The combined impact of COVID-19, historic levels of political vitriol, widespread economic uncertainty, and numerous racial atrocities have affixed the concept of racial equity and justice into the mainstream philanthropic imagination. However, a steady progression of activities focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) over the past decade have precipitated this surge in interest (see the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE)).

This includes a broad spectrum of case-making activities for racial equity, such as the sector-wide efforts centering Black men and boys, Black women and girls, and men and boys of color. Moreover, several efforts aimed at shifting philanthropic practice and culture have emerged more recently through the research of groups like Building Movement Project and ABFE, as well as initiatives such as the Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund (REP)Trust-Based PhilanthropyPower Moves, and Race Forward/Government Alliance for Racial Equity (GARE).

Combined, these efforts have pointed out the critical need for grantmakers to 1) examine who we are funding and 2) increase giving to organizations led by Black, Indigenous, and other representative leaders of historically marginalized communities. Moreover, they have advocated, in accord with GEO, for developing discipline around tracking investments in a manner that provides a nuanced accounting of who receives funding, as well as the types and amounts of any investment, which reliably produces more meaningful impact.

Additionally, the question of philanthropy’s endgame is one that we, as a community of grantmakers committed to advancing philanthropic effectiveness in support of thriving communities, believe goes unanswered at our own collective peril. In fact, we find ourselves aligned in our curiosity with philanthropic leaders such as Nat Chioke Williams, CEO of Hill-Snowdon Foundation, when he asks, “Is the overall goal to right historical wrongs and combat enduring racial inequities?” The findings of CEP’s report would suggest that it is not — at least when measured by the attitudes and practices of philanthropic leaders regarding flexible, long-term support prior to the onset of COVID-19.

That said, it seems useful to consider how we might view the situation differently based on the numerous accounts of pledges and pivots in institutional practice since the onset of the triple pandemic of health crises, economic uncertainty, and racial reckoning. Does enough evidence exist currently to arrive at a different conclusion regarding “righting historical wrongs and combatting racial inequities”? It may be too early to tell. However, within the GEO community, which is expanding to include grantmakers of various ilk that earnestly grapple with the complexities of integrating equitable practices, we share Williams’ point of view that ”grantmakers must coordinate their efforts and promise to stay with the fight for as long as it takes.”

Read the full article about centering racial equity by Marcus Walton at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.