In the scheme of the foundation world, the Langeloth Foundation is tiny.

Years ago, at a cocktail party, I met someone on the investment side of a large New York-based foundation who asked me what one foundation staffer inevitably asks of another: “How big is your endowment?” When I responded, “around $90 million,” he scoffed and said, “That’s what we give away per year!”

In spite of our “tiny” endowment, last year the Langeloth Foundation’s Board approved grantmaking that exceeded 25 percent of our assets, totaling roughly $28 million. A large portion of this ($20 million) supported efforts to ensure that every voter in the 2020 U.S. election could cast their ballot in a safe and healthy manner, whether in person or by mail. The grants supported work that recognized and responded to disenfranchisement and misinformation campaigns targeted at BIPOC communities. Part of the remaining $8 million was rapid-response funding for COVID-19-related expenses that enabled organizations to adapt to remote working and/or targeted programmatic efforts.

Throughout the year, we remained committed to supporting our existing core program areas, including Justice Reform (ending the use of solitary confinement and changing hearts and minds in pursuit of a healthier society) and Safe and Healthy Communities (gun violence prevention in Black and brown communities). These two areas have become increasingly relevant as the pandemic has continued. The number of incarcerated people put into solitary confinement under the guise of medical isolation increased by 500 percent as a result of the pandemic. In addition, the number of firearm-related incidents increased dramatically across the country, causing tremendous pain for communities that have also been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 infections and deaths.

Our increased spending was not part of a spend-down plan. Rather, it recognized the confluence of events in a historic moment: one of the most important federal elections in decades coinciding with a global pandemic the likes of which the world has not been seen in a century, and which — due to deeply embedded structural racism and inequities for which national protests spread across the country — has disproportionately impacted BIPOC communities.

Read the full article about being philanthropic by Andrea Fionda at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.