Editor Stacy Palmer offers a sneak peek at what’s in each new issue. Available exclusively to subscribers, this newsletter gives you perspective on the most important trends and developments we’re following — as well as background on how we report and analyze key issues in the nonprofit world. Delivered once a month. (Subscribers only.)
From: Stacy Palmer
Subject: Fundraiser Diversity, Social Bonds Boost Giving, Nonprofits Learn Social Media
Tycely Williams is a familiar name to many fundraisers because of her prominent role as a leader of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ effort to stomp out gender bias and sexual harassment in development offices nationwide.
But Williams (above) has also been working hard to promote racial and gender equity as she builds her own team at America’s Promise Alliance. She was more determined than ever to do that after she encountered bias as chief development officer at the Red Cross chapter that serves the Washington metropolitan region.
Not only was she concerned that the organization’s fundraising tactics had been designed by white people to work for white people, but the critiques of her leadership style seemed to be based on prejudice, she told my colleague Eden Stiffman. First she was described as too aggressive. When she took a different tack, she was told she lacked leadership skills and wasn’t competent.
“I wasn’t operating in an environment where power was being shared or adequately distributed,” she says. “It was a culture of 'do as we say, not as you think.'”
That kind of culture has driven many fundraisers of color away from their organizations and in some cases out of the development profession. But a growing number of leaders and nonprofits are finding ways create more inclusive workplaces, Eden reports in the Chronicle’s April cover story. Her reporting details the steps that are making a difference, such as work by the All Stars Project to build its own fundraising pipeline of diverse development staff.
That’s essential, Peter Hayashida, head of the UC Riverside Foundation, told Eden, because nonprofits’ laser focus on short-term funding needs too often gets in the way of advancing diversity. “The profession needs to look beyond ‘I can’t worry about DEI today because I have a fundraising goal to meet and I just have to hire the best people.’” That’s code, he says, for “I’m going to hire more people who look like the people I already have.”
We have much more in the new April issue posted online today. Among the highlights:
More and more foundations are issuing debt so they can step up their giving. Grant makers have issued more than $3 billion in social bonds to increase the amount they have available to give away. A group of foundations such as Ford and MacArthur kicked off the idea in the spring and have since been joined by the Bush and Rockefeller Foundations, among others. The California Endowment, for instance, plans to give the proceeds of its $300 million bond over the next few years and then has 30 years to pay the money back at a 2.5 percent rate. Still, not all foundations like the idea. Adam Falk, head of the Sloan Foundation, says he worries that pressure to pay the money back could lead to problems that put endowment funds at risk.
That’s not the only foundation innovation we cover in the new issue: Alex also looks at the approach the Jessie Ball duPont Foundation took after Covid struck. It realized nonprofits needed to get a lot savvier about online fundraising once it was impossible to hold walkathons, galas, and other in-person events. So it offered grantees crash courses in how to use Twitter and Facebook and assisted with other ways to boost digital contributions.
Did Bloomberg Philanthropies do more harm than good with a $160 million campaign to end vaping? Some health experts say they worry that the success in banning e-cigarettes limited an important tool to end smoking, Marc Gunther reports. The issue is an important one not just for health but also for social justice because debates over vaping regulations pit young affluent teenagers against the more vulnerable, who are struggling to kick cigarette addictions. Plus, Marc examines the strategy of another big grant maker, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is aiming its anti-tobacco work squarely at curbing cigarette use by people of color and poor whites.
One year after Covid, what’s should be on the grant-making agenda? Our opinion section enlisted several key players in philanthropy to offer views on what’s important a year after the lockdown began. Ellen Dorsey of the Wallace Global Fund and Aaron Dorfman of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy say foundation assets soared so high in recent months that it’s time to give a lot more over the next three years to bring about an equitable recovery. And Tonya Allen, Kathleen Enright, and Hilary Pennington urge grant makers to go beyond the changes they made in 2020 and do what nonprofits need most, especially as they seek to promote racial justice. Enright is head of the Council on Foundations, which Allen, head of McKnight, chairs. Pennington is a top official at Ford.
Looking ahead to what else is happening this month, I am excited to join Amir Pasic, head of Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy for an hour long conversation on April 21 about what’s happening in the nonprofit world. Sign up to join us.
And as I began drafting this message to you, I took a break to watch 60 Minutes, because I knew it would include Leslie Stahl’s profile of the Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker.
The segment is a rare instance of philanthropy’s leadership getting the same attention as corporate and government executives. And it might make you want to learn more about Walker’s philosophy. Just before the pandemic and so much else commanded your full attention, we published a series of essays that are worth giving a look if you missed them earlier. Elizabeth Alexander, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Laura Arnold all responded to the ideas Walker articulated in his book From Generosity to Justice. And Alex Daniels reported on how Walker and other foundations have been seeking to build a new way for capitalism to operate.
Enjoy reading the new issue. Let us know what more all of us at the Chronicle can do to help serve you better.