September 2018

Responsive Philanthropy September 2018


Written by: Aaron Dorfman

Date: September 24, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

The mid-term elections are just a few weeks away. Our strength as Americans comes from our ability to work together. With so many nonprofits and foundations knitting together a landscape of people from different places and of different races into a whole, I am hopeful for our future.

We cannot let the greedy few and the politicians they finance divide us against each other based on what someone looks like, where they come from or how much money they have. It’s time to stand up for each other and come together. It is time for us to vote for leaders who see all of us as equal, whether we are white, Black or brown, who respect all of our families, and who will govern for all of us.

Thank you to all of the nonprofits working this fall to advance these values and this vision, and to the foundations and other donors who help support their efforts.

This edition of Responsive Philanthropy invites us to reflect deeply on our work and then take action that is grounded in the communities that matter to us and the future that’s at stake.

In The gentrification of movements: 4 Ways funders can stop putting raisins in the potato salad,” Vanessa Daniel of Groundswell Fund observes how grassroots strategies that have been used for decades by people of color-led organizations have gained the attention of funders. Yet it is well-funded, white-led organizations appropriating the strategies as their own that are reaping the benefits. “Aside from being ineffective in moving the needle on social change generally, this funding approach only reinforces white supremacy,” writes Daniel.

For many family foundations, taking the big step towards diversity, equity and inclusion is daunting. Cynthia Addams and Colin Jones of The Collins Foundation share the foundation’s growth and evolution in In pursuit of equity: A family foundation’s story.” Opening the board to non-family members has been an integral part of their efforts.

BoardSource’s Anne Wallestad and I identify four important questions on CEO oversight that boards need to ask themselves to protect their organizations in Reflections in the wake of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.”  We write, “The board’s role in CEO oversight is not a straightforward or easy role to play, but it is an absolutely critical one.”

Define American’s Rev. Ryan Eller urges funders to get behind efforts to shift people’s perceptions of immigrants in “Change culture and attitude to get it right on immigration reform.” Eller observes that the focus on policy change hasn’t been effective and may lead to more harm: “While our movement is investing in ballot measures and bills, the anti-immigrant movement is investing in a cultural narrative that has successfully convinced the public that immigrants are our enemy and ought to be feared.”

Finally, our Member Spotlight features NCRP member LA Voice, a multi-racial, multi-faith community organization that believes all people have a voice and the power to transform their communities and the country.

I thank you for being a part of NCRP’s community. Tell us how we’re doing and what stories you’d like us to cover. Email


Aaron Dorfman
President and CEO

PS: Are you a funder interested in moving the needle on equity and justice? Discover how NCRP’s Power Moves self-assessment guide can help you towards true and lasting positive impact.

The gentrification of movements: 4 Ways funders can stop putting raisins in the potato salad

by Vanessa Daniel


In pursuit of equity: A family foundation's story

by Cynthia Addams


Reflections in the wake of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation: 4 Questions for nonprofit and foundation boards to protect their organizations

by Anne Wallestad and Aaron Dorfman


Change culture and attitudes to get it right on immigration reform

by Rev. Ryan M. Eller



LA Voice


Responsive Philanthropy September 2018

by Aaron Dorfman