Hi everyone, this post may be less coherent and more serious than normal. I can’t stop thinking about the news regarding the remains of 215 Native children found at the site of a residential school in Kamloops, Canada. White Canadians – teachers, administrators, the church, the government – murdered them. It is deeply sad and horrifying. I can only imagine the pain and trauma these children endured, and what Indigenous families and communities have been going through.
Meanwhile, this week marks the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, where in the span of hours a mob of white people murdered hundreds of Black people, left thousands homeless, and burned Black Wall Street to the ground. It is profoundly horrendous, and something I don’t think our white-centric education system taught many of us.
Hi everyone, before we get to this week’s topic, thank you to those of you who voted on the new name of our annual sector-wide event where nonprofit and philanthropy leaders get together to get snacks and hang out to help break down some of the pervasive power dynamics between us. (We’re changing the original name—BEER, Beverage to Enhance Equity in Relationships—to be more inclusive of colleagues in recovery). We got over 1500 votes! The clear winner, with nearly 40% of the votes, is PEEP—Party to Enhance Equity in Philanthropy. So there you have it. Some of you are hilarious, providing suggestions like Party to Enhance Equity, and Party to Open Others to Philanthropy.
Anyway, I hope you’ll host a PEEP event sometime around mid-June. If you plan to have one, please fill out this form, so that I can help promote your event. And so help me MYGOD (Multi-Year General Operating Dollars), if you call it a “PEEP Party” (like “ATM Machine” or “PIN Number”), I will rain hellfire on you and your communications team.
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.
Hi everyone, before we get to today’s topic, I’m having a conversation with the brilliant Angie Kim, CEO of the Center for Cultural Innovation, on May 27th at 10am PST, about our sector. “Vu and Angie will have an informal, probably profanity-laden fireside chat, where we discuss what’s working and what’s not. Get ready to get provoked, maybe pissed off. There might be puppets.” It’s free. See details and register here.
Also, I may expand on this topic later, but here’s a petition calling for Congress to enact legislation to increase foundations’ and donor-advised funds’ payout rates for the next three years. Please sign it if you are so inclined. THIS IS THE RAINY DAY that funders and donors have been saving for, and it’s unconscionable that hundreds of billions are just sitting there while people die.
Lately, I’ve been getting more notices from colleagues distraught by their board or team saying things like “It’s a pandemic, we don’t have time to work on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Let’s get back to it when we get back to normal.” This view, that somehow equity work is like the parsley garnish to the risotto of “real work,” is pervasive. I wrote about it earlier here, mentioning a cancer organization that does not understand what race and equity have to do with cancer. This crisis has unfortunately further amplified this perspective for many people and organizations.
This week I got a text message from a foundation program officer colleague talking about “when philanthropy takes equity seriously but not really because they ask the POC to be THE equity person when they are already doing four jobs.” This reminds me of “Equity Offset,” a term my friend James Lovell may have invented when he and some colleagues were discussing the phenomenon of nonprofits or foundations bringing in well-regarded speakers or equity consultants to signal that the organizations are “woke,” and this then allows them to continue being inequitable.
Equity Offset is like carbon offset. Carbon offset, in simplistic terms, works like this: Companies or individuals pay for trees to be planted, or parks to be cleaned up, or other things that reduce carbon or other greenhouse gas emissions, in order to offset their own negative environmental impact. This allows them to basically continue polluting while feeling less guilty.