Rising Temperatures And Drought Conditions Intensify Water Shortage For Navajo Nation

Good morning.

This week we introduced you to Adam Fishbein, who is part of a new effort to transform philanthropy by ensuring that more people with disabilities have opportunities to join the professional class at America’s foundations.

Today that is a rarity, Alex Daniels reports: Less than 1 percent of people who work in grant making today are disabled, according to a study by the Council on Foundations.

Now with the help of a $75,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation, the nonprofit group RespectAbility is nudging foundations to hire people with disabilities and make any accommodations needed so they can perform to the best of their ability. It’s also providing a $15 an hour wage as well as training and other assistance as part of its regular fellowship program.

Fishbein, who has Tourette Syndrome and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is now working as a program associate at the Borealis Fund through the fellowship program. While his work is focused on tasks like tracking where dollars go, he hopes his presence at Borealis helps influence grant-making decisions.

“I’m not the one making decisions on grants, but I have their ear,” he says.

Here’s what else you need to know:

As fundraisers plan for the ever-important fourth quarter, when many charitable gifts are made, the outlook is cloudy. The stock market has been climbing, wages are rising, and consumers are spending, but inflation and the very contagious Delta variant offer a mixed signal about what will come next. Michael Theis has been talking to economists about what indicators nonprofits should keep an eye on, including consumer confidence, which is down 5 percent from June. Even high-income households are beginning to put off big purchases due to fears of inflation, one expert told Michael, and that could spell trouble for fundraisers focused on wealthy donors.

How going all in on impact investing has worked out for one family foundation. In late 2017, the board of the Nathan Cummings Foundation voted unanimously to put 100 percent of its portfolio into investments that earned financial as well as social and environmental returns, making it the largest foundation to put everything into impact investing. And it hasn’t looked back. Jaimie Mayer, board president and great-granddaughter of the founder, says the decision has boosted the foundation’s bottom line, but she cautions other foundations that it’s hard to find investment firms that have the capacity to do what Cummings has done and hard to find firms that are racially diverse: Only a small sliver of them have senior leaders who are Black or Latinx.

What a podcast host has learned about career development, interviewing donors, and staying grounded during a chaotic year. In the Development Brief podcast, Kathryn Van Sickle, a major-gifts officer at Columbia University, interviews fundraisers, donors, and consultants to find out what motivates them and what they have been doing to get through the pandemic. Topics have included racism in fundraising, what donors want, and what fundraisers can expect career-wise when the pandemic subsides. As the fourth season begins, Van Sickle says her podcast has at times facilitated networking as listeners have reached out to guests on the show to comment on their interview or to ask to talk to them in person. “There’s a huge hunger for networking,” she says, “because we are all isolated.” During one episode, Van Sickle even interviewed her father, a retired fundraiser who inspired her to follow in his footsteps.

Mark your calendars for next week: Alex Daniels is hosting a webinar on Thursday about how to raise money from small foundations — mostly family funds. Understanding how to work with these funds is crucial today because they have been one of the most powerful forces in supporting nonprofits throughout the crises of the past two years.

Alex will be joined by Hanh Le of the Consumer Health Foundation; Michael Moody, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University; and Marisa Stubbs, development director at Critical Exposure, a nonprofit that has raised significant funds from family foundations. Sign-up information is below.

As you start your weekend, we hope you’ll find a quick dose of inspiration as Emily Haynes tells the story of DigDeep (pictured at the top of the newsletter) and other groups that work to bring water to the Navajo Nation. That task has been made more challenging during the spread of Covid — but it is also more important than ever.

We hope the weekend gives you a chance to reflect on the important work you do every day — And that you get a chance to recharge.

Stay safe and stay well.

Marilyn Dickey and Stacy Palmer

More News and Opinion

What We’re Reading Elsewhere

Charities are reckoning with cryptocurrency as it becomes a more common vehicle for contributions. (New York Times)

Pull a thread on the conservative effort to find voting irregularities and change the way U.S. elections are held, and it could probably lead to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee. (New Yorker)

A Seattle homeless services nonprofit is asking the Supreme Court to review whether it can refuse to hire someone based on sexual orientation or identity. (Associated Press)

When a donor to the University of Mississippi journalism school made racist comments, the dean remained silent, raising the question for fundraisers: How much moral flexibility is required to raise money? (Chronicle of Higher Education)

In a CNN interview, Bill Gates called his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein “a huge mistake” and said he ended it when hoped-for philanthropic commitments didn’t materialize.” (New York Times and CNN video)

New Grant Opportunities

Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities. GrantStation is on hiatus, but we’ll share the latest listings when it returns.

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