3 Reasons why grantmakers don’t face power head on

Lisa Ranghelli, NCRP’s senior director of assessment and special projects, also looks at ways that grantmakers can overcome these barriers to leveraging power ethically and responsibility for equity and justice.

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

Date: October 31, 2018

In philanthropy, power shows up in many ways, from the board room to conversations with grant partners and community members. Yet, many funders don’t acknowledge the reality of power. Why? And why does it matter?

In “How Grantmakers Can Use Power Mindfully to Advance Equity,” Lisa Ranghelli, senior director of foundation assessment and special projects at NCRP, identifies the 3 most comment reasons why funders don’t directly wrestle with power as: Insufficient institutional buy-in; ongoing or pending diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; and fear of taking risks.

She notes why it’s important for funders to leverage their power – instead of run away from it – to advancing equity and justice.

We all engage in power dynamics all the time, whether or not we are aware or acknowledge it. We may unconsciously enable power for some and disable power for others, causing harm or missing opportunities to use power for good. It’s time for us to meditate on power so that we can be more conscious about how each of us manifests it – to notice who benefits and toward what end. In doing so, the obstacles to using it effectively will become surmountable and inspire mindful action.”

Lisa Ranghelli– Lisa Ranghelli
How Grantmakers Can Use Power Mindfully to Advance Equity

How Grantmakers Can Use Power Mindfully to Advance Equityis part of the new Power in Philanthropy series on the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) blog in collaboration with NCRP.

Contributors from NCRP and nonprofit and philanthropic leaders explore popular concepts in philanthropy – such as risk, capacity building and public leadership – through the lens of power and equitable outcomes.

Power in Philanthropy is based on NCRP’s “Power Moves: Your essential philanthropy assessment guide for equity and justice.”

Related articles:

Power, Privilege, and Effectiveness: Are Funders Connecting the Dots?
by Kathleen Enright, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

The Power of Families: From Poverty to Agency to Unity
by Luz Vega-Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation

Philanthropy’s Ultimate Power-Sharing Opportunity: Governance
by Jim Canales and Barbara Hostetter, Barr Foundation

Philanthropic Leadership Means Following the Frontlines
by Alison Corwin, Surdna Foundation

Wielding Philanthropic Leadership With, Not For
by Grant Oliphant, The Heinz Endowments

Family foundations benefit from diverse boards
by Ruth Cummings and Sharon Alpert, Nathan Cummings Foundation

How can grantmakers be accountable when they have little oversight?
by Judy Belk, The California Wellness Foundation

What shifting power in philanthropy looks like from a community’s perspective
by Linda S. Campbell, Building Project Movement

Visit Power in Philanthropy on SSIR 

Yna C. Moore is senior director of communications of NCRP. Follow @ynamoore and @ncrp on Twitter. Join the conversation on #PowerMovesEquity.