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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We must all think about sunsetting, not just foundations

[Image description: A magnificent sunset. Or sunrise. Over a lake. With a wooden path leading out into the water. A boat floats serenely in the distance. Image by Pok_Rie on Pixabay]

Hi everyone. A couple of things before we start. If you can spare it, here are some places to donate to help people in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana who are severely affected by winter storms. Colleagues in these states, I’m thinking of you.

If you are free this Wednesday, February 24th, from 10am to 11am PT, attend this important conversation on the California Black Freedom Fund, a $100M, 5-year initiative “to ensure that Black power-building and movement-based organizations have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism.” I’m glad to see this, and I hope this sparks other funders to invest significantly in Black organizing and power-building.

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A concept in philanthropy that I find interesting is “sunsetting,” when a foundation expends its endowment at a rate that will eventually deplete its funds, leading to the foundation closing down. I always appreciate when funders have the courage to do this. So many societal problems could be resolved more effectively if more foundations would spend more now to solve these problems instead of hoarding resources, which allows entrenched issues to persist.

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Funders, back up your equity statements with actual cash to BIPOC communities

[Image description: A rolled-up wad of US dollars, the outer one being a one-dollar bill, held together with a rubber band. The wad is resting on a spread of higher-level bills, including 20s and 100s. Image by pasja1000 on Pixabay]

Hi everyone, thank you to all of you who expressed concerns for my sister on her COVID recovery, which I mentioned last week. She’s getting well enough for us to resume our ongoing sibling bickering over inane things, so I think that’s good.

Before we get into today’s post, on December 10th at 11am PT, there is a free webinar on Transformational Capacity Building, led by my brilliant colleagues April Nishimura, Roshni Sampath, and Anbar Mahar Sheikh, based on this article I helped write. Fellow organizational development nerds, I hope to see you there so we can explore a more equitable model of doing capacity building. Or at least figure out how to explain what the hell it is to our families over virtual holiday dinners.

As I drove to my sister’s to deliver groceries and minestrone soup, I passed by a home improvement store and noticed the dozen folks standing out in the cold, waiting for construction or landscaping day jobs. As the pandemic progressed, day laborers have been hit hard. Gigs have been drying up, and many workers have families to support.

This year has been a nightmare, but I don’t think the majority of us really understand what is coming. Moratoriums on evictions are ending soon, and 40,000,000 people face being kicked out of their homes. As winter arrives, the levels of poverty, homelessness, pain, and trauma will reach levels we may not be able to grasp and our sector is not equipped to handle.

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What nonprofit and philanthropy must do now to help ensure this nightmare won’t happen again

[Image description: Black and brown protesters, all wearing covid masks, holding up signs, including a large one that says “We who believe in freedom cannot rest. Ella Baker.” Others hold up signs that say “prosecute killer cops,” “end police brutality,” and “Black lives matter, Black trans lives matter.” Image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.]

Happy Monday, everyone! The happiest I can recall in a while! I was able to sleep soundly for the first time in a long time, and my stress acne magically cleared up and has been replaced by hope acne. (Look, even my sense of humor is returning!) Before I forget, Crystal Hayling, ED of the Libra Foundation, and I will be having an informal conversation this week, November 10th at 1pm PT, to debrief philanthropy and anything else that we want to discuss. We didn’t plan any talking points, so half of the conversation may just be about our favorite shows, who knows, join us.

I know that most of us are taking some time to celebrate this political and moral victory. Some of us are still in disbelief, and like a large multi-year pledged donation that hasn’t been paid, we can’t really believe that this is real until our new president and vice president are sworn in on inauguration day. I too am a jumble of emotions: hope, catharsis, joy, but also hypervigilance and fear at the backlash that may be coming.

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Privilege, power, and personal conflicts: The forces preventing change in nonprofit and philanthropy

[Image description: A crowed of protesters, most wearing masks covering their noses and mouths. They are holding signs, with prominent ones saying “Black trans lives matter,” “racism is the real virus,” “silence is violence,” “and enough is enough.” Pixabay.com]

Hi everyone. Apologies, this post will likely be long, poorly edited, and not have as many links to sources and I would like. I haven’t slept much, and even with a partner who is an experienced educator, parenting and crisis-schooling two small children have been fun but challenging.

As the protests against our deeply anti-Black, extremely racist systems continue, I am glad to see that foundations and nonprofits are getting more engaged in the conversations about how our sector must change. Invest more in Black-led organizations. Support grassroots orgs working to enable marginalized communities to vote and elect more women of color into office. Analyze the diversity at our own organizations and DO SOMETHING about the pervasiveness of senior leaders being white and front-line staff being BIPOC. Change the way fundraising is done to be less white-donor-centered. Increase payout rates beyond the minimum 5% and give Multi-Year General Operating Funds (MYGOD)!

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