News and Insights

Keeping Politics Out of Philanthropy

03/10/2017

At its March 2017 meeting, Philanthropy Northwest's board agreed to sign onto a statement urging national policymakers to protect the Johnson Amendment, the law prohibiting 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities. According to the Council on Foundations, if the Johnson Amendment were repealed, 501(c)(3) organizations could become entities that are given tax-deductible donations for the purpose of participating in the electoral process, and donors would be completely shielded from disclosure — hindering transparency, a core Philanthropy Northwest value. Other signatories to the letter, drafted by the Forum of Regional Association of Grantmakers, include the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, Council of Michigan Foundations, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Minnesota Council on Foundations. This position will be discussed further among Philanthropy Northwest's participants and other Forum delegations at Foundations on the Hill, March 20-22 in Washington, D.C. more »

Northwest Foundations Sign Immigration Support Statement

02/14/2017

Philanthropy Northwest is partnering with Grantmakers Committed with Immigrants and Refugees on several programs this year, including a monthly immigration policy briefing for funders. Some of our members — including Marguerite Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, Legal Foundation of Washington, Meyer Memorial Trust, Northwest Area Foundation, Northwest Health Foundation and Satterberg Foundation — have joined a growing list of funders who have signed a Joint Foundation Statement on Immigration organized by GCIR. With a membership as diverse as ours, we understand that not everyone would choose to sign this statement. As a service to our members who have requested we share timely and relevant action and policy information, however, we are making you aware of this opportunity: more »

Sharpening Our Advocacy Tools for a New Administration

02/07/2017

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | Advocacy is an important tool in philanthropy's toolbox. Are you wielding it effectively? With so many policy changes coming from the new White House, Congress and state agencies, foundations and their grantees need to be engaged more than ever. Eager to learn more, sharpen their skills and compare notes, we offered a workshop last month on how private and public foundations can support grantees’ advocacy efforts and engage in advocacy themselves. Abby Levine, director of Alliance for Justice's Bolder Advocacy initiative, provided an overview of activities that constitute advocacy and public policy work, along with examples of advocacy roles for foundations, definitions of lobbying, and rules for private vs. public foundation grants to nonprofits that engage in lobbying (including general support, specific projects and multi-year grants). more »

Standing Against Injustice

01/31/2017

Doug Stamm, Meyer Memorial Trust | Following two executive orders targeting immigrants and refugees, on Friday, Jan. 27, just a week after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bars refugees and immigrants from a number of Muslim countries from entering the United States. It’s clear we are at the beginning of a long, hard fight. What comes next? We must stand for the rights of all people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. In response, Meyer is providing grants to five community-based organizations on the front lines of ensuring the security, safety and civil rights of all people in our community. Although we currently fund these organizations, now more than ever their human and financial resources are being tested by the great work before them. And we need them to be strong in this fight. more »

Philanthropy Can & Must Support a Healthy Democracy

01/20/2017

Jesse Beason, Northwest Health Foundation | Much can be said, and indeed much is being said, about the state of our democracy. On this Inauguration Day, after the most divisive and troubling election of my lifetime, there are so many things on my mind. When it comes to fixing what ails our democracy, it is hard to know where to begin. Judging from the conversations I’ve had with peers and colleagues, philanthropy isn’t exactly sure where to begin either. But what better trusted messengers do we have than our community-based nonprofits, the very organizations that philanthropy makes investments in every day? Philanthropy can meet this call. We can go as far and as boldly as our tax status allows us — which, quite frankly, is much further than we pretend. more »

Shaping Advocacy, Rebuilding Democracy

01/12/2017

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | The beginning of January always signals a mad rush of advocacy alerts to my inbox and phone. As a former lobbyist, I recall the junior high-like atmosphere of reconnecting with your friends and frenemies during the first few days of the legislative session, refreshed from the time away and ready to consider new alliances. This January, however, is like no other. An unprecedented presidential election outcome, followed by continued confusion and rancor, has increased public appetite for activism. The speed in which these debates are happening — in person and online, 24 hours a day — requires immediate and intensive focus. Philanthropy must be involved in the short-term work of shaping policy change and the long-term work of rebuilding the institutions we use to advance the common good. more »

Grantmakers & Policymakers: Let's Talk

01/05/2017

Susan Weiss, Senior Policy Advisor | I am thrilled to be stepping in to help with the Northwest philanthropic sector's public policy efforts over the next few months, as Philanthropy Northwest's senior policy advisor. My primary roles include leading our six-state network's delegation to Foundations on the Hill in Washington, D.C. this March and supporting the work of our board's public policy committee. I believe all of us in philanthropy have a critical role to define how our investments and partnerships can inform policy decisions and ensure that policymakers fully understand the role that philanthropy plays in our states and local communities. There is an urgency for philanthropy to move sooner rather than later to engage, educate and learn — at the federal and state level — to ensure that philanthropy is an effective resource as well as voice for the needs of our communities. more »

Stepping Up to Strengthen Our Democracy

11/22/2016

Daniel Kemmis, Democracy Northwest | No matter which candidates any of us favored, from the presidential race on down the ballot, this election has cast a harsh light on the wounds and weaknesses of our democracy. This deep (and fully bipartisan) unhappiness with our political and governing institutions was never going to be cured by a single election, regardless of the outcome. While elected officials of both parties must certainly play a role in healing the deep wounds in our body politic, it is clear that they cannot do it alone. We all have to do our part — and that must include the philanthropic sector. To that end, Philanthropy Northwest is redoubling its own commitment to this work, primarily through a new initiative we’re calling Democracy Northwest. more »

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 »

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