In this series, we take a look at the current news impacting the nonprofit sector, specifically fundraising. Our intention is not to be reactive, but to be proactive in our analysis of the news and consider how fundraising and philanthropic efforts can improve outcomes and adapt to meet the times.
In this week's roundup: Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding, Tech Billionaires Donating To Criminal Justice Reform, and the 2020 Annual Report on Philanthropy.
Leading Foundations Pledge to Give More, Hoping to Upend Philanthropy (Via New York Times)
The Ford Foundation plans to announce on Thursday that it will borrow $1 billion so that it can substantially increase the amount of money it distributes. To raise the money, the foundation — one of the country’s most well-known and oldest charitable organizations — is preparing to issue a combination of 30- and 50-year bonds, a financial maneuver common among governments and companies but extremely rare among nonprofit groups.
Analysis: Larger foundations are stepping up to bat for the entire nonprofit sector. Smaller organizations do not have the luxury of being able to rely on large endowments to survive downturns in the economy. By increasing its giving beyond the required minimum to retain tax-exempt status, some of the largest foundations in the country are sacrificing short term gains to protect the very institution of philanthropy.
Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding (Via Stanford Social Innovation Review)
Racial bias—both personal and institutional, conscious and unconscious—creeps into all parts of the philanthropic and grantmaking process. The result is that nonprofit organizations led by people of color receive less money than those led by whites, and philanthropy ends up reinforcing the very social ills it says it is trying to overcome.
Analysis: It can be easy to get caught up in the process of trying to raise as much money as possible. But it is crucial that we do not lose sight of the mission of the very organizations that reap the benefits of that philanthropy. Now more than ever, we should be listening to our donors' stories and understanding the impact their contribution will have on the community.
Tech billionaires are putting millions into criminal justice efforts as protests of police brutality and racial injustice have spread across the US. The largest announced gift yet came from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who said he was donating $3 million to a group founded by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who became the face of protests against police brutality in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem.
Analysis: Major Donors are willing to support causes they believe in, even if they have no previous high-level engagement with an organization. It is likely that other wealthy donors want to support causes dedicated to social justice, but fundraisers must not be afraid to make asks. Otherwise, their organization might miss out on a crucial gift that could support the mission and community in dramatic fashion.
Americans’ charitable giving climbed to $449.64 billion in 2019, making it one of the highest years on record and particularly notable coming on the heels of the complexity of 2018. Giving reached the largest dollar total to date in 2019, when measured in current dollars. Adjusted for inflation, it was the second highest year on record, just slightly below the all-time-high dollar amount achieved in 2017. In fact, the past three years are the three highest years ever, demonstrating that Americans prioritize generosity as a key part of their lives.
Analysis: While overall giving was up for 2019, it's become clear that we're living in a different world, only six months later. Individual giving is still the bull for the overall perspective on philanthropy. Increasing giving by individual donors, across the giving pyramid, will prove to be the strategy that saves giving -- and impact -- in 2020.
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