Giving Compass' Take:

• Vu Le explores the notion that philanthropy and nonprofit sectors have lost their collective imagination when it comes to creating a world that prioritizes equity and justice. 

• Le uses the example of the barriers to defunding the police and investing in community resources to pursue societal gains for the less-privileged. What is keeping donors from working toward that vision? 

• Read more about how funders can align equity and justice. 

Over the weekend, I am sure you are aware, another Black person was killed by the police. Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. He was asleep when the police woke him up and murdered him, like the police murdered Breonna Taylor while she was asleep in her own home. The list of names of Black people being murdered by the police keeps growing, even while we’re marching. Over here in Seattle, there is a strong call to defund the police and decriminalize Seattle, with many people, including me, signing on to this petition asking to halve the police budget in Seattle and investing that money in mental health, housing, and other services.

This moment in history is a test for nonprofit and philanthropy, and unfortunately, I don’t think we are doing very well. Our sector has been frozen for so long by fear. Nonprofits fear not having enough resources to keep going. Foundations fear what will happen when they increase their payout rate beyond the pathetic minimum 5%. Fundraisers fear upsetting donors when they bring up difficult topics like white supremacy. Staff fear their boards. Boards fear giving staff too much power. The entire sector is fearful of political engagement. And most people, me included, fear losing their livelihoods and means of feeding their families if they rock the boat too much.

The saddest result though is that our sector, little by little, over decades of internalized fear, has lost its collective imagination. Like most of society, it can no longer envision a world that’s possible. Most of us, without realizing it, have resigned ourselves to the belief that the world is always going to be crappy, and all we can do is help lessen the pain for the unfortunate souls living in it for as long as we can. Our visions say “a community without poverty and racism and everyone thrives” or whatever, but our strategic plans are incremental, safe, and unlikely to upset people.

Read the full article about philanthropy fighting for equity and justice by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.