A reinvigorated national movement for racial justice has gained steam, and other broad-based movements for gender, economic, climate and immigrant justice are successfully moving their agenda into the mainstream of progressive politics.

CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO), that in October 2017 GEO’s board adopted a new position on the centrality of racial equity to their organization’s mission. “In the years ahead,” Kathleen wrote, “we are committed to supporting racial equity in philanthropy in ways that are aligned with the GEO community’s identity, [and] we are committed to helping develop a new concept of effectiveness … that integrates racial equity.”

NCRP agrees with GEO that “sound management” and “strong governance” – two key facets of its definition of organizational effectiveness – are fundamentally subjective, and therefore vulnerable to implicit bias. We also agree that executing programming well is only a public good if those programs are not based in what Kathleen called “false narratives” about the root causes of injustice. We agree that these factors are undoubtedly at play in a nonprofit and philanthropic sector where whiteness – and white-dominated definitions of what effectiveness looks like – have always been the driving force behind the movement to identify and invest in effective organizations.

Funders must embrace an ideal of responsiveness that cedes the power to define what is effective and what impact looks like, and shares the power to determine who is worthy of foundation investment with those communities directly affected by the challenges we confront. We must acknowledge that to continue to define effectiveness within the white-dominated halls of philanthropy is to perpetuate the racial injustice we deplore.

I hope that a radically responsive perspective on grantmaking will also find its way into GEO’s push to implement racial equity values in its work.

Read the full article about a new definition of effective philanthropy by Aaron Dorfman at The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.