News and Insights

Foundations Forge Ahead: DEI and Investing

11/26/2018

Rosalie Sheehy Cates | Behind every great foundation is… a lot of money. We know those funds have to be invested to generate returns that pay for grants and operations. But can the money at the heart of the foundation business model be responsive to a foundation’s important values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)? The answer to this question is yes. You can read all about it our new report that includes interviews with executives at eight large foundations that have embraced organization-wide DEI efforts. more »

My Journey to Philanthropy Northwest

04/04/2017

Anbar Mahar Sheikh, Research Analyst | How does a Southern California native end up moving to Seattle during the rainiest winter on record? In my national search, I found that Seattle held exactly what I was looking for: a thriving community of nonprofits and foundations. Specifically, I found my calling when Philanthropy Northwest opened the research analyst position for The Giving Practice, its national consulting team. So much so, that my husband and I packed our bags from Dallas, Texas — where we had been living for the last few years — and moved across the country for me to take this opportunity. Getting to Philanthropy Northwest has been a long journey in other ways, too. more »

What We Can Do About Environmental Philanthropy's White Privilege

10/24/2016

Marcelo Bonta, Momentum Fellow | Environmental philanthropy has a big problem. It’s not our lack of racial diversity, especially at the executive and trustee level. It’s not the lack of funding directed towards organizations led by people of color. It’s not the lack of funding for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, despite many foundations now talking about it. It’s not the lack of investment in established leaders of color and a professional pipeline for emerging leaders of color. It’s not the underfunding of general support and capacity-building. It’s not the assumption that people of color don’t care about the environment; it’s not the lack of acknowledgement that people of color support environmental issues at higher rates than whites. It’s not the hiring of average white men instead of overqualified people of color. All those are simply the byproducts of the big problem: white privilege. And until environmental philanthropy acknowledges and successfully addresses its white privilege, sadly, our planet will continue to suffer. more »

Swimming With the Funders

10/11/2016

Kesley Potdevin, Momentum Fellow | “Hi! I’m a member of Glacier Swim Club. I’m collecting pledges for our annual Aqualaps fundraiser. This year, I’m swimming 200 laps. You can make a lump sum or pledge a certain amount per lap to support the team. If you pledge 1 cent a lap, you'll donate $2, if you pledge 5 cents a lap, you'll donate $10, if you pledge 10 cents a lap, you'll donate $20.” A few weeks ago, this fundraising spiel suddenly popped back into head after a 12-year absence. I had just accepted a position as a program associate of grants and impact at The Alaska Community Foundation after two years at Rasmuson Foundation, most recently as one of Philanthropy Northwest's Momentum Fellows. While I knew aspects of my job would be similar — helping disperse grant money around Alaska — the process would be dramatically different as I shifted from a private foundation to a community one. But it turns out that all those years of fundraising for my youth swim team had sneakily taught me about nonprofits, long before I knew anything about grants strategies and governance structures. more »

Why Philanthropy Needs Community Organizers

08/25/2016

Garland Yates, Community Democracy Workshop | At Community Democracy Workshop, we work with residents to put them in more powerful positions to help change their communities. With institutional stakeholders, this community democracy approach might be unsettling, but we have to help them feel comfortable about walking into a process that potentially is confrontational. We must concentrate on making space around the table safe. Not false or phony, but safe. Residents and representatives from institutions will need to be honest and frank with each other and address real issues, but in a productive manner. We must use our influence and role to help create that kind of environment so that our communities can have the power and capacity to see the changes they want to see. more »

Virtual Roundtable: Momentum Fellowship CEOs

07/19/2016

Our "virtual roundtable" interviews feature a group of leaders from across our network who work on a common issue area, illuminating the diversity of place-based approaches to the shared topic. We kicked this series off in February with the CEOs of five healthcare conversion foundations, then continued in March with the Pacific Northwest's seven statewide nonprofit associations, April with four arts funders, May with five rural funders, and June with four philanthropic banks. For July, we interviewed five CEOs of foundations supporting our Momentum Fellowship, a leadership program designed to expand our sector's diversity, equity and inclusion. more »

We Need to Talk About Democracy and Equity

07/13/2016

Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | Nationally and regionally, our communities are dealing with the grief, frustration and anger that results from the persistence of fear, injustice and inequity. We know these issues are complicated. We also know philanthropy has an important role to play in the creation of policies and solutions to address these challenges. Many of us have been having conversations with family, friends and colleagues about the community crises we face, but we are also hearing a strong desire from you for a place to talk more formally with others in our field. While the concepts of democracy and equity have always been part of our annual conference planning, we are now focused on creating and holding space for us to step forward together through those lenses, Under One Sky in Missoula, Montana this fall. As your learning network, we are more committed than ever to addressing the real experiences of people in our communities. We hope you will join us on this journey as we continue to create opportunities to think collectively about supporting and investing in strategies to achieve our shared vision: Northwest communities have vibrant, healthy futures the honor our past, our people and our cultures.   more »

Corporate Philanthropists Contribute to Orlando Fund

06/22/2016

Individuals, foundations and corporate philanthropists from across the country have come forward to offer donations and messages of support to the victims, survivors and families of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, Florida. The June 12 shooting claimed the lives of 49 people (not including the gunman) and left dozens more injured, predominantly LGBTQ and Latino. The OneOrlando fund now exceeds $8 million, including contributions from at least six Philanthropy Northwest corporate members: Alaska Airlines, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, KeyBank, Starbucks and Wells Fargo. more »

Catching Up With the Momentum Fellows

04/29/2016

Seven months after we first met our inaugural cohort of Momentum Fellows, a group of emerging leaders working to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy, we continue to be blown away by their insights on our blog and in the field. Leaders at their host foundations — Marguerite Casey Foundation, Northwest Health Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation, Pride Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation — have also expressed great excitement with this work, which developed out of our first CEO cohort on diversity, equity and inclusion. Before their April meeting at Marguerite Casey Foundation, we asked each of the nine Momentum Fellows to share their thoughts on this prompt: What have you learned about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in philanthropy since becoming a Momentum Fellow — and what do you hope to learn/achieve in the rest of our time together? more »

The Art and Science of Designing Peer Learning Cohorts

04/28/2016

Sindhu Knotz, The Giving Practice | When The Giving Practice at Philanthropy Northwest partnered with the D5 Coalition in 2012 to study and report on the ways philanthropic leaders were advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, one of our most significant findings was that leaders need support from peer networks to advance this work. Four years later, we continue to witness how peer learning can be one of the most powerful ways to influence leadership and cultural change within organizations. In confidential, trust-based environments, leaders serve as co-consultants to one another, offering advice, knowledge and sympathetic ears. Again and again, we have seen leaders come together to gather the courage to make meaningful advances in policy, practice and organizational change. We use six key principles to create and facilitate these groups, particularly for cohorts designed around diversity, equity and inclusion. While much of this may read as basic facilitation strategies, we have learned that this is more of an art than a science — and it often takes a few meetings before groups begin to develop their own rhythm and cohesion. more »

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