It’s hard to even remember the time ‘before’ – before a global pandemic rocked our nation and cities, before everyone in philanthropy was working from home, before we redefined what “essential and frontline workers” mean, and before a massive global response to systemic racism, where people of every color are standing with and proclaiming that Black Lives Matter.
During all of this, organized philanthropy had to pivot – and quickly! We’ve learned to collect information rapidly, put our priorities into practice and deepen our equity lens. Over these many months, we’ve heard repeatedly how quickly our network mobilized new grantmaking practices that moved money to nonprofits faster, with fewer restrictions and with more flexibility.
Philanthropy is poised to respond. Response means we’re doing our own homework. We’re listening, learning and hearing the voices of our communities. We are responding in the ways we can. With our resources. With our voices. With our time.
Yet, we know that in moments of great upheaval that “a response” is not enough. Black and brown leaders are inviting us to reimagine a world without police brutality; a world that values immigrants and refugees; a world wherein all people are safe; a world in which resources are prioritized for community well-being and safety. How can philanthropy reimagine our role, reimagine how we use our resources and reimagine our institutions alongside communities? This is both an internal project and an external one. It asks us to honor our interconnectedness as individuals, organizations and communities. We must harness this power to collectively reimagine our world, starting right here in the Northwest.
What follows a process of reimagination? When we allow our wildest dreams of equity, safety for all, thriving communities, accountable and responsive governments, and thriving arts and culture to run wild. We rebuild. These dual pandemics - systemic racism and COVID-19 - are prompting communities, governments and philanthropy to rethink and rebuild in a way that promotes greater equity and support for disenfranchised populations in our country, and around the world.
We’ve heard a clear message that the way we’ve been operating as a sector cannot and will not support the rebuilding of our society’s infrastructure in ways that are truly equitable. At our conference this year, we will create space to reflect on what we’ve learned from COVID-19 and the 2020 protests. We will spend some time collectively reimagining how we might show up as a sector. And we will identify tactical ways forward that center rebuilding our communities in ways that uplift solutions led by Black, Indigenous and people of color.
Our members tell us how valuable the times spent together as funder communities are – be that in state-by-state discussions or gatherings by foundation type or roles. So we will be carving out dedicated time during the conference to meet as peer groups with the communities you’ve built over the last six months.
We’ve heard the phrase, “go slow to go fast” – and this could never be truer. As we collectively awaken to the vast inequities that are now at peak visibility, we know we must be in this together. Join us for our virtual PNW20 conference, October 6-8.