February 2020

Responsive Philanthropy February 2020


Written by: Jeanné Lewis

Date: February 25, 2020

Dear Readers,

“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.”

— Frederick Douglass

Many of us are familiar with the quote “Power concedes nothing without demand…,” but just before this famous line, Douglass uttered the aforementioned words in his speech entitled “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress.”

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

In this issue of Responsive Philanthropy, we hear from 3 funders who have taken on that challenge by incorporating the Power Moves guide in their work.

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.

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.

Finally, 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.

Power is not an optional consideration for funders who want to advance equity. Economic, political and social systems navigate power regularly. These are the very systems in our society that perpetuate so many of the conditions we seek to repair with philanthropy. The authors in this issue inspire our sector to be bold enough to examine our own power and advance a more sophisticated and honest strategy for making a difference. 

Are you ready to follow their lead?

Your colleague in power-building,

Jeanné L. Lewis

Responsive Philanthropy February 2020

by Jeanné L. Lewis


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

by Amber W. Brown


Moving power to advance racial equity

by Hanh Le


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

A Q&A with Noelle Dorward of The Colorado Trust