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From: Stacy Palmer
Subject: Bank Crisis and Nonprofits; Leader Who Faced Alleged Bias by Board Starts New Racial-Justice Group
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If you attended a meeting of nonprofit leaders in recent days, you might have noticed a lot of them were exhausted from spending the past weekend making sure their bank deposits were safe. And then they spent work days this week with at least one eye on news about the financial health of their lenders.
We asked Drew Lindsay to find out how worried nonprofits should be — and what steps they should take. His verdict: So far the crisis is limited, but many people are worried about the possible ripple effect of the crisis.
“This is a systemic disruption, and it will most certainly have an impact on our industry and nonprofits generally,” Christina Travers, chief financial officer of LISC, a national community-development organization, told Drew.
Regional banks, like those that have suffered setbacks in recent days, are often key lenders for small and midsize local organizations, which sometimes receive favorable loan rates.
Nonprofits should not reflexively move their money from those institutions to major national banks, advised Kate Barr, CEO of Propel Nonprofits, a community-development finance organization and a former bank executive.
“One of the benefits that many nonprofits have working with a smaller regional bank is the relationship,” said Barr. Nonprofit leaders can get to know their bankers personally, she said. “When you get into small, rural towns, it’s often the president of the bank that you know.”
Regional banks are not just lenders. They are often grant makers that support nonprofits in their communities — and that giving might be affected if financial woes continue.
“Things that are often considered discretionary expenditures will be under very close review or curtailed altogether,” said Randell Leach, CEO of Beneficial State Bank, an Oakland, Calif., community bank and B Corporation founded by philanthropists Kat Taylor and Tom Steyer. “That’s potential fallout for nonprofits.”
Here’s what else you need to know:
A leader of color who left a racial-justice group, frustrated by low pay and alleged racist behavior by board members, is starting a new nonprofit with a similar mission — and hiring the entire program staff who resigned in solidarity with her.
Anne Price, who stepped down as president of the Insight Center for Community and Economic Development, is co-founding the Maven Collaborative with Jhumpa Bhattacharya, former vice president of programs at the center, who also resigned in solidarity, reports Jim Rendon. The organization, which aims to reduce the racial wealth gap by focusing on Black women, has raised $2 million, including a $200,000 no-strings grant from PolicyLink, a research and advocacy group focused on economic equity.
“Black leaders have to have the freedom to think and do. That’s why we gave her the unrestricted investment,” Michael McAfee, CEO of PolicyLink, told Jim. “We have to be able to think and do the same way white leaders are able to. Without that, you don’t get the best of us in the field.”
As coal production has declined in the United States, a nonprofit called Just Transitions has helped local nonprofits in economically distressed coal communities gain access to $360 million in government and private funds for programs to shift their economies away from coal.
In West Virginia, for example, it aided an effort to turn coal mines into greenhouses that produce fresh food for diabetes patients and another that expanded broadband access, which opened up the prospects of remote job opportunities and distance learning, writes Sono Motoyama.
Just Transitions raises $5 million a year from grant makers that fund a wide range of missions — clean energy, economic opportunity, economic mobility, justice, and equity. Then it uses those dollars both to make grants and to run its own programs — a strategy borrowed from the Rockefeller Family Fund.
It finds local groups with practical ideas to stimulate economic activity, helps them through the maze of applying for state and federal grants, and when they are successful, it helps them expand their work and share their lessons with others across the country.
Just Transitions was born of the idea that philanthropy wasn’t doing enough to help local groups deal with the economic distress that results from shuttered coal mines and plants, Heidi Binko, the group’s executive director, told Sono.
“Climate funders were thinking about reducing emissions, and they were thinking about how to close coal plants,” Binko told Sono. “But what climate funders were not really thinking about is what’s going to happen to these communities from an economic perspective.”
The public’s diminishing trust in science — which declined further during the pandemic — threatens to erode private and public funding and make scientific careers seem undesirable. But philanthropy can help reverse that trend (opinion).
Confidence in science has dropped among Republicans and Democrats alike and has been historically low among Black Americans, Native Americans, and women, all of whom have faced biases in scientific algorithms, research, and care, write Sam Gill of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Elizabeth Christopherson of the Rita Allen Foundation.
Grant makers can work to ensure more diversity among scientists to uncover biases and see that studies reflect all of society. And they can support efforts of social scientists to work with nonprofits and community members to help plan and lead research projects.
