Hi everyone. A couple of things before we get started on this week’s topic. First, if you’re planning to host some sort of PEEP (Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy), please fill out this form by June 10th so I can help spread the word. Second, I’ll be taking the annual summer break from this blog during all of July. And last, I mentioned in January that I’ll be removing ads from this website. Wellll….after looking at my finances, I realize that this is losing me a lot of money. I hate backtracking, but I need money to buy hummus and dark chocolate. So, the random google ads are still gone, but the display ads (the ads you see on the side of this website and not embedded into articles), are coming back starting August, after the break. Thank you for understanding. And thank you, Patreon supporters, for keeping this blog open to everyone and with fewer ads.
Over the past several years, we’ve been hearing the term “culture of philanthropy” a lot. According to the 2013 report Underdeveloped, by Haas Jr. Fund and CompassPoint, culture of philanthropy incorporates these key elements:
“Most people in the organization (across positions) act as ambassadors and engage in relationship-building. Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving. Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization. Organizational systems are established to support donors. The executive director is committed and personally involved in fundraising.”
Hi everyone. Thank you for your patience last week, as I had to skip out on a blog post for health reason. I’m feeling better, though I wish I could skip writing this post too. This is going to be a serious piece that may piss off a lot of people.
Last week, we were reeling from the Supreme Court’s leaked decision to overturn Roe vs Wade. People will die, especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asians and NH/PI, and low-income people, because safe abortions will still remain accessible to higher-income mostly white people.
This week, a white man drove 200 miles to Buffalo and murdered 10 people, most of whom were Black, citing the “Great replacement theory” espoused by many right-wing white supremacists. It is horrifying, and my heart breaks for the families of those who were murdered by this racist terrorist.
Hi everyone, this morning I woke up with a kidney stone flare up and spent almost the entire day doubled over in pain on the couch, and nearly went to urgent care. I was trying to power through to write this week’s blog post, considering how important it is to rally our sector in light of the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision to overturn Roe vs Wade, and the horrifying floodgates it would open.
But a friend, Mari Kim, reminded me that “you taking a break will give others permission to take a break when they are in DEBILITATING PAIN!” She’s right. So, no blog post this week. Here’s picture of a kitten for reading this notice. We need to rest up and take care of ourselves and gather our energy. We are in for the fight of our lives.
Last week, a colleague told me they wrote a grant proposal that totaled 72 pages, for a $5,000 grant. I really hoped that this was a piece of performance art, titled something like “The Ontology of Philanthropy and the Meta-Futility of Existence.” But no, it was real.
Power imbalance is pervasive in our sector, as ubiquitous as hummus, though not nearly as delicious. There is always asymmetry in power when one party holds resources that another party needs. This imbalance leads to all sorts of awfulness. There are endless horror stories like the above. Power differentials warp people’s minds, allowing for the internalization of toxic philosophies like strategic philanthropy, which leads to the perpetuation of crappy funding practices.
Unfortunately, people often think it’s something that only other people are guilty of, that they themselves don’t perpetuate it. There are lots of great program officers, and they are probably just as horrified by a 72-page grant proposal as the rest of us. But power dynamics can often be more subtle, to the point that we don’t recognize it, and even nice program officers are caught up in it. Here are some examples:
Hi everyone. We are rapidly approaching the summer, which means it’s time for the annual Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy (PEEP), a series of events across the sector where funders and nonprofit folks get together, virtually or in-person (ideally outdoors), to break down the weird power dynamics we have, and just learn to see one another as human beings. It should be fun and informal, and usually taking place on the week of Summer Solstice (June 21st this year). If you are planning to host an event, please fill out this form by June 10th so I can help spread the word.