February 2019

Responsive Philanthropy February 2019


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: February 12, 2019

Dear Readers,

I’ve been on the road early in 2019 meeting with NCRP members and allies all over the country, and I look forward to connecting with many more of you in the next few months.

One thing has struck me from my conversations: There are many in philanthropy who are absolutely committed to ensuring that foundations and wealthy donors do everything in their power to defend democracy and build a more just society. Their passion and courage give me hope.

This edition of Responsive Philanthropy features learnings and reflections from our colleagues to serve as inspiration for ways that we in philanthropy can be more responsive, effective and impactful in these challenging times.

In “Philanthropy: Perilous times call for bold measures,” Tory Gavito, president and CEO of Way to Win, urges grantmakers to take risks and transform its practices. She offers 3 specific recommendations: increase the size of grantmaking, break silos and support local efforts.

For Farhad Ebrahimi, president of Chorus Foundation, exploring the relationship between political, economic and cultural power was transformative for his foundation. In “How to think about power (especially if you have some),” he shares how understanding this ecosystem of power is informing the foundation’s holistic approach to climate justice philanthropy.

In “Lessons for foundations on rapid-response support at the front lines of democracy,” Shireen Zaman and Melissa Spatz, program directors at Proteus Fund, share 5 tips to make rapid response support effective. They invite other grantmakers to join their efforts to ensure that community-led organizations have the resources they need “as they lead the fight for our democracy.”

And in “What does Amazon’s HQ2 tax-grab mean for U.S. cities?” Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, and Ryan Schlegel, research director of NCRP, identify 4 concrete ways that funders can join community-led efforts to ensure that HQ2 benefits “the 99% as much as it benefits Bezos.”

Thank you for being a part of our efforts to ensure that grantmakers and donors contribute meaningfully to a just and equitable world. Let us know how we’re doing and what stories you’d like us to cover. Email


Aaron Dorfman
President and CEO

Philanthropy: Perilous times call for bold measures

by Tory Gavito


Lessons for foundations on rapid-response support at the front lines of democracy

by Shireen Zaman and Melissa Spatz


How to think about power (especially if you have some)

by Farhad Ebrahimi


What does Amazon’s HQ2 tax-break grab mean for U.S. cities?

by Greg LeRoy and Ryan Schlegel