Giving Compass' Take:

• Stanford Social Innovation Review talks about the potential barriers to utilizing power ethically and responsibly, and how funders can overcome them to advance equity.

• The first step is to acknowledge that power is there, even when it's not obvious. What can we do to encourage more institutional buy-in and encourage risk-taking?

• Here's more on why the future of philanthropy is power, knowledge and trust.

Like air, power is everywhere, yet it is often invisible. We may not think about its role in our daily lives, but we live and breathe it. Used positively, power helps communities thrive. But there’s also a dark side.

Like polluted air, power becomes most visible when something is wrong — when someone abuses it, and the consequences are inescapable. Foundations often wait to acknowledge inequitable power dynamics and their impact until events force them to — a police shooting of an unarmed black person in their community, or a parent deported and their family torn apart. Once power is visible, we see how race, gender, wealth, and other identifiers influence who has power over whom.

But even unseen power can do harm, sometimes unwittingly, as when our health system treats white people better than people of color or our school funding formula disadvantages low-income students. Indeed, it lurks behind every major disparity in access or outcomes for marginalized people.

It also hides in foundations’ bank accounts and boardrooms, in every meeting with a grant applicant or grant partner, in every community meeting or city council meeting. It can be found in grantmaking practices that inadvertently favor some applicants over others.

Read the full article about how grantmakers can use power mindfully to advance equity by Lisa Ranghelli at Stanford Social Innovation Review.