Michelle DePass, the first black CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust, says racial bias is “the national issue of our time."<br/>
Michelle DePass, the first black CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust, says racial bias is “the national issue of our time.”

Good morning. Foundations are moving quickly to join the fight for racial justice, committing nearly half a billion dollars, while Black fundraisers are pushing their organizations to move forward with concrete equity actions. Plus, a new campaign urges rich Americans and foundations to give far more during the Covid crisis. That comes as new data estimates that 7 percent of nonprofits will fail as the pandemic and economic turmoil worsen. And a new study shows that sexual harassment at one nonprofit can hurt all nonprofits.

Stacy Palmer and Dan Parks

Grant Makers Pour Hundreds of Millions Into Racial Justice

Speedy response to protests: Nearly half a billion dollars has now been committed to fighting racism, including a nearly $170 million commitment announced Wednesday by the Hewlett Foundation, writes Alex Daniels.

Hewlett is the second major grant maker to commit more than $100 million to racial justice in the span of one week following the Open Society Foundations’ $220 million plan to support Black-led organizations.

At Oregon’s Meyer Memorial Trust, which pledged $25 million to racial justice this week, Michelle DePass (shown above), the first Black CEO of the organization, says she approached her board when racial protests made it clear this was a moment of opportunity to fight systemic racism.

In addition to providing money, Meyer plans to hire more people who have experience with racist systems and ask them to work with grassroots organizations to decide how best to design its new Justice Oregon for Black Lives program.

DePass says she believes all foundation chief executives need to take action to fight racism. “There is no pass for any of us. There is no pass for a Black leader of a foundation. There is no pass for a white leader of a foundation. There is no pass for a place-based funder or a national fund. This is the national issue of our time.

Plus: Corporate philanthropy is taking action, too. Salesforce committed $200 million for racial justice.

Putting Pressure on the Wealthy to Give More

A pledge drive for the millionaire class: A foundation leader has launched a new “crisis charitable commitment” campaign designed to persuade grant makers, wealthy individuals, and donor-advised-fund account holders to boost their giving immediately, with a special focus on racial justice, getting voters to the polls this November, and making sure their ballots count.

The idea came from Alan Davis, president of the Leonard and Sophie Davis Fund. Davis wants people to volunteer to give more, and he is also a member of a group called the Patriotic Millionaires, which is asking Congress to force foundations to give at least 10 percent of assets annually over the next three years. He urged Congress to take action in an opinion article.

The volunteer effort is designed to get things moving fast and give wealthy people a way to join forces to act. “The donor class is not collaborating,” he says. “This is an effort to get people to stand up together.”

Some of those ideas are getting pushback. Joanne Florino, a top official of the Philanthropy Roundtable, says that the response to the crisis is stronger because individuals and foundations are doing what they think best and undertaking a kaleidoscope of efforts that solve problems.

What’s more, she is worried that asking Congress to step in would hobble philanthropy’s effectiveness. She asks: “Is it ‘patriotic’ to demand legislation that will hamper severely — and perhaps destroy entirely — the ability of philanthropy to respond effectively to the next major crisis?”

Startling Findings on Harassment at Charities

The #MeToo movement’s impact on donors is becoming clearer. More than one in five donors stopped giving to a charity after hearing of a sexual harassment incident there, and just over 17 percent of doors said they decided to give less, according to a new poll by Give.org, an arm of the Better Business Bureau.

What’s more, the effect ripples beyond charities accused of wrongdoing, writes Emily Haynes. Among donors who either gave less or stopped giving to a charity once they learned of a sexual-harassment allegation, nearly 39 percent said they abstained from giving to another charity with a similar mission and better reputation.

And perhaps most alarming, the study found that half of the people polled who worked at a charity said they had witnessed an incident of harassment.

The Charity Death Toll Could Be Immense

Many nonprofits won’t make it out of the Covid economy. Some 22,000 charities could close their doors because of the economic crisis. That figure represents a failure rate of 7 percent among the 315,698 U.S.-based nonprofits whose financial data Candid examined.

But the picture could be far worse than that, Candid says. In the worst case, a severe and prolonged period of economic turbulence could mean that nearly 40 percent of nonprofits will die, while the most optimistic or “miracle” scenario is 8,420 closures, or just 3 percent.

“The majority of nonprofit organizations are positioned to weather this storm,” Candid says, although it also notes that it will take years to get a clear picture of the financial impact of the economic crisis on nonprofits.

Advancing Equity in the Nonprofit Work Force

A push for action: Black leaders in college fundraising are circulating a pledge with concrete steps to create a path for diverse leadership in development offices, writes Eden Stiffman.

The goal is to make college fundraising’s leadership and professional talent pool reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. Joakim Nyoni, associate vice president for development at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, is among 19 Black leaders in college fundraising who are circulating the pledge.

“Our intention was to go beyond the talk,” Nyoni says. “What happens after the outrage?”

Plus: Eden talks to Rahsaan Harris, CEO of the Citizens Committee for New York City, about the best ways for nonprofits to tackle race equity at their own organizations.

How the Pandemic Could Change Philanthropy

A potential model emerges from the crisis: People across the country who were frustrated by governments’ response to Covid-19 took matters into their own hands to address immediate needs for hand sanitizer, homemade masks, groceries for the elderly, and cash for struggling families.

And those grassroots networks offer a model for philanthropy, write Mohit Mookim and Rob Reich of Stanford University. They say big foundations should invest in grass-roots organizing that elevates the agendas of advocates and community residents. In this approach, they say, “there are no institutional gatekeepers, grant applications, outcome metrics — no technocratic vision of improving the world delivered from the sanctum of a foundation and directed by the whims of the rich.”

Billions From Community Funds

More than $1 billion to support nonprofit coronavirus response efforts has been raised or distributed from community funds, according to a new report. What’s more, another $1 billion has been awarded from donor-advised funds at community foundations, according to the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative.

Despite this surge in grant making, nonprofits still have massive unmet demands as they respond to the Covid and economic crisis, community foundation leaders say. “The needs are just continuing, as — sadly — the virus continues,” said Dave Scullin, CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas. “I have no doubt we will have gaps over the course of the year.”

Responding to the Crisis: Advice for Grant Makers

Don’t leap from fad to fad. We’re all dealing with anxiety and uncertainty, but it shouldn’t cause grant makers to move into the latest trendy approach, writes Lisa Pilar Cowan of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

In the latest installment on her series of articles about grant-making in a time of upheaval, she worries about “real damage” that could be done to nonprofits by decisions made under stress. Her guiding principle: Give more and stay out of the way.

Philanthropy as government watchdog. Philanthropy has committed billions of dollars in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but governments worldwide have given trillions, and therein lies a largely untapped opportunity, writes Leslie Lang Tsai of the Chandler Foundation.

Grant makers can have an outsize impact by supporting efforts to improve government efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness in responding to the pandemic. She urges foundations to ask: Who is monitoring this massive tranche of government resources, and how will be lost through corruption? What can grant makers do to increase the chances that government dollars support evidence-based policies?

An Ebola Expert’s Advice on Nonprofit Stress: Let Your Staff Help

SYSTEMS CHANGE<br/>Supply chains can’t turn on a dime, says Nicolette Louissaint, executive director of Healthcare Ready. Being prepared for a crisis takes planning.
Supply chains can’t turn on a dime, says Nicolette Louissaint, executive director of Healthcare Ready. Being prepared for a crisis takes planning.

Nicolette Louissaint, executive director of Healthcare Ready, a nonprofit that was formed after Hurricane Katrina, served in the State Department to respond to Ebola. The nation’s lack of preparedness to fight Covid keeps her up at night, she told Nicole Wallace.

But so, too, does the pain of watching dedicated nonprofit employees struggle to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health while they’re trying to help those who need it the most.

And she talked about the impact on her own well-being: “Oftentimes nonprofit leaders try to take on the role of shielding their staff from all the bad things and all the stress. What I’ve had to learn is that if you let them, your staff will often take care of you — in ways that really do help to alleviate the burden.”

People on the Move: New CEOs

  • Tyra Mariani, president and chief operating officer at New America, has been appointed president of the $128 million Schultz Family Foundation. The Seattle grant maker was founded in 1996 by the billionaire and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and his wife, Sheri, who has served as its president until now.
  • Kelly Dolan, chief marketing and development officer of Ronald McDonald House Charities, will become president and CEO on December 8. She will follow Sheila Musolino, who plans to retire.
  • Ruth LaToison Ifill, CEO and founder of Aridai, a consulting firm in Washington, will now serve as interim president and CEO of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. She succeeds Madye Henson, who began leading the philanthropy group in April 2019.

See more in our Transitions column

Tired of Tiresome Online Sessions? Share Your Views in a New Survey

If you’ve ever been stuck in an online briefing and thought there has to be a better way, this survey is your chance to help design that better way. Take 10 to 15 minutes to share your experiences with web meetings, webinars, and webcasts and help identify the elements of engaging, productive, and worthwhile sessions — and which techniques and tactics to avoid. Survey results will be analyzed by the Goodman Center, which is spearheading the effort, and will be shared in a free report to all participants who request a copy. Whether you return to your workplace next week, next month, or next year, web-based meetings are going to remain a significant part of work life. Take the survey, and help make those future virtual meetings, the best they can be.

How to Shape Your Strategy at Year’s End

Join Our Webinar — Will donor fatigue set in before this year’s giving season? What kinds of messages will be appropriate, and how can you capture attention, especially if the economy and the nation are still reeling from the pandemic? Join us for a strategy session that will offer advice on how to plan for what promises to be one of the most complicated fundraising seasons in decades. You’ll learn from a veteran fundraiser who has worked at nonprofits big and small and now oversees a team that raises more than $12 million a year through annual giving, major gifts, special events and planned giving. Plus, you’ll gain insights from a veteran fundraising consultant who also served as executive director of three nonprofits about how to adapt your strategy and fundraise during a crisis.

Join us on Thursday, August 6, at 2 p.m. Eastern and get a special 40% discount off the regular rate.

New Grant Opportunities

Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities. Among the latest listings:

  • Grassroots collaboration. The Grassroots Exchange Fund is a rapid-response small-grants program designed to support networking and collaboration between grassroots social-change and environmental-justice groups. The fund is supporting community groups that need to adjust their networking, collaboration, or organizing strategies because of the pandemic. Examples include support for online meeting or online organizing technology and training, language translation and interpretation, emergency stipends for organizers and grassroots leaders, and personal protective equipment or other supplies to enable safer in-person meetings. Requests will be reviewed twice monthly through November.
  • Healthy children. The Cigna Foundation supports efforts to address gaps in delivering food and nutritional education to children in school and elsewhere. It also provides grants to foster collaboration between school administrators, teachers, clinicians, and local and national nonprofits to address mental-health and emotional well-being challenges for children. The application deadline for both grant programs is September 30.