Winter 2012-13

Responsive Philanthropy Winter 2012-13


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: January 22, 2013

Message from the Executive Director

The second half of 2012 was extremely challenging for me emotionally as several people close to me passed away. While each death was tragic and affected me differently, each also reminded me of how precious a gift life is, and that we must make the most of each day we are alive. In my contribution to this issue of Responsive Philanthropy, I make a case for why our philanthropic sector would benefit from a greater sense of urgency. My piece is titled “What America Needs Now from Foundations.”

In “Supporting Litigation and Legal Advocacy: The Lessons of Citizens United,” John F. Kowal looks at the strategies adopted by the conservative movement to achieve significant changes to the legal system, moving the courts to the right. How did they do this? And what are the lessons for philanthropy as it seeks to support efforts to overturn and mitigate the fallout from Citizens United?

Peter Pennekamp and Anne Focke write about “community democracy” as an approach to supporting public policy and social change. In “Challenge and Hope: Philanthropy and Community Democracy,” they provide concrete actionable insights that can help foundations achieve better results from their grants.

During the past year, mission investing has gained traction in the philanthropic community. In “Boosting Philanthropic Impact Through Mission Investments,” Tracy Kartye shares the story of The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s history and experience with mission investing to demonstrate that it can be an effective tool for foundations to leverage resources in support of their missions.

Finally, check out this issue’s Member Spotlight, which features the Bauman Foundation, a D.C.-based grantmaker that funds nonprofit advocacy for systemic change.

We envision Responsive Philanthropy to be an important resource on important issues affecting our sector today. And we can’t do it without your help. Send us a note at to tell us how we’re doing, share story ideas and make suggestions for improvement.

Thank you for your continued support of NCRP.


Aaron Dorfman