“To create lasting public confidence in science, grant makers must help address the sources of mistrust, including the lack of diverse perspectives and connection to the communities science seeks to serve,” they write.
A New Idea: Why Community Stewards Matter
If you want to start your weekend learning about an innovative and effective approach to revitalizing communities, start with this essay by Bobby Milstein, an official at the Rippel Foundation, in Wisconsin. He describes the fund’s investments in a small group of local volunteers who see themselves and others as shared stewards of the community known as the Fox Cities.
“These are people and organizations who exist in every city and town in America: The health worker who organizes winter-coat drives,” he writes. “The teacher who advocates for trans and nonbinary students. And the local policymaker who pushes for changes in housing regulations that produce better, healthier living conditions.”
We hope you have a restful weekend.
— Marilyn Dickey and Stacy Palmer
More News, Advice, and Opinion
Growth of Organizations That Advance the Work of All Nonprofits Poses Challenges, Research FindsLack of funding stymies innovation for these groups, and the lack of any way to evaluate the quality of services provided means nonprofits often face tough choices when seeking help for training, advocacy, and other needs, according to scholars at the Urban Institute.
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Commits $250 Million to Establish Chicago BiohubAlso, the Lowe’s Foundation will give $50 million to develop a pipeline of contractors and tradespeople over the next five years, and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum has received $38 million in grants from companies and foundations.
How One University Used Data to Eliminate ‘Zombie Proposals’ and Improve Big-Gift FundraisingAmong the insights: The longer it took to close a proposal, the less chance for its success, but other factors played a role, too.
Scientist Leaves $30 Million to University of Mary Washington to Back Undergraduate ResearchPlus, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation landed $10 million to expand mental-health services for U.S. Olympic team athletes, and the Curtis Institute of Music received $10 million to bring renowned chamber-music groups to the school to teach and coach Curtis students.
Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum Names First DirectorAlso, a pediatric hematologist oncologist will take the helm of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in May, and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation will install a new CEO this summer.
The Face of Philanthropy
The Home Depot Foundation Aims to Help Build Careers in ConstructionThe grant maker is committing $50 million over 10 years to train more people for well-paying, secure jobs in the skilled trades — with a focus on women and people of color.
WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE
The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is roiling nonprofits as well as the scientific and technological start-ups that did business with it. (Boston Globe and San Francisco Standard).
The bank failure is part of a shifting landscape giving major nonprofit investors more leverage to demand environmental, social, and corporate-governance goals from the venture capitalists taking their money. (Semafor)
The National Audubon Society’s Board of Directors has voted to keep the conservation group’s name, despite its links to a slaveholder and white supremacist. (New York Times)x
Faced with a barrage of right-wing attacks, workers at a nonprofit helping young LGBTQ people in crisis say they need more support and are seeking to unionize. (Vice)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s takeover of a small liberal-arts college has put about $29 million in donations to the institution at risk. (USA Today)
A nonprofit in Baltimore is struggling to buy rundown houses from investors to fix them up and sell them at a discount to local residents. (Baltimore Sun)
Crushed beneath skyrocketing demand, an Illinois program is failing the suicidal children it was set up to help, evidence suggests. (WBEZ Chicago)
The activist who shepherded in the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority is steering an ambitious project to roll back liberal influence in other areas of American life. (ProPublica)
Opinion: Companies’ donations to a controversial police training campus outside Atlanta undermine public accountability and their own recent, loud commitments to racial justice. (Forbes)
NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities.
Domestic violence. The Department of Justice supports shelter and transitional housing services to victims of domestic violence and their companion animals. The objectives are to increase the number of shelter beds and transitional housing options and to provide training to local stakeholders on the link between domestic violence and the abuse and neglect of companion animals, the needs of victims of domestic violence, and more. Applications are due to grants.gov by April 10, 2023. The JustGrants deadline is April 17, 2023.
STEM equity. MIT Solve and Tiger Global Impact Ventures seeks innovative solutions that address barriers and unlock the untapped potential of girls and women in STEM across the country. Applications will close June 2.
Today: Using Data to Improve Online FundraisingDigital fundraisers can gain all sorts of insights from data about online campaigns. Whether its testing subject lines or social posts, analyzing email or newsletter open rates to see which messages resonate with supporters, or tracking people’s online engagement with your organization — data can take digital fundraising from good to great. Join us today, Tuesday, March 28, at 2 p.m. Eastern to learn from your peers how to make the most of digital data, even without a big budget. Sign up now.