News and Insights

Time for Philanthropy to Step Up

11/15/2016

David Biemesderfer, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers | No matter how you voted last week, it’s clear that the election shined a light on deep divisions in our country among socioeconomic, racial, gender and generational lines, to name a few. This is a particularly troubling development for those of us working in the philanthropic sector, where our work is often focused on trying to bridge and heal divisions in our communities and reduce inequities. If there were ever a time for philanthropy to step up as a leader for our communities and our nation, the time is now. Let’s expend not just our financial capital, but also our trust capital, to come together to move our nation forward. more »

Protecting Our Communities: Philanthropy's Role in Civilian Police Oversight

11/14/2016

Natalie Camacho Mendoza, Northwest Area Foundation | Police misconduct is a social justice issue that touches every community in this country. Our philanthropy sector has a role to play in supporting communities that are struggling to address and change police conduct to create more equitable and just communities. We must ensure our communities can thrive and all people can be successful in a society where all of us have the chance to live up to our full potential. As Philanthropy Northwest's conference co-chair, 2016 ambassador and Northwest Area Foundation board member, I was asked to speak about my work in Idaho, holding Boise police accountable and ensuring they treat everyone in our community equitably and respectfully. more »

Seizing the Opportunity to Expand Our Political Discourse

11/04/2016

Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Learning Strategy Director and Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | In just a few more days, we can finally close the book on the 2016 election season. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting cycle fraught with anxiety and frustration. It would be easy to dismiss the vitriol of the current election as an episodic blip not worth understanding for the long-term work of philanthropy — but experience and common sense tell us that these emotions and currents won’t be put to rest easily after Election Day. This election season has illuminated how many Americans feel that full participation in our democracy is regulated to the privileged and powerful. We are convinced, however, that this climate has created an opening for productive dialogue, moving it further into the places where we continue to be divided as a nation. If anything, the messiness of this political environment has revealed the ways in which we are broken — creating an on-ramp to begin to think creatively and take action. more »

From Skeptics to Champions: Getting Board Members on Board with Advocacy

05/18/2016

Sheila Babb Anderson, Campion Foundation & Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | Our polarized climate may discourage nonprofits and foundation leaders from engaging in advocacy — but to solve many of the challenges we’re working on, government must be part of the solution. And for government to change laws and enact policies, we need engagement and visible support from nonprofits working on these issues. When weighing a proposal, a skeptical policymaker will wonder why leaders of organizations responsible for a related mission are sitting on the sidelines. Nonprofit board members are influential members of the community — that’s why they’re on the board in the first place! — with diverse views, backgrounds and networks. They are a critical piece of this changemaking puzzle. more »

Demystifying D.C.: What We Learned in the Other Washington

05/03/2016

Gloris Estrella, Program Associate | Every spring, philanthropic organizations from across the country converge on our nation's capital for Foundations on the Hill, a 48-hour opportunity to educate Congress and encourage national policymakers to see philanthropy as a close partners in their communities — as advocates, both for policies important to our representatives and for their constituents. This year's FOTH delegation included staff and board members from the Arctic Slope Community Foundation, Casey Family Programs, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Rasmuson Foundation and Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation. We met with U.S. senators and congressmen from five states, across party lines, and had an exclusive conversation with Doug O'Brien, White House senior policy advisor for rural affairs, and Raina Thiele, associate director of intergovernmental affairs and public engagement. Our friends at Casey Family Programs also arranged meetings for us with the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and with members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. more »

Moving Beyond the Grant: Exploring New Tools Together

03/29/2016

Amber Knox, Campion Foundation | What is your foundation's most ambitious goal, and how can you motivate others to aim as high or higher? Are you willing to invest social and reputational capital to solve critical problems — and will you accept the messiness of that process? As grantmakers, it’s easy to view us (and even to view ourselves) as a checkbook, reacting to the crises of the day. But will that mindset effect the systemic changes needed to create lasting social reform? At Campion Foundation and Campion Advocacy Fund, our answer is an emphatic "no!"  For too long, traditional philanthropy has written checks and relegated the responsibility for devising and implementing solutions to the nonprofit sector. That leaves too much leverage on the table, and too many big problems unsolved. Now philanthropists are moving beyond making grants, in search of additional strategies to advance our overall goals and mission. We deploy every tool we have available to create real and measurable good in the world. more »

On the Road for Community Democracy

03/24/2016

Peter Pennekamp and Garland Yates, Community Democracy Workshop | Garland Yates and Peter Pennekamp, Community Democracy Workshop | Democratic community action is part of America’s spirit. From 19th century New England town hall meetings to the civil rights movement and issues of today, stories and research demonstrate citizen efficacy where government, service providers and business fall short. Yet support for the engagement of democratic practices by communities, while never more needed, is ever less apparent by those in positions of power. This is all part of a larger pattern leading to growing inequality and pessimism by most Americans for their communities and our future. In response, Community Democracy Workshop, a national project of Philanthropy Northwest, has been testing and demonstrating the practices and benefits of authentic community engagement. more »

If Philanthropy Wants Change, It Must Raise Its Voice

03/22/2016

David Biemesderfer, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers | In January, I took on a new role as president and CEO of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. The Forum is the largest network serving philanthropy in America, consisting of 33 regional philanthropy-serving organizations — including Philanthropy Northwest — representing more than 5,500 foundations, corporate giving programs and partners. We leverage philanthropy's voice, bringing both deep regional roots and a broad national reach to the table. It’s not always easy to determine the best course of action in raising our voice to seek change — but organizations like Philanthropy Northwest are helping make it happen. more »

Exploring the Intersection of Philanthropy and Government

03/10/2016

Ann Saxton, Vice President | What happens when government and philanthropy intersect to create impact? I joined hundreds of executives from foundations and philanthropy networks around the country to explore this topic at the USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy’s 2016 National Leadership Forum, focused on Philanthropy & Government: Public Problem Solving at the Intersection. For two days, leaders shared lessons learned from efforts working across philanthropy, government and business, as well as strategies for building community capacity and increasing the impact of philanthropy. more »

Introducing the Catalyst Fellows

03/03/2016

Jeff Clarke, CEO | Poet William Blake wrote, "The true method of knowledge is experiment." Here at Philanthropy Northwest, we honor Blake and the countless others who have offered similar encouragement by taking initiative to conduct learning experiments. Our latest? The Catalyst Fellows, a place-based experiment in thought partnership and network learning. We’ve designed this program to begin and steward ongoing conversations about the important role that different types of capital, each integral to philanthropic strategy, play in creating and sustaining vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities. While there are many important forms of capital, we’ve chosen to begin this work by focusing on influence (advocacy), financial (impact investing) and natural (sustainability) capital. more »

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