News and Insights

The Secret Sauce of Civic Engagement Philanthropy

08/30/2016

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | Philanthropists agree: Seattle's civic health is strong. But what makes it that way, and how can we support this in other parts of our region and country? What are the conditions that support this recipe? We reflected on the elements, particularly of culture and identity, that explain this civic dynamism? At the recent meeting of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement. a national network of funders investing in civic engagement and democracy, some speakers suggested that the “secret sauce” in the Puget Sound region boils down to our traditions and culture. more »

Philanthropy Can Help Heal Our Democracy

08/11/2016

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | When Philanthropy Northwest and the Kettering Foundation published the first edition of Philanthropy and the Renewal of Democracy: Is It Time to Step Up Our Game?, the wounds and diseases afflicting our body politic were already causing concern among rising numbers of citizens, including philanthropists. Two years later, as we lurched through one of the strangest election seasons in modern American history and demand for this publication grew, our question became even more urgent. As Daniel Kemmis points out, the relationship between philanthropy and democracy is a matter of both social compact and law. Given the state of our democratic institutions, it’s become crucial to think about philanthropic activity’s place within our political framework. It is clearly time to step up our game — but in what way and how to do so without abusing our power and privilege? Philanthropy has an opportunity to choose a more constructive and optimistic path. 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 »

Creating Policy Change With Culture Change

04/05/2016

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | As a policy wonk, my conference experience over the past 20 years has not included much visual, dramatic and musical artistry. This vibrant mixture of artists, activists and academics made Citizen University’s National Conference a compelling experience. Billed as a “conference like no other,” the event drew 500 participants to Seattle last month, including Seattle Foundation as a major sponsor, focused on accelerating civic participation and answering the question, "Who Is Us?" Our national discourse has heightened and intensified our focus on race, income inequality and identity issues. Changing demographics, shifting understanding of identity and rapid economic changes all support the need for reinvigorated civic participation. But while current events were never entirely absent from the discussion, the overwhelming focus was on the horizon. more »