How Can Philanthropy Build, Share and Wield Power to Create a More Equitable World?

For Immediate Release


How Can Philanthropy Build, Share and Wield Power to Create a More Equitable World?

Special edition of NCRP’s “Responsive Philanthropy” explores how three funders are using NCRP’s Power Moves toolkit

Washington, D.C. (02/26/2020) – Many of us are familiar with the Frederick Douglass quote “Power concedes nothing without demand…” But just before that famous line, Douglass uttered the following in his speech entitled “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”:

“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground … This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle.”

Douglass calls those of us who “favor freedom” to directly engage systems of power; yet, many in philanthropy are still tentative. Concepts of equity and inclusion are more prevalent in the philanthropic sector’s rhetoric, but funders seldom take a hard look at the power they have and make courageous choices about how to build, share and wield power to achieve a more equitable world.

In the newest issue of “Responsive Philanthropy,” three funders who have taken on that challenge by incorporating the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy’s Power Moves self-assessment toolkit in their work tell their stories.

Equity isn’t a declaration, it’s a purpose that drives action

Amber W. Brown, program officer at Coastal Community Foundation in South Carolina, shares insights about how the evaluation resources in Power Moves helped to clarify “how effectively the foundation exerts power to accomplish [their] objectives.” Success hinged not only on their external engagement with stakeholders, but also with creating clarity among staff and board.

Moving power to advance racial equity

Hanh Le, executive director at Weissberg Foundation, explores how the outcome of their strategic planning process was a recognition that they needed “to be bolder in developing, naming and implementing our strategy to advance equity.” Power Moves has been a tool to help them operationalize a bold strategy in both governance and grantmaking.

Centering community power and feedback: The Colorado Trust on its new advocacy grantmaking program

Noelle Dorward, advocacy and policy partner at The Colorado Trust, shared the shifts they have made to strengthen community partnerships and support the community organizing infrastructure in their state with NCRP’s Lisa Ranghelli, Power Moves author and senior director of evaluation and learning.

Responsive Philanthropy articles are available at no cost on NCRP’s website.

About NCRP

For more than 40 years, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy has been amplifying the voice of nonprofits and the communities they serve in the philanthropic sector. Through research and advocacy, it works to ensure that grantmakers and donors contribute to the creation of a fair, just and equitable world. For more information, visit



Peter Haldis, phaldis[at] or (202) 328-9351.