What we take into the new year

Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: December 22, 2020

There is no doubt that this has been a uniquely challenging year for everyone across all sectors and professions, in ways we couldn’t even have fathomed as the year began. 

At NCRP, our work to achieve long-term change and support for under-resourced Black, Indigenous and people of color communities took on new significance this past year, as poverty, health disparities and institutional racism were just some of the long-standing fissures that deeply impacted lives in deadly and unavoidable ways.

Certainly, none of this work would have been remotely possible without the incredible work of our NCRP staff. Like so many people around the nation, they managed to do amazing things amid a pandemic and, in some cases, significant disruptions to their personal lives.  

It is because of their tireless work with our allies and partners that we are privileged enough to be able to enter 2021 with some ambitious plans for holding ourselves and the sector accountable to equitable systemic change.  

From the 2020 Interactive Dashoard: Number of States that Meet or Exeed 1% Demographic Standard of the Report

In 2020, NCRP released an online dashboard of grantmakers that provide the most and least funding for groups serving or led by immigrants and refugees in each state.

What we accomplished in 2020 

Before stepping into the new year, it’s important to take a step back and acknowledge some of the important successes that our collaborations achieved over the past twelve months. Some of those highlights include: 

  • Rapidly Pushing for an Equitable Response to COVID-19: We, along with many of our partner philanthropy serving organizations (PSOs), encouraged increased giving with a focus on equity in response to the pandemic and the lack of racial justice in America. Many foundations responded incredibly well. (See here and here.) 
  • Galvanizing Better Support to Movements: We helped foundations and high-net-worth donors improve how they support movements. Our Movement Investment Project seeks to inform, influence and expand the number of movement funders. In 2020, we focused on the Pro-Immigrant and Refugee Movement, conducting intensive engagement with national and regional PSOs and funders. We also engaged deeply with the movement groups, bringing their voices and experiences into the campaign. In May, we released a new online dashboard that allows users to see which grantmakers in their states provide the most (or the least) funding for groups serving and/or led by immigrants and refugees. 
  • Deeping the Conversation Around Power: We helped hundreds of foundations and donors think critically about how they build, share and wield power. Power Moves (NCRP’s foundation assessment toolkit) continues to be popular, with several foundations publicly releasing the results of their assessments. We also made numerous presentations on the toolkit, which can be found on our events calendar

All of this important work was made possible because of the leadership, vision and trust of our board, the collaboration of our many partners and allies, and with the support of our funders.  

Big plans for 2021 

As we enter our 45th year of existence, NCRP is more committed than ever to playing our role as the sector’s only independent watchdog and its longest serving critical friend. As a result, expect us to:  

  • Expand the Movement Investment Project. We are adding a focus on reproductive access and gendered violence,which will culminate in projects and reports that aim to help movements galvanize funding and intersectionally reframe the public discourse about these issues. Work on the pro-immigrant and refugee movement will continue, as will our work to be responsive to movements in the moment, including the Movement for Black Lives.  
  • Continue to engage the sector with our Power Moves toolkit. We have several presentations planned, and we’ll continue to facilitate peer learning and one-on-one interactions among select foundations to advance their use of the toolkit to change practice. 
  • Honor the sector’s best with the NCRP Impact Awards. Next fall, we’re looking forward to celebrating bold, cutting-edge philanthropy that makes our nation more fair and just. Stay tuned to find out more about this initiative, which will be held at the CHANGE Philanthropy Unity Summit in Minneapolis. 

For 4 decades, we have prided ourselves at producing and presenting credible, evidence-based research that holds a mirror to what philanthropy is doing right and what it needs to correct to do better. However, if there is anything that 2020 has reminded us, it’s that the world depends on us to do more than just present data, stories and solutions. It demands that we move past applauding our intentions and actively using all these tools, without hesitation, to act. 

Philanthropy is filled with a lot of people who want to do good, even if they don’t quite know how to do it. We look forward in 2021 to building on the current spotlight to do good and pushing each other to double down on the investments that need to be made in social, economic and environmental justice.

To continue redefining public safety beyond law enforcement so that we can abolish the various forms of fear and violence that limit not just dreams and potential — but also lives.   

To creating and continuing partnerships that boldly seize on the urgency of now to actively bend the moral arc of our sector toward equitable justice — and love. 

Aaron Dorfman is president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.