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Good morning.

We’ve all watched how the crises of the past 18 months prompted grant makers to loosen restrictions on nonprofits they support. This week we learned the extent to which big donors are doing the same thing — and it’s encouraging news for all those who believe in offering charities flexibility in using the private dollars they receive.

My colleague Maria Di Mento dug into the numbers from a new study by Bank of America and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and found that at least three quarters of affluent donors said their gifts to colleges and health organizations were unrestricted. And an even bigger share — 83 percent — did the same for arts groups.

Dianne Chipps Bailey, managing director of Bank of America’s Philanthropic Solutions division, told Maria that “the pandemic exposed the uncertainty in our world in a very dramatic way and showed that giving unrestricted gifts can really empower nonprofit leaders to direct that money to what is most needed.”

The study found several other important trends:

  • Nearly 25 percent of rich households reported giving to social- and racial-justice causes last year, and 19 percent said they wanted to become more knowledgeable about supporting such groups.
  • More wealthy donors said they focused on the issues in deciding where to give rather than simply giving to an organization they had supported in the past.

Bailey says the findings show that donors are going to be less and less concerned about staying loyal to particular organizations over time and much more focused on the outcomes their gifts can bring about.

“With high-net-worth donors, if there’s not that nexus between the greatest needs of your organization’s constituents with the donor’s passions,” she says, “then be ready to hand that donor off.”


The assets of the wealthiest foundations are still managed mostly by investment firms controlled by white men.

Thirty of the largest grant makers deployed a total of about $11 billion, or 16.6 percent of their endowment investments, to firms controlled by women or people of color, according to a new study commissioned by the Knight Foundation, Alex Daniels reports. That’s little change from a similar survey released last year.

Juan Martinez, Knight’s chief financial officer, urges his peers to consider the value that diverse asset managers bring. He says those managers often put money into investments that white money managers don’t, which can add balance to an investment portfolio. What’s more, he says: Paying diverse asset managers creates wealth among finance professionals who have faced barriers to succeed.

As the job market for fundraisers heats up, more nonprofits are open to offering remote work.

As the public-health crisis stretches on, hiring freezes have largely thawed, notes Eden Stiffman. And demand for talented fundraisers is as high as ever.

“The recruiting market’s on fire right now,” says Victoria Silverman, CEO of Cook Silverman, an executive search firm that serves primarily West Coast nonprofits. “We’re seeing almost a doubling of the positions available this year.”

Development professionals have leverage right now because of the tremendous number of open positions, she says. And they don’t have to settle for just any job. “Talented fundraisers have an opportunity to choose organizations where the mission and values really resonate with them.”

A new $5 billion conservation fund promises a new approach, but it faces hurdles.

The effort involving funds from nine grant makers, including the Bezos Earth Fund, will involve Indigenous people, who have a track record of managing healthy ecosystems with vast biodiversity. But doing so on such a vast scale might require a willingness to take more risk, Jim Rendon reports.

Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, told Jim that “much of the world’s biodiversity is concentrated in places that can be difficult to work in. Some are in war zones. Some are in places with unstable governments. Some are in places that have levels of government corruption. But if we just took all of those places off the table, some of the most nature-rich places on the planet would be off-limits to philanthropy. And if that happened, we would lose some of the most incredible places on the planet.”


In this week when many of us here in Washington and around the country are watching lawmakers deliberate over spending matters focused on fixing broken roads and bridges — and other physical infrastructure — as well as investments in paid family leave, universal prekindergarten, Medicare expansion, and other items lawmakers call human infrastructure — we featured two guest essays that hope will help you gain insights into advocacy work and grant making

Katy Knight, president of the Siegel Family Endowment, says philanthropy too often focuses on “funding community-sustaining efforts and institutions, such as libraries and after-school programs.” But, she writes, the success of these projects shouldn’t only be about creating new physical structures or individual social programs but also about how well such work connects the physical, digital, and social domains.

That’s why, she says, grant makers should work with “government leaders to rebuild our crumbling physical infrastructure while tackling the greatest challenges of our time, including wealth inequality, racial injustice, and climate change.”

Meanwhile, Nat Kendall-Taylor, who heads FrameWorks, and David Alexander, founder of Leading for Kids, sampled communications materials from 25 organizations that advocate for policies and programs to help children. What they found was disturbing: The messages nonprofits and foundations use to describe the problems facing children — and the proposed solutions — may be pushing people away and making it harder to take advantage of opportunities to achieve long-sought improvements.

What would work better, they say, is to translate “collective concern for kids into a collective sense of responsibility — and action.”


Action is indeed what matters most. And if you are pressed for time and want to read just one thing to remind you of how collective action can make a difference, take a look at Nicole Wallace’s piece on the Campaign for Female Education, which just won the prestigious Hilton Humanitarian Prize for its work to educate girls in sub-Saharan Africa. Its efforts have been bolstered lately by an alumnae network that is now 178,000 women strong and is offering financial support and mentorship that is crucial, especially given the disruptions to schooling caused by the pandemic.

I hope your weekend offers plenty of time for inspiration and recharging.

Stay well.

Stacy Palmer

More News and Opinion


The director of a prestigious history course at Yale University stepped down earlier this year, citing pressure from donors over the course’s curriculum. (New York Times)

Billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs will spend $3.5 billion over the next decade to help communities most affected by climate change. (Associated Press)

International relief organization Doctors Without Borders operates with a racist, colonial mind-set that disadvantages, and even endangers, local staff in its field operations. a new investigative journalism report says. (Insider and Reveal)

The Asian American Foundation is handing out more than $1.5 million to groups across the country to help them network with one another and expand their programs. (Washington Post)

Some large university endowments enjoyed explosive growth this part year, thanks to the buoyant stock market and returns on venture-capital investments. (Wall Street Journal — subscription)


Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities.

Homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development seeks to promote a community-wide commitment to end homelessness. It supports efforts to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families, youths, and people fleeing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused by homelessness. The program also seeks to promote access to and effective use of mainstream programs by homeless individuals and families and to optimize self-sufficiency. The application deadline is November 16.

Gardens. SeedMoney offers grants and crowdfunding opportunities to nonprofits interested in starting or sustaining a food garden project. SeedMoney’s Garden Grants are awarded as part of a year-end challenge that runs from November 15 to December 15 in which participating projects have an opportunity to win grants and raise additional funds from their communities using SeedMoney’s crowdfunding tools. Grants may be used to purchase materials such as plants, seeds, raised beds, fencing, tools, sheds, greenhouses, and composting and drip irrigation systems. The application deadline is November 12.