground to mobilize and organize communities against harmful policies. More are either still trying to figure out what to do or are opting to take a wait-and-see approach. But there is an urgency for grantmakers to get involved.
“Time and again in our nation’s history, philanthropy has demonstrated its power and potential to help solve urgent problems and ensure that this country lives up to its democratic ideals,” writes Aaron Dorfman, president of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), for the group’s journal “Responsive Philanthropy.” “Now could be another of those times.”
The spring edition of “Responsive Philanthropy” highlights some of the different ways that funders can make a difference in communities and issues they care about.
Josh Stearns, an associate director at Democracy Fund, writes about the prevalence of misinformation and why it’s important for our country to reclaim “truth” and regain trust in our democratic institutions, including the press. He shares some of the innovative trust-building efforts underway and how grantmakers can support them.
Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers chief executive David Biemesderfer highlights the various leadership roles of associations, affinity groups and other philanthropic networks. For example, he writes that these organizations can help foundations in getting more involved in policy and advocacy “while learning from experts and sharing with colleagues within a critical state and local context.”
Nonprofits across the country, especially those fighting the resistance, continue to need long-term, general support. Yet these grants are nearly as rare as the mythical Bigfoot. So NCRP asks its nonprofit members: “Why do you think funders shy away from awarding flexible, multi-year grants?” And how would they respond to these concerns?
Pete Manzo, chief executive of United Ways of California, believes that it is possible and important to find common ground to ensure that our communities to thrive. Philanthropy has an important role to play, he says, such as by advocating for policy changes “that can increase the odds of success for the people and communities we serve.”
There’s a need for more philanthropic investments in the South. Bill Bynum, a board member of NCRP, shares lessons for foundations based on his experience leading HOPE, a Mississippi-based community development credit union serving families and businesses in the region.
EPI, based in Washington, D.C., aims to “inform and empower individuals to seek solutions that ensure broadly shared prosperity and opportunity.” Members of its Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN) in 43 states produce research and conduct policy advocacy at state and local levels to improve the economic security of low- and middle-income working people.
Responsive Philanthropy articles are available at no cost on NCRP’s website. NCRP members receive hard copies for free.
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