Racialized and marginalized people are exhausted. We need a break from talking and thinking about inequity and injustice all the time.

[Image description: A beagle puppy asleep on a beige couch. They are brown with dark patches on their back, and white paws and white area around their nose. Image by Nick115 on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, the weather is finally nice in Seattle, so I want to finish this blog post quickly and take my kids to the playground. They are growing up fast, and I know there will come a day when they will stop asking me to take them to the playground. Apologies in advance if this post is not as eloquent or have as many citations as might be expected of this topic.

If you’re in fundraising and on social media, chances are you’ve been following this situation. I am so grateful for all the colleagues who are calling out problematic behaviors, asking for our sector to be better, to be more aligned with equity and justice. Because, frankly, I am very tired. My friends at Community-Centric Fundraising and I did not ask to be dragged into this battle. We were all minding our own business. I was watching “Waffles and Mochi” with my kids, learning about how potatoes are cooked in a huatia.

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Funders: Here’s a tool to make your grantmaking more equitable

[Image description: An adorable tan and white puppy, smiling at the camera with big dark eyes. Not sure what they are, maybe a shiba inu? Or a husky? Corgi? Picture by Stanley on Unsplash.]

It is not a secret that I am not a big fan of the way grantmaking has been done in our sector. Often, the foundations who claim to be aligned with equity continue to use truly crappy funding practices that perpetuate inequity. As a reminder, only 7% of philanthropic dollars are targeted toward Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and POC communities, and 3% go toward serving disabled people, according to this summary by Candid. Trans communities, meanwhile, receive only .015% “or a penny for every $100.

If foundations are serious about moving funding to the communities that are most affected by systemic injustice, then their funding philosophies and practices must evolve. My previous organization RVC and I collaborated to develop this Equitable Grantmaking Continuum, based on our experience working with grassroots organizations led by and serving marginalized communities these past several years, and taking a few pointers from efforts such as Trust-Based Philanthropy and Grantadvisor.org. Here’s the full-version, and here’s the one-pager you can print out and hang on your wall. Use this tool to analyze how your foundation is doing and then start taking action. Here are things to keep in mind:

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Vaccines for major donors, and how our fundraising practices perpetuate unethical behaviors and inequity

[Image description: A syringe filled with a green liquid, labeled “vaccine,” its long needle with one droplet at the end, hovering over a spread of $500-bills. Damn, this is a great image for this post! In case you’re curious, it takes me 15 to 45 minutes to find the right picture and caption it for each post. This image is by geralt on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, quick announcement before we begin. BIPOC fundraisers, join Community-Centric Fundraising on Thursday, February 11 at 2pm PT for conversation and camaraderie. This is the second of a three-part monthly series. Register here. The series is for Black, Indigenous, and people of color, thanks white allies for understanding.

This post will likely upset many people, so please take a CBD gummy or make some calming tea or something before you proceed further. By now, you may have heard about the Overlake Hospital scandal where donors who gave $10,000 or more were offered appointments to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, this is happening across the country, including in Rhode Island, Kansas, New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida. These breaches of ethics are absolutely infuriating, especially considering the inequity. White people are immunized at greater rates, even though Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people have been dying at significantly higher rates.

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21 Signs You or Your Organization May Be the White Moderate Dr. King Warned About

[Image description: A black-and-white photo of people gathered, with someone holding up a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking into a bunch of microphones. The picture has the caption “I have the same dream.” Image by Jerónimo Bernot at Unsplash.com]

This week we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose teachings have often been beacons of light for our sector. As we transition into something resembling hope and renewal with this incoming presidential administration, I encourage us to reflect on the words Dr. King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, where he warned of the “white moderate” being the biggest barrier toward social justice. He said:

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

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Foundations, stop playing the reckless game of Funding-Chicken

[Image description: A chicken with reddish feathers an a yellow beak, starting directly at the camera, looking very quizzical. Image by Hannah Oliver on Unsplash.com]

Hi everyone. Quick reminder: The second part of the Philanthropic Reforms town halls is today, 10/5, at 11am PT, where several prominent sector leaders will be exploring policies and strategies on foundations and Donor-Advised Funds to prevent wealth hoarding and tax evasion. This is the follow-up from the first town hall, which I moderated. Here’s the recording.

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Durfee Foundation President Carrie Avery and I were discussing over email the power dynamics between funders and nonprofits. While there is much to talk about, Carrie brought up a really good point that I had not considered before—the term “Foundation Program Officer” is weird:

“Why an officer? An officer makes me think of a police officer, a probation officer, someone in a position of power whose judgment can have a devastating and decisive effect. If foundations want to work with their ‘nonprofit partners’ then why is the person on the foundation side of that relationship called an officer? Language matters. Let’s start a movement to rename this role!”

I agree, and while we’re thinking about new titles, let’s completely reimagine what the role entails. It should be less micromanagey—like a boss who constantly watches over you to make sure you don’t steal office supplies—and more expansive, like a favorite colleague that you can commiserate with and occasionally play pranks on.

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