“Waiting for Godot” Outdoor Performance in New Orleans

Good morning.

The impact of the health and economic crisis — and the racial reckoning that accelerated last year — are showing up in the transformation of the nation’s small nonprofits.

We learned this week from a sweeping Urban Institute study that small groups were hit much harder than big ones. Small charities were far more likely to lose out on donations from private sources as well as fees they earn from selling tickets to performances and from providing services, Dan Parks reports.

But at the same time, small nonprofits are sprouting. Michael Theis examined applications for tax-exempt status filed with the Internal Revenue Service and discovered a jump in the number of new nonprofits focused on hunger, housing, and civil rights.

Leaders of these newly incorporated charities said they decided to seek nonprofit status to better organize their responses to the challenges of the last 18 months. Many groups predated the pandemic, existing as informally organized collectives.

Not all types of charities are growing. Arts and sports groups formed at a far slower pace than in the past. And that’s probably wise because the Urban Institute study found that arts organizations were among the hardest hit by the crises of the past year. More than half suffered losses, the Urban Institute study found.

While the picture from the Urban study was gloomy, things are looking up. Donna Murray-Brown, CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, said early data suggests 2021 will end up being a brighter year for nonprofits of all sizes in her state. “It’s a better year because nonprofits better understand what it means to work in a pandemic,” she told Dan.

The Urban study shed light on a wide range of other topics. For instance, it found that organizations led by people of color faced more sluggish growth in donations than other groups.

The research will become an important benchmark because it’s now going to be repeated every year, Urban says.



The push for equity is a hot topic in the nonprofit world, but some voices are rising above the others.

Drew Lindsay, with help from Emily Haynes, profiled 15 of the people driving those conversations — an environmental leader who says “racism is killing the planet” (Hop Hopkins of the Sierra Club, pictured above), an advocate who wants to change how grant makers think about people with disabilities, a woman whose tweets about gender equity caught fire, a podcaster who shines a light on Black development professionals, and more. Meet the thinkers and doers who are challenging and inspiring the nonprofit world to bring about long-overdue change.

Plus, nonprofits that hire leaders of color without giving them the support and funds they need are setting them up to fail, says Sarah Audelo, the first woman of color to lead the Alliance for Youth Organizing, in a guest essay.

Despite drooping consumer confidence, a faltering stock market, and jobless rates rebounding very slowly, the long-term economic outlook for nonprofits is optimistic.

Stock-market indices are up 13 to 17 percent for the year, Michael Theis reports in his monthly roundup of economic indicators important to nonprofits. John List, a behavioral economist at the University of Chicago who studies giving, told Michael that last month’s economic indicators won’t have much of an effect on giving. Says List: “Our research teaches us that stock-market swoons affect overall giving much less than stock-market rallies.”

Resilience Force - Lake Charles, LA

A silver lining to the pandemic and the economic fallout that resulted has been a renewed focus on expanding the social safety net and advocating for better pay for America’s low-wage workers.

The $51 million Families and Workers Fund, created by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, Jack Dorsey, and MacKenzie Scott, among others, is pouring money into such efforts. For example, the fund is supporting an effort to create a new career option by training “resilience workers” (pictured above) to aid in recovery from natural disasters, reports Alex Daniels.

Other grant makers and donors are making direct cash payments to people in need and working to improve the delivery of public benefits. “The recovery from Covid-19 really is an opportunity to reimagine our economic and labor market systems,” says Rachel Korberg, the Families and Workers Fund’s executive director. “Today is our once-in-a-generation shot to build a more equitable economy.”

Fourth Annual Berggruen Prize Gala Celebrates 2019 Laureate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg In New York City - Inside

As you begin the weekend, get some inspiration in this piece by our Associated Press colleague Glenn Gamboa. He examined how a classical music tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (pictured above) secured the donations it needed to premiere this week. As Glenn reports, it would have been impossible if not for a bunch of lawyers in the Chicago area, a Long Island fine arts foundation, and an award-winning pianist and composer who put the deal together.

Get ahead: Sign up now for our October 21 webinar to advance your work to attract donations from Asian Americans and Native Americans and you’ll get our special early-bird discount.

We hope your weekend includes some great music — and much else you need to recharge.

Marilyn Dickey and Stacy Palmer

More News and Opinion


America’s richest people got far wealthier last year, but their giving relative to their fortunes was stagnant, according to the new Forbes 400 rankings. George Soros was the biggest giver relative to his wealth for the second year in a row. Others who were notably generous included MacKenzie Scott, Michael Bloomberg, Gordon Moore, Julian Robertson Jr., Amos Hostetter Jr., Lynn Schusterman, Ted Turner, and Denny Sanford. The laggards include Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. (Forbes)

President Biden has chosen two scholars to lead the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. (NPR)

Opinion: As calls to “decolonize” philanthropy grow louder, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has not made the changes other funds have.” That is the view of Tim Schwab, who examined 30,000 charitable grants the foundation has awarded over the past two decades and found that more than 88 percent of the donations — worth $63 billion — have gone to recipients in the wealthiest, whitest countries. (Nation)

Over the past decade, the Walton Family Foundation has pushed an effort to commodify the crisis-plagued Colorado River’s water supply, spending about $200 million on organizations, universities, and media outlets focused on the river’s conservation. (Wall Street Journal — subscription)

The CEO of a St. Paul, Minn., nonprofit described for a court this week how her organization had been caught in the middle of a legal dispute between the Bremer Trust, a major donor, on one side, and the state’s attorney general and a bank owned by the trust on the other side. (Star Tribune)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum are among the institutions that hold looted Cambodian antiquities suspected of being trafficked by an art dealer who covered his tracks in offshore trusts, according to the Pandora Papers investigation. ” (Washington Post and Hyperallergic)


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

Nutrition. America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a public-private partnership administered by Reinvestment Fund on behalf of USDA Rural Development, is offering grants of $20,000 to $200,000 and technical assistance to retail projects that seek to improve access to healthy food. Projects must plan to expand or preserve the availability of staple and perishable foods in areas with low- and moderate-income populations. If the project involves retail sales, it must accept or plan to accept benefits under the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP). Eligible applicants include nonprofits, for-profits, cooperatively owned businesses, institutions of higher education, state and local governmental agencies, and tribal governmental agencies. The deadline for letters of interest is December 7.

Civil-rights history preservation. The Historic Preservation Fund supports programs that document, interpret, and preserve sites and stories related to the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens and programs related to the struggle of all people to achieve equal rights in America. The application deadline is December 1.