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Shifting philanthropy’s outmoded ways of working is the challenge that will define the sector in the coming decade. We can no longer afford inaction that perpetuates the status quo. We must pursue what evidence indicates will take us toward equitable recovery and shared prosperity.
Committing to transform our communities means that everyone rolls up their sleeves and puts the good of the whole — a shared vision of inclusive prosperity and well-being — above individual organizational mandates and missions. This requires decision-makers in philanthropy to catch up to their staff and partners, embrace new narratives of possibility and inclusive decision-making, invoke new mental models, shift organizational and sector culture, change default ways of viewing and holding power, and take bolder and more community-responsive actions. No time is more urgent than now, as Irene Wong, local grantmaking program director at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, shared: “We’ve had a ‘philanthropic wake-up call’ of sorts as our communities and world have been upended — with COVID and our long overdue racial awakening. It’s philanthropy’s ‘moment of truth.’”
To capitalize on this moment, Open Impact and Northern California Grantmakers, supported by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, launched a listening tour of 25 leading philanthropic practitioners based in Northern California and working in solidarity with local communities. Specifically, we sought to understand how — within a region that harbors some of the most extreme economic inequality in the nation — we might revitalize philanthropy’s vision, boost its ambitions, and reimagine how the philanthropic sector contributes to a region sustained by equitable systems. Further, how might we leverage what we learn here to inform conversations happening nationwide? We synthesized our findings in a report, Get It Right: 5 Shifts Philanthropy Must Make Toward an Equitable Region, to make the case that today is a time for audacious vision and action.
As A. Sparks, CEO of the Masto Foundation, noted: “This is a unique moment in time, funders are finally willing to listen, they are seeing the suffering that has always existed but that was hidden from philanthropy’s isolated and limited vantage point. And they are connecting the dots to systems and the movement building that will be necessary to make change.”
Most philanthropic staff, given their relative proximity to nonprofits and communities, will read this report and nod (and even wonder at the need to restate years-old guidance). In fact, the practices and strategies highlighted in Get It Right reiterate and underscore the work of many others in the sector, as captured in Trust-based Philanthropy practices and Purpose-driven Board Leadership principles, among others.
Read the full article about getting it right by Kate Wilkinson and Dwayne Marsh at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.