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

From: Stacy Palmer and Dan Parks

Subject: Surprising Pandemic News; Legislation to Speed Up Giving; Crypto Giving Made Easy


Good morning.

This week brings very good news about the pandemic’s impact: The collapse of tens of thousands of nonprofits that experts forecast didn’t materialize, all signs suggest. It turns out that the mix of federal aid and strong foundation spending helped organizations avert the worst-case scenario.

Interviews the Chronicle conducted with nonprofit leaders nationwide found that many organizations faced financial squeezes that forced them to cut back services, lay off workers, and make other changes that harmed their ability to do their work, but very few nonprofits appear to have completely shut down.

“It’s been much more choppy sailing as opposed to devastating storms that we couldn’t weather,” Jakada Imani, CEO of the Management Center, told the Chronicle.

That perspective was backed up by the release last week of a study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy on how charities weathered the pandemic. “We were a bit surprised that they fared better than expected,” said Ellie Buteau, vice president for research.

Still, the Center for Effective Philanthropy study found some troubling news: There were widespread disparities in how nonprofits led by women were treated by foundations last year than those led by men. For example, 25 percent of women leaders said some or all of the foundations that support their organizations provided new multiyear grants, compared with 46 percent of male nonprofit leaders.

“Foundations may want to reflect on their practices and the consistency of their practices,” says Buteau.

What’s ahead next week: We’ll know a lot more about the private giving that kept many nonprofits afloat when the annual “Giving USA” report is released on Tuesday. We’ll have a full analysis about what the findings mean for the future. Plus, you can join Eden Stiffman, our fundraising editor, at a briefing on the report held by Campbell and Company and Stacy Palmer at one sponsored by CCS.

Here’s What Else You Need to Know

A bipartisan Senate bill intended to speed up distributions from donor-advised funds and foundations was introduced this week, but it is already receiving blowback. The measure proposed by Angus King of Maine and Chuck Grassley of Iowa would provide tax incentives to people with donor-advised funds to make their distributions within 15 years of putting the money in an account as well as to foundations to increase their annual distributions to at least 7 percent of assets. Kathleen Enright, CEO of the Council on Foundations, which opposes the measure, forecasts a “big pitched battle,” but Senator King is pressing ahead. He noted that money deposited tax free is supposed to help society and should be distributed in a reasonable period of time. “I don’t quite know how you oppose that.”

Plus: The question of how much money is at stake in the tax debate is a tricky one, reports Michael Theis. Read about the scholarly battle over estimates that suggest charities might have been deprived of as much as $300 billion over five years.

An increasing number of nonprofits are accepting donations in the form of cryptocurrency, and a cottage industry of players is springing up to help process the gifts. Eden Stiffman took a close look at Endaoment, one such entity that sponsors donor-advised-fund accounts. The idea is to create an easy way for people to give cryptocurrency without the hassle of selling it first and for more nonprofits to accept it as cash. “We want to demystify the process of accepting a crypto gift,” says founder Robbie Heeger. “We want to see money flowing from crypto into the hands of organizations that need it.”

MacKenzie Scott, Melinda French Gates, and other women donors are blazing new trails, but the systems of politics, power, and philanthropy are still male-dominated and rooted in inequity. That’s the view of Rena Greifinger, managing director of Maverick Collective by Population Services International, who writes in a guest essay: “We need to create opportunities for women to act and lead in their own ways. We all need to embrace a feminist approach to philanthropy.”

As you settle into your weekend reading, there’s plenty in the Chronicle to keep you busy — but we also want to recommend an article in the New Yorker that won a prestigious journalism award on Thursday. Elizabeth Alexander, head of the Mellon Foundation, wrote “The Trayvon Generation” after last summer’s racial uprisings. A year later, it is still very much worth a read.

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.)

With the unprecedented growth of the Black Lives Matter movement has also come open dissension within its ranks and debate over its purpose. (New York Times)

The furor over ProPublica’s exposé of billionaires’ tax filings once again trains a spotlight on the use of charitable donations to avoid putting money in the Treasury’s coffers. (ProPublica)

The largest gift to a public university, $550 million, has gone to Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo. (Washington Post)

The Department of Agriculture is giving food banks $1 billion to expand and revamp their operations. (Associated Press)

Allegations of misconduct against Bill Gates and Michael Larson, the Gateses’ investment manager, show why the billionaire philanthropists and their foundation merit closer scrutiny. (Nation)

New Grant Opportunities

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

Racial equity and STEM. The National Science Foundation supports projects that advance racial equity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and work-force development through research (both fundamental and applied) and practice. The program seeks proposals led by, or developed and led in authentic partnership with, individuals and communities most impacted by the inequities caused by systemic racism. Deadlines are July 13 and October 12.

Technology-based solutions. Cisco Global Impact Cash Grants support nonprofit organizations in that use internet technology to benefit individuals and communities around the world. Among the causes: programs that support technology-based solutions that improve student performance in science, technology, engineering, and math; programs that encourage employment success, entrepreneurship, and long-term self-sufficiency by providing access to skills, knowledge, and financial products and services via technology-based solutions; programs that help overcome the cycle of poverty and dependence by addressing the basic needs of underserved communities. Organizations can begin the application process at any time.

    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, 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.