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A free roundup of the most important news, opinion, tools, and resources of the week. Delivered every Saturday.

April 10, 2021

From: Stacy Palmer

Subject: Diversifying Fundraising; Ford’s $1 Billion Bet; Crowdfunding Grows

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Good Morning.

This week we explored one of the most important issues facing the nonprofit world: why fundraising has struggled so mightily to diversify its ranks — and what works to set organizations on a better path.

A key to ensuring transformation is to put an end to short-term thinking, Peter Hayashida, president of the UC Riverside Foundation (shown above), told our colleague Eden Stiffman as she reported her April cover article.

“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.” He says those kinds of comments are just an excuse for leaders to "to hire more people who look like the people I already have.” 

Tycely Williams is among the leaders successfully carrying out change.

As chief development officer at America’s Promise Alliance, she has worked to build a fundraising unit from scratch remotely since the pandemic began. Today her team of three full-time fundraisers includes one woman of color. She also works with five consultants, two of whom are women of color.

The leadership team is deeply invested in the organization becoming anti-racist. Consultants are providing targeted coaching and training to senior leaders to bring equity and inclusion into decision-making processes. A staff-led DEI task force is focused on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the nonprofit’s culture and processes. Another team is working to map out an anti-racist approach throughout its alliance of partners.

On the fundraising team, the training has led to changes. Job descriptions now disclose salary ranges for all positions and include language that signals the culture Williams and other leaders aim to foster: “The successful candidate must be willing to teach and open to learn.”

Here’s What Else You Need to Know

The Ford Foundation sent a strong signal to grant makers everywhere about the importance of unrestricted support by committing another $1 billion to helping nonprofits led by women and people of color. The move comes because of the success of the first $1 billion Ford put into a program to provide general operating support and other help to strengthen and expand nonprofits. Kathy Reich, who oversees the program, said even before the pandemic, the approach was showing results — but it has even more so during the past year. While her grantees were still facing big challenges, they weren’t in hair-on-fire mode because having flexible grant money meant they had some funds in reserve and could use them to invest in new technology or whatever they needed to continue their work. “During that time, it was just a little calmer. They could breathe,” says Reich. “And, honestly, that feeling of breathing room is one of the most remarkable and consistent things that we hear from our partners.” 

While still a relatively small facet of giving, crowdfunding is gaining strength as a force in philanthropy. About 32 percent of people say they donate to a crowdfunding effort each year, and the pandemic is accelerating interest in such giving, according to a survey released this week by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, writes Emily Haynes. Fundraisers should take notice of how crowdfunding is changing giving patterns, and especially how attractive it is to donors who are young as well as people who are ethnically and racially diverse, said Una Osili of the Lilly School. “Getting in now and brushing up your own ability to use this new tool is going to be critical for many nonprofit organizations,” she said.

Philanthropy must work against anti-Asian hate by speaking up, coordinating efforts, thinking beyond Black and white, and enlarging investments in countering oppression, say two prominent foundation  leaders. Competition among disenfranchised groups over which is the most underfunded hurts all of them, write Cathy Cha of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and Robert K. Ross of the California Endowment. "It’s time to face the truth that the pie itself is not big enough and the very notion of divvying up justice among and across different populations is antithetical to what justice means."

Get ready for the week ahead: Sign up to join us on Thursday for a webinar about corporate grant seeking in the year after Covid. You’ll hear directly from Daniel Lee, head of the Levi Strauss Foundation and Julie Gherki, who leads the Walmart Foundation. They’ll be joined by José A. Quiñones, CEO of Mission Asset Fund and a MacArthur Fellow who has won significant support from corporate America.

And no matter what your role in the nonprofit world, we urge you to read Lee’s essay in the Chronicle,
Invest In and Strengthen People of Color: a Corporate Grant Maker Explains How.

We hope you have a terrific spring weekend.

