Give More: The generosity many are showing simply isn't enough to cope with the enormity of the challenges in our communities. Not even close. So dig deeper.
Explore Mission Investing: One good way to punch above our weight at this time of severe need is to go beyond traditional charitable grants. Innovators like the Nathan Cummings and Heron Foundations are investing all of the assets from their endowments to make loans and equity investments that advance the mission of their foundations. To this end, we hope funders will review Clara Miller's outstanding SSIR article "Arriving at 100 Percent for Mission. Now What?."
Go to Bat For Your Grantees: Pull out all the stops to support grantees with the greatest potential to deliver meaningful, financially sustainable results in vital areas of need. Some need your support to sustain their value, while others are poised to materially scale their impact. Provide multiyear, flexible dollars that give the grantee the best chance to succeed.
Adopt an Equity Lens: It's great to see funders talking about equity. But we fear that some new efforts will actually be counterproductive if they're more about workshops and checklists than deep introspection and genuine culture change. If you're open to the latter, then you'll find PolicyLink, FSG, and Just Capital's "A CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity" and Bridgespan and ABFE's "Guiding a Giving Response to Anti-Black Injustice" to be excellent starting points. You might also gain insights from "Shared Prosperity: Our Corporate Responsibility in a Time of Consternation," which explains that we're at a watershed moment to take on race, offers insightful approaches, and shares tangible actions for what we can do.
Move Out of Your Comfort Zone: Give your grant pipeline a good, hard look. If you're a typical funder, you'll find that most of these organizations came to your attention through an influential person in your personal or professional network. This dynamic hurts leaders of color.
Lend Expertise When Needed: In these crazy times, nonprofits may face a host of externalities they can't control. For instance, the Great Recession's financial markets' failure nearly bankrupted a school for children who learn differently. When the markets crashed, the school's multi-million-dollar loan, collateralized by a swap agreement, blew up. A funder stepped in to help the school marshal leaders with great "work-out" experience and staved off foreclosure. SeaChange's Think Outside The Box offers creative ways funders can bring their skills to bear for the benefit of grantees and entire communities.
Fund Nonprofit Advocacy: All the crises we face involve public policies. Help your grantees advocate for policies that can help (e.g., expanding charitable giving incentives) and fight those that can hurt (e.g., cuts to unemployment benefits, which will send even more people to nonprofits for help). In addition to providing more funding, review your grant-award letters to ensure they don't prohibit grantees from engaging in advocacy.
Read the full guide for funders by Mario Morino at Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community.