It’s easy to get depressed about the state of the world this year. The coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice, wildfires and the breakdown of democratic norms have many of us feeling down. But 2 things are giving me hope these days: the massive demonstrations for racial justice and philanthropy’s increasing willingness to fund movements.

Millions of Americans have taken to the streets this year to demand racial justice. Maurice Mitchell and Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson — who are co-leading a great new initiative called The Frontline – estimate that 26 million people have been part of the protests, making this the largest mass movement since the Civil Rights Movement.

You might be surprised to hear this from someone who is usually highly critical of the sector, but I think philanthropy has come through in some major ways this year. Foundations and high-net-worth donors are moving real money to the organizations driving change. This is different than with the Civil Rights Movement, when only 4 foundations really stepped up.

Here are what I see as some of the bright spots:

MacKenzie Scott’s first round of giving was the best initial foray into philanthropy by a billionaire that I’ve ever observed. She did a ton of things exactly right with that first $1.7 billion in grants: She gave a huge sum of money quickly, prioritized equity and funded amazing organizations that strive to make our nation more just.

The Ford Foundation made headlines in June when they decided to issue social impact bonds so they could spend $1 billion more in 2020 and 2021.

These examples of great giving in 2020 offer us lessons for what is needed from donors and foundations in 2021. Here are 5 of the most important things funders can do:

  1.  Increase grant spending.
  2. Make long-term commitments to social and racial justice work.
  3. Invest in organizations led by Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color and immigrants.
  4. Give general operating support.
  5. Invest in the South.

Read the full article about donors supporting movements by Aaron Dorfman at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.