Stacy Palmer and Dan Parks

More News, Advice, and Opinion
Here’s what else you’ll want to read as you catch up this weekend:

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

Here are some of the articles that attracted our attention in the past week. We provide these summaries every day in our free Philanthropy Today newsletter. (Sign up now.)

About 6 percent to 7.5 percent of those who received stimulus checks in 2020 gave away at least some of those funds, according to Census Bureau surveys. The money went to charities or family members, helping to fuel a 10.6 percent increase in charitable giving in 2020 over 2019. A GivingTuesday executive said the organization saw a "'measurable spike' in $1,200 and $2,400 donations around the time of the first stimulus checks in April 2020." (MarketWatch)

The MacArthur Foundation is giving $100 million to a nonprofit with ambitious plans to end homelessness. Community Solutions helps local governments ensure that various agencies coordinate with one another and helps local officials keep track of homeless people by name and navigate the federal bureaucracy. The approach is a shift from just getting people something to eat or a place in a shelter to finding them permanent housing. (Chicago Tribune)

The Nature Conservancy has started an internal review of its carbon-offsets program after criticism that it had helped participating corporations make misleading claims about their carbon footprints. The nonprofit sells carbon credits to major emitters that help pay for the preservation of forest lands, allowing the companies to claim that they offset their emissions. But the Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups have been selling credits for trees that are in no danger of being felled, bringing in money without meaningful forest protection. One defender of the practice said such transactions can save forests that seem safe now but might be targeted to raise cash for an organization facing an unforeseen future crisis. (Bloomberg Green)

A group of activists are trying to raise $100 million to benefit Black girls and women in the South, who are often overlooked by philanthropy. Spurred by a report that Black girls and women receive 1 percent of the billions of philanthropic dollars that go to the South, LaTosha Brown decided to create the Southern Black Girls and Women's Consortium. A co-founder of Black Voters Matter and two associated organizations, Brown is working on the project with Margo Miller, executive director of the Appalachian Community Fund; Felecia Lucky, president of Alabama's Black Belt Community Foundation; and Alice Jenkins, executive director of the Fund for Southern Communities. They have raised $10 million so far. (Grio)

The University of South Carolina's biggest donor wrote a scathing letter to the institution after it failed to acknowledge the recent death of her mother. Darla Moore, who has given more than $75 million to the university, said she was "embarrassed and humiliated" by her association with the university after it was silent on the death of her mother, Lorraine Moore. She said the university had been "the recipient of the most exceptional generosity in the history of this state by virtue of her [mother's] life" and that she regrets the "effort and resources" she has devoted. USC's business school bears Darla Moore's name. In a statement, the university expressed its "deepest condolences" to Moore. It would not comment on why it had not reached out to its benefactor earlier. (Post and Courier)

New Grant Opportunities

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

  • Digital projects. The National Endowment for the Humanities supports projects that interpret and analyze humanities content in primarily digital platforms and formats, such as websites, mobile applications and tours, interactive touch screens and kiosks, games, and virtual environments. These projects should present analysis that deepens public understanding of significant humanities ideas; incorporate sound humanities scholarship; involve humanities scholars in all phases of development and production; include appropriate digital media professionals; reach a broad public through a realistic plan for development, marketing, and distribution; create appealing digital formats for the general public; and demonstrate the capacity to sustain themselves. Optional drafts are due May 5, 2021. The application deadline is June 9.
  • Female sports. The Women's Sports Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that foster multigenerational connections in their communities through sport, fitness, and movement-based programming for girls and women. Program can focus on girls and women participating together, adult and youth mentorship, parent and family engagement, or women serving as coaches and volunteers. Grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 may be used for staff, facility rental, equipment, uniforms, and supplies directly benefiting the program. The application deadline is May 28.
Stacy Palmer has served as a top editor since the Chronicle of Philanthropy was founded in 1988 and has overseen the development of its website, Philanthropy.com. She plays a hands-on role in many Chronicle services, such as its Philanthropy Today daily newsletter and its webinar series offering professional development for people involved in fundraising, grant seeking, advocacy, marketing and social media.