Last month, I had the privilege of speaking on a webinar hosted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to discuss its recent research report, Funder Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic. As I’ve reflected on the comments of my co-speakers, Chitra Hanstad from World Relief Seattle and Stephanie Hull from Girls, Inc. (notably, fellow women of color), as well as conversations I’ve had with nonprofit and philanthropic leaders since then, I’d like to share my reflections on three key findings from CEP’s study.

  1. The negative impacts of COVID-19 have been magnified for nonprofits that provide direct services and serve historically disadvantaged communities.
  2. Nonprofit organizations led by CEOs who identify as people of color rate their staffed foundation funders significantly higher on helpfulness than nonprofits led by CEOs who do not.
  3. Major donors are significantly less likely to have talked with nonprofits that are led by women about how they will support them in the future.

What can foundation staff and major donors do to address the inequities in funding organizations that are led by, authentically connected to, and accountable to people of color? How can we shift our power dynamics with — and build the power of — organizations that serve communities of color, listen to the people and communities they seek to help, and respond to what they hear with integrity and respect?

First, foundations can diversify their staff by hiring people who reflect the racial background and lived experience of the communities they seek to help.

Second, foundations can change and become positive and supportive places for people of color to thrive and succeed.

Third, foundation staff and major donors can build authentic and meaningful relationships with nonprofit leaders of color, prioritize funding organizations that serve and are led by communities of color, and connect those leaders and organizations with other funders.

And fourth, everyone can make efforts to be proximate to the people and communities they seek to help, striving to listen, understand, and then act on what they hear.

Read the full article about amplified needs by Melinda Tuan at the Center for Effective Philanthropy.