June 2021

Responsive Philanthropy June 2021


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: June 07, 2021

Dear Reader, 

In 1976, a group of courageous nonprofit leaders decided they would attempt to hold philanthropy accountable to the needs of communities who had been marginalized in society. They made the important decision to transition from an ad hoc coalition, the Donee Group, to a permanent organization and thus birthed the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. A grant from the Rockefeller Foundation provided the initial seed money. 

In this issue of Responsive Philanthropy, we look back at the most important accomplishments of NCRP’s first 45 years and look forward to how philanthropy can be better both in the near-future and another 45 years from now. 

In “NCRP at 45: What it means to be philanthropy’s critical friend,” I reflect on NCRP’s first 45 years, from Bob Bothwell’s amazing leadership in the 20th century, to the incredible work done under Rick Cohen, to my own tenure that began in 2007. While NCRP has done research and advocacy on many different philanthropic issues during that time, what our greatest accomplishments have in common is that they have fallen into 2 important and related areas: accountability and social justice. 

Daniel Lee, NCRP’s board vice-chair who recently stepped down after 13 outstanding years leading Levi Strauss Foundation, discusses the lessons the foundation – and its parent company – learned from working directly with grassroots leaders in “Working with grassroots leaders has changed our foundation (and business) for the better.” 

Lee writes, “We believe this work reflects the new reality that business and politics are intertwined – and that companies and their foundations have a critical role to play in defending our democracy and in shaping the future.” 

Lee is not the only philanthropy leader using NCRP’s anniversary to look into the future. We asked 7 visionary leaders from across the sector to answer the question “What should philanthropy look like 45 years from now?” They gave us a variety of answers, with some seeing a future where philanthropy has more power to do good, and others seeing a future where philanthropy plays a much smaller role. 

In its 45 years, NCRP has benefitted from incredible leadership on its board. We asked each of our 7 previous board chairs to tell us which accomplishments they think are NCRP’s most important. Read what they have to say in “‘Disruption is my jam’: 7 Former board chairs discuss NCRP’s greatest accomplishments.” 

We hope you enjoy this issue of Responsive Philanthropy. Do you have a favorite NCRP accomplishment or an idea for how philanthropy should look in the future? Email us at and let us know! 

Best regards, 

Aaron Dorfman 

NCRP at 45: What it means to be philanthropy's critical friend

by Aaron Dorfman


Working with grassroots leaders has changed our foundation (and business) for the better

By Daniel Lee


What should philanthropy look like 45 years from now?

By Dimple Abichandani, David Callahan, Jara Dean-Coffey, Vu Le, Amoretta Morris, Dr. Carmen Rojas and Edgar Villanueva


'Disruption is my jam’: 7 Former board chairs discuss NCRP’s greatest accomplishments

By Paul Castro, John Echohawk, Pablo Eisenberg, Diane Feeney, David R. Jones, Terry Odendahl and Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury