Good morning. Grant makers and philanthropists from the left and right made an unprecedented call for stepped-up election security. Donors are also responding to the growing physical and cyber threats to the safety of people who work at progressive nonprofits. New findings show donors are planning to open their wallets for charity at year’s end while a just-released study finds “a sober disconnect” between nonprofits and foundations on the importance of general operating support. Plus, three efforts are seeking to raise more than $1 billion to help women and girls and a new kind of giving circle aims to help Latinos hit hard by the pandemic. A philanthropy scholar shows how fundraising can lead the way in fighting racism, and a CEO who has led his group through multiple mergers share the key to success. Get inspired this weekend with a look at the work done by the latest winner of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

Stacy Palmer and Dan Parks

An Election Warning — and More Grants — From Donors

With threats of voter intimidation on the rise, 115 philanthropic leaders representing a range of ideological viewpoints joined forces this week to issue a call for stepped-up election security.

The letter cites concerns over a “small but increasing number of partisans across the spectrum” who are willing to use violence to get their way and are playing on declining trust in government, writes Alex Daniels.

“These are giant warning signs for American democracy, for civil society, and for most of the issues about which philanthropy is concerned,” the letter says.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, signed the letter, as did Nicole Taylor, president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and Kathryn Murdoch, who is president of the Quadrivium Foundation and the daughter-in-law of media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

The warning call follows a surge in giving by foundations and individual donors to support peace and accuracy at the polls.

Among them: The Democracy Funders Network has created a pooled fund it will manage called the Election Integrity Fund to steer any late-in-the game charitable donations to groups including Election SOS, which supports journalists handling election coverage, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which runs a voter-protection coalition.

Even with more money flowing, nonprofits say they are still short of what they need to deal with the difficulties of getting out the vote during a pandemic, the prospect of voter intimidation, voter suppression, or violence. And the likelihood that election results will be challenged in court make the need for more support more crucial, she says.

“We haven’t closed all the gaps,” says Tanya Clay House of the State Infrastructure Fund, a group that supports groups working to increase voter participation and safeguard the vote

Attacks on Progressive Groups Draw New Security Funding

Nonprofits working on progressive causes are facing mounting worries over hate groups that have threatened to bomb offices, kill movement leaders, and release personal information about staff members. So some foundations have started providing training and money for security to their grantees.

They’re not expecting the threats to subside anytime soon, no matter the outcome of the election.

“It’s not going to go away,” says Daranee Petsod, president of Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees. “It’s going to simmer.”

The Solidaire Network, for example, will provide $2 million in funding this year to help with security. Grants ranging from $2,000 to $100,000 are used to beef up computer virus protection and provide security guards for highly visible movement leaders who have been the victims of physical threats or actual violence.

The need is so acute and so sensitive that the organization uses an encrypted application system to prevent hackers from learning the identity of applicants, says Rajasvini Bhansali, executive director of the Solidaire Network.

The RISE Together Fund, which is supported by the Proteus Fund, has provided about $500,000 during the past four years to help grantees protect themselves from physical threats and cyberthreats.

Pratik Dash, civic engagement manager at the coalition, said the threats were often indirect, but the intent was clear, with harassers saying things like, “This organization is a threat to our country, and we should take ‘em out, get rid of them.”

Good Signs for Year-End Giving

A new online survey signals strong year-end giving despite the recession.

Thirty-six percent of donors plan to give more in December than they did during that month last year, and 44 percent plan to give the same amount. Twenty percent plan to reduce their giving.

Sixty-one percent of donors who plan to give more in December have already given more in 2020 than in all of 2019.

The survey of 1,050 people who donated at least $100 in 2019 was conducted in August by McQueen Mackin & Associates, a market research firm. The survey was commissioned by the RKD Group and the Nonprofit Alliance.

The survey also found that 65 percent of people who make more than $100,000 annually plan to give more in December, compared with 37 percent of people who make $50,000 to $100,000 and 31 percent who make less than $50,000.

A “Sobering Disconnect” on General Operating Support


Although foundation leaders increasingly support the idea of providing multi-year grants for nonprofits’ general operations, relatively few do so regularly because of organizational inertia, writes Alex Daniels.

A new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy found little evidence that the “tried and true myths” about what is preventing foundations from offering multi-year general operating support were actually limiting grant makers, says Ellie Buteau, vice president for research at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. The center surveyed foundation program officers and chief executives as well as grantee leaders.

For instance, program officers often view their bosses as lukewarm on the practice, Buteau says. However, both executives and program officers say they are widely supportive of long-term general operating support, the study found.

The study cites a “sobering disconnect” between the attitudes of foundations, which are increasingly embracing multi-year general operating support as a concept, and the experience of nonprofits, which do not regularly receive such grants.

Filling a Gap in Funding for Women and Girls


Three new efforts to steer a total of more than $1 billion to women and girls have emerged after the Novo Foundation’s announcement in May that it would shutter two anti-violence and civil-rights programs that provided $170 million a year, writes Alex Daniels.

The loss was “devastating” to the gender-equality movement, says Sarah Haacke Byrd, executive director of Women Moving Millions, a campaign to encourage wealthy women to give.

Byrd’s group this month called on its more than 300 members to participate in its “Give Bold. Get Equal” campaign to raise more than $100 million by the end of 2022. Members, who already give at least $1 million over a decade to participate in Women Moving Millions, have been asked to give at least $1 million more to programs that support women and girls. Members have already committed more than $70 million to the new effort, Haacke Byrd says.

The women’s movement has gotten stronger in the past four years, says Haacke Bird, as events like the 2017 Women’s March and the #MeToo campaigns developed a new group of leaders.

“I think that there is movement readiness right now,” she says. “What’s missing is the flow of capital. The movement for gender equality remains chronically under-resourced.”

Separately, a group of Black women leaders this month created the Black Girl Freedom Fund with a goal of steering $1 billion over the next decade to efforts to help Black women and girls thrive. A third effort, the Million Girls Moonshot, has received a total of $3.3 million in grants from the STEM Next Opportunity Fund and the Intel and Mott foundations

Building a New Generation of Latino Donors


When the pandemic hit, the Latino Community Foundation and its giving circles went into overdrive, writes Maria Di Mento. The first priority was to provide immediate relief to low-income Latinos throughout the state. Beneficiaries included farmworkers, who have been hit hard by Covid-19, the resulting economic crisis, and now California’s recent wildfires.

The giving circles have given about $150,000 for Covid relief to small Latino-led charities and to the foundation’s Love Not Fear Fund, the pandemic relief fund it launched in March. The Love Not Fear Fund has so far raised more than $1.8 million and has given a total of $900,000 to 70 nonprofits. Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, chief executive of the foundation, says the goal is eventually to raise a total of $10 million for the fund.

The Latino Community Foundation’s first giving circle started in 2012. Maria Alvarez, vice president of the nonprofit Common Sense Latino, attended one of the early meetings where the giving circles idea was first discussed. She says she became a founding member of that first circle because she was attracted to the sense of community it provided and by the prospect of being able to use her professional expertise and networks to bolster small Latino-led nonprofits.

“Most Latino organizations have small budgets, and they don’t have access to the big grants and big foundations because they’re grassroots and don’t have the networks or connections,” Alvarez says.

The long-term goal for giving circles and the foundation’s other efforts is to mobilize and strengthen one of the largest ethnic groups in California and create a network of young Latino professionals who are committed to giving back and helping strengthen Latinos throughout the state.

“This is a new generation of philanthropists that we are trying to educate and cultivate,” Garcel says.

Purging Bias From Fundraising

Shattering myths about Black donors. When Black donors don’t respond to fundraising pitches, too many fundraisers interpret that silence as lack of interest and quickly move on to their reliable, mostly white donors. Instead, fundraisers should view such silence as a call to action, writes Tyrone McKinley Freeman of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

“Just as many white people are learning that the experiences of Black Americans are starkly different from their own,” he writes, “those of us at nonprofit organizations need to recognize the great variations in how our constituents experience our work and our mission. Their interactions with programs, services, performances, and curricula, for example, may not be what we intend. And when we rely on an exclusive narrative to communicate with Black donors, we risk new injury on top of old.”

Fundraisers, he writes, have the power to change things. They don’t need to wait for institutional commitments to equity to take shape. “We have the power now to engage Black donors in ways that respect their experiences and interests.” And “through these small but powerful actions, we can help create the change that this larger moment of racial reckoning is challenging all of us to build.

Ensuring appeals and other donor communications are bias-free. Too often nonprofits unintentionally convey the message that the organization is sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or racist. That’s because the honorifics, names, salutations, and acknowledgments that donor databases use to personalize appeals are often based on antiquated ideas about identity, writes Kathy Johnson Bowles of Gordian Knot Consulting.

Training everyone involved in collecting donor data and putting it to use in the best ways to avoid unconscious bias, is critical, she says.

“Realizing and accepting every constituent’s experience as valid is key to the success of your institution, Bowles writes. “How databases manage your constituents’ identities sends a loud and clear message about whether you deserve their support.

Insights on Giving, Voting, and Grant-Making Power


Persuading young Americans to vote. Young people — especially youths of color — are transforming the electorate through voter mobilization efforts in key battleground states such as Arizona, Florida, and Georgia. Despite their effectiveness, young leaders are often overlooked by philanthropy, write Alejandra Ruiz of the Youth Engagement Fund and Lori Bezahler of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation. Even donors who understand the importance of voting efforts led by youths of color aren’t ready to fund them, the authors say.

How grants can stifle criticism. Fidelity Charitable has its own grant-making arm that supports groups that seek to bolster the entire nonprofit. While that support is much-needed by those organizations, fundraising consultant Al Cantor wonders if the goal is also to squelch support for regulation of the donor-advised funds that make Fidelity the biggest nonprofit in America. Groups like the National Council of Nonprofits and Independent Sector, two of the pre-eminent public-policy organizations in the nonprofit world, have been silent or supportive of Fidelity’s policy agenda, Cantor notes. Quietly taking Fidelity’s money, then denying that the grants played any role in their policy decisions is “unconvincing, disheartening, and unacceptable,” he writes.

First Person: A CEO’s View of How to Make a Merger Succeed

The deep financial crisis that Covid and the recession are placing on many nonprofits is so serious that a lot of them are deciding whether it is time to merge.

David Dennis, who led his nonprofit youth-services group Eckerd Connects through a series of mergers that have strengthened what was once a precarious organization, discusses what made them work and where the pitfalls are. He notes that dozens of groups have approached his organization to merge, but he has turned down all that aren’t the right fit.

“Merging with another organization is like a marriage,” he says. “If you marry somebody thinking that person will complete you, you’ll be a burden to each other. But if you marry somebody who’s a whole person on their own, you’ll both thrive.”

From ‘Decade of Death’ to Jobs and New Lives

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The pandemic has added challenges to the work of Homeboy Industries, but it is still providing job training, substance-abuse assistance, and other services without furloughing any employees, Emily Haynes writes. Those efforts recently helped the organization win the $2.5 million Humanitarian Prize. The charity hopes to create more opportunities for housing and employment with the Hilton money.

New Grant Opportunities

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

Justice system. The Public Welfare Foundation supports groups working to transform the criminal and youth justice system in these categories: developing innovative approaches to overhaul youth and adult criminal justice; Black-led movement building focused on dismantling the structures that have caused generations of harm to Black people, building power among local Black community members, and advancing efforts to reinvest in communities; investing in community-based solutions that reduce overreliance on mass incarceration; and reframing the narrative and fostering greater transparency and urgency about the criminal-justice system through storytelling, journalism, etc. Letters of inquiry may be submitted throughout the year.

Racial equity. The Borealis Racial Equity to Accelerate Change Fund is providing grants for people and institutions working closely with nonprofit groups to advance their racial equity work internally and externally, working with Indigenous or rural groups, American territories, or communities in the middle of the nation. Applicants are invited to take a brief survey to be considered for an invitation to submit a proposal in January.