November 2020

Responsive Philanthropy November 2020


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: November 10, 2020

Dear Reader,

Leadership matters, especially in challenging times.

I am feeling deep gratitude for the nonprofits (501c3 and 501c4) that played such an incredibly important role this year protecting democracy. Their work was absolutely pivotal.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected president and vice president of the U.S. Control of the Senate won’t be decided until the January runoff elections in Georgia. While the full implications of the election remain uncertain, one thing is crystal clear: Philanthropic funding for movements will be needed more than ever in 2021. Sustained grassroots organizing is essential if we hope to make progress on the pressing issues facing our nation and the world.

In this issue of Responsive Philanthropy, we explore courageous leadership and damaging failures of leadership at some of the nation’s largest philanthropies.

Our lead story is about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and allegations of racial discrimination toward Black staff. In “Performative philanthropy and the cost of silence,” Ray Holgado, a former CZI employee who this week filed a discrimination claim against the philanthropy with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, offers a blistering critique and suggestions for how the field can move forward. 

The NoVo Foundation’s decision earlier this year to eliminate its gendered violence program is an egregious example of philanthropy abandoning Black women and girls. In “Filling in NoVo’s void,” Brandi Collins-Calhoun, NCRP’s senior movement engagement associate, shares a deeply personal account of how this decision is impacting Black women in philanthropy and social justice movements. She also challenges other donors to step up and urges NoVo to execute a responsible exit – something the foundation has committed to in general terms without offering any specifics thus far.

The above examples notwithstanding, it has not been all bad news for philanthropic leadership in 2020. In fact, many high net worth donors and foundations have been leading in phenomenal ways. My contribution to this issue lays out some shining examples of how “Donors and foundations are increasingly supporting movements.”

We hope you enjoy this issue of Responsive Philanthropy. Comments are always welcome at

Best regards,

Aaron Dorfman

Responsive Philanthropy November 2020

by Aaron Dorfman


Performative philanthropy and the cost of silence

by Ray Holgado


Filling in NoVo’s void

by Brandi Collins-Calhoun


Donors and foundations are increasingly supporting movements

by Aaron Dorfman