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

April 17, 2021

From: Stacy Palmer

Subject: Nonprofit Push on Biden Plan; Preventing Gun Violence; Vartan Gregorian Has Died

Stop racism and raise your voice

Good Morning.

If you’ve been ignoring the discussion about infrastructure legislation in Washington, you might want to rethink that: Nonprofits are advocating — successfully in many cases — for their priorities to become part of President Biden’s next big legislative push. Now they are seeking even more.

Already, priorities that would help the people nonprofits serve have been included in Biden’s $2 trillion plan, such as improvements for transportation, health care, and community care of the elderly.

But now nonprofits hope the next phase of the Biden plan will offer grants to help nonprofits avoid layoffs and improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. What’s more, they are seeking to make permanent the charitable deduction for people who don’t itemize on their taxes.

They’re also pressing for a permanent White House office dedicated to working with nonprofits and responding to their needs.

A sign that the advocacy has a chance to make a difference: Nonprofits say the Biden administration has reached out to them already. Charitable institutions are seen by the White House as “not just implementers,” says Dan Cardinali, CEO of Independent Sector. “They can also be valuable partners in designing smart policies.”

And in a week when the national focus is on intersecting crises of guns and race, we offer two opinion pieces that will help you think more deeply about what can be done to make a difference.

Jen Pauliukonis, head of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, urges philanthropy to put more focus on state and local groups. “American history is full of examples of social change that began in statehouses and made their way into federal law,” she writes. “Gun-violence prevention groups have adopted a similar approach with the backing of a small and dedicated group of grant makers. But now is the time for the larger world of philanthropy to put its full force behind building power in states.

And Vanessa Daniel, founder of the Groundswell Fund, and Edgar Villanueva, principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital, urge white people in philanthropy to do more to achieve racial justice. “Inviting people of color into structures in which we are accountable not to our own communities but to white millionaires and billionaires who have the power to hire and fire, to ‘take our ideas under advisement,’ is not an invitation to share power,” they write. “Real power comes from appointing people of color into top roles, including by creating new roles or encouraging some leaders to step down and step aside.” Plus they offer a valuable resource: a new discussion guide that grant makers can use to spark conversation about meaningful action.

Also notable this week: Vartan Gregorian, who has served as head of the Carnegie Corporation of New York since 1997, died on Friday at age 87. Stanley Katz, a Princeton University scholar, called Gregorian the “the senior statesperson of philanthropy in the United States” and the last of an old guard of foundation leaders.”

Gregorian was not just a grant maker: He was a prodigious fundraiser, especially in his previous roles leading the New York Public Library and Brown University. He used to joke that he had his palms open for money so much that wealthy people expressed surprise when they saw the back of his hand.

Here’s What Else You Need to Know

The successful effort to secure the right for gay people to marry has become a blueprint for grant makers and activists trying to expand LGBTQ rights. Their most immediate target, reports Jim Rendon: a House-passed bill that would extend civil-rights protections to LGBTQ people across the country and nullify numerous state efforts to restrict those rights. An essential ingredient for success, says Cathy Cha, CEO of the Haas Fund, is collaboration. “The coming together of ideas and money in concert with movement leaders has been a bit of a culture for LGBT funders that I think many other sectors could learn from.”

More than 60 foundation leaders and other big names in philanthropy joined with business executives, scholars, and celebrities to protest efforts in several states to restrict voting rights. A two-page ad with the headline “We Stand for Democracy” published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal decried “measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot.” Among those who signed: Fay Twersky, president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation; Tonya Allen, president of the McKnight Foundation; Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments; and Tricia and Jeff Raikes, founders of the Raikes Foundation. “We’re not doing this to take any side other than the side of the people and the fact that they have a right to participate in the democratic process,” La June Montgomery Tabron, CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, told Alex Daniels.

