Did philanthropy do enough?

Written by: Kristina ("Yna") C. Moore

Date: May 12, 2017

Will history look favorably at philanthropy’s efforts to protect and promote equity during the Trump Administration?

Attendees of the Northern California Grantmakers Association’s annual conference were treated to a rousing debate over this very question. The panelists were a group of inspiring and passionate leaders from the sector: Cathy Cha of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Jacqueline Martinez Garcel of Latino Community Foundation, Lateefah Simon of Akonadi Foundation and NCRP’s Aaron Dorfman.

The verdict from the nearly 400-person audience was a resounding “No.”

If you missed it or would like to relive the experience, NCG recently posted a video of The Great Debate on its website.

Many commentators, including NCRP and various authors we’ve featured on this blog and our journal, have penned articles about what the foundations and the whole sector should do in this current moment.

And indeed, Aaron and Cathy shared during the debate how a number of foundations have stepped up in their leadership and commitment to vulnerable communities. But, as Jacqueline and Lateefah highlighted, there are many ways that the sector is still falling short of its potential for impact.

A time for soul-searching

In The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Cathy, Jacqueline, Lateefah and Aaron invited foundation leaders to look inward and ask themselves: Is my foundation responding appropriately? Is it doing enough? How can we challenge ourselves to do more?

They offer five guiding questions, among them:

  • Are we dedicating serious money so grantees have the resources they truly need?
  • Are we investing in building the power of people of color and women?
  • Are we moving money quickly?

And NCRP’s Jenny Choi encouraged grantmakers to be “bold, thoughtful and inclusive” in a Center for Effective Philanthropy blog post.

What do you think?

I hope you’ll check out these thoughtful resources and share with us your own ideas for what effective, high-impact philanthropy looks like in these times.

Yna C. Moore is senior director of communications at NCRP. Follow @ynamoore and @NCRP on Twitter.