TikTok, which has taken off in popularity during the pandemic, offers a potential new way for charities to start cultivating young people to become donors and advocates. Last April, TikTok launched a donation “sticker” similar to the one Instagram rolled out in 2019. It currently supports about 80 vetted charities, with more joining each month. Among the organizations that have successfully raised money and attention on TikTok, reports Emily Haynes: The CDC Foundation, a nonprofit established by Congress to help fund the national public-health agency, which arranged livestreams about the charity’s “health heroes.” TikTok made introductions to influencers who promoted the events and appealed for donations. Brett Peters, who oversees TikTok’s philanthropy partnerships, says the strength of the platform for nonprofits is that they “can find volunteers or evangelists of your work to talk about why that work is so important to them or how it’s affected their lives.”

And in news about the Chronicle this week, we were delighted to welcome a new top editor to our staff. Sundra Hominik, former senior editor for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Baltimore Sun, is our new partnerships editor. She’ll be working closely on our collaboration with the Associated Press and other news outlets on journalism that better informs the public about philanthropy.

Plus, join Stacy Palmer on Wednesday at noon Eastern when she will be the featured guest at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s “perspectives on philanthropy” series.

Replenish and recharge this 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.)

Scammers have been sending out emails that pretend to announce grants from MacKenzie Scott but really aim to bilk recipients. Scott’s grants have come out of the blue, and at least some have been announced by email. The fraudsters say they are from the “MacKenzie Bezos-Scott foundation” and claim to need a processing fee to send the money. (CBS News)

The Boy Scouts of America has gone back to the drawing board to devise a plan to emerge from bankruptcy and settle thousands of sexual-abuse claims. The organization is negotiating the conflicting demands of claimants, its insurance companies, and its local councils. Its new proposal is similar to one already rejected by the other parties in creating a victims trust — to which local councils and local troop sponsors would make a “substantial contribution” in exchange for a release from further liability. A committee that acts as a fiduciary for the victims values the roughly 84,000 sexual-abuse claims at about $103 billion or more. (Associated Press)

Meal providers for seniors will soon get an unprecedented infusion of federal cash after a catastrophic pandemic year. For the past two decades, federal funding for services such as Meals on Wheels has dropped by 8 percent when adjusted for inflation, even as the number of Americans over 60 has grown by 63 percent. When the pandemic hit, many older people who had eaten regularly at senior centers were isolated at home, and already-long waiting lists for meal-delivery services exploded. The Covid relief measures, especially the most recent, have included more money for the federal program that includes meal services, increasing the total funding from $907 million to $1.6 billion. (New York Times)

Community Solutions, a nonprofit that is getting a $100 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, is taking an approach to homelessness that looks beyond building more affordable housing. In a departure from programs that help people who, for instance, may have been evicted for falling behind on the rent, the organization seeks to help those most vulnerable to chronic homelessness, often veterans or those with mental illnesses. Community Solutions’ work is heavy on analysis, and it favors existing communities that are more likely to be near the services its clients need over new housing developments. (Fast Company)

New Grant Opportunities

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

  • Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Communities Fellowship, administered by MIT Solve, is providing Native innovators with the support and resources they need to advance work that increases access to community wealth, including through access to new economic sectors and diverse forms of capital; supports culturally grounded K-16 education, including language, cultural revitalization, and nontraditional learners; provides greater access to healthy and sovereign food, sustainable energy, and safe water; or improves health-care access and outcomes, including for tele-health, health systems infrastructure, and availability of traditional and Western medicines. A $10,000 grant will be provided to each selected fellow. The deadline for submitting solutions is June 1.
  • Mental health. The American Psychiatric Association Foundation provides grants of up to $5,000 to medical schools for mental-health and substance-use disorder projects that are created and managed by medical students, particularly projects that serve poor people of color. Funded projects can be conducted in partnership with community agencies or in conjunction with ongoing medical-school outreach activities. The application deadline is May 31.
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.
Dan joined the Chronicle of Philanthropy in 2014. He previously was managing editor of Bloomberg Government. He also worked as a reporter and editor at Congressional Quarterly.