What we saw yesterday in Washington, D.C. was horrific. While the Capitol seems far from us here in Maine, we cannot sit back and say we are immune to the forces that brought us to this point. Even in our own backyard, we see the impact of mistrust in democratic institutions, hateful rhetoric, and insidious conspiracy theories. These events underscore the critical work ahead of us as individuals, Americans and funders.
Over the past year, as COVID19 has ravaged our country and the increased awareness of racial injustice has lit fires within, the power, importance and obligation of philanthropy has come to the center of conversations about community impact. These critical conversations have challenged philanthropy’s role in shaping society and supporting movements and have sought to hold philanthropy accountable.
As we look to how we can heal as a state and as a nation from the growing threat of white supremacy, we have a few thoughts on how our sector can respond: First, seek out grassroots organizations working on healing racial divisions, particularly those led by impacted communities and have a strong intersectional equity lens. Leverage relationships and proximate power to reach out to those who influence policy and hold those leaders accountable. And finally, dedicate investments in narrative change that focus on accountability, healing, and justice. These are just a few suggestions, but we invite you to share more with us as you think critically about the role of philanthropy in building and dismantling systems of oppression.
As John Lewis charged in words released upon his passing “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”
Read the thoughts of your peers here (list updating)
- Grantmakers for Effective Organization’s Threats to Democracy Demand an Emphatic Philanthropic Response
- Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Protecting Our Democracy
- Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ After an Attempted Insurrection
- ‘Our Children Are Watching': Nonprofit and Foundation Leaders Respond to Capitol Hill Violence
- The Barr Foundation's We Should Not Be Surprised
- Elmina B. Sewall Foundation's response
- Center for Effective Philanthropy's Philanthropy’s Role in a Better Future
- Hyams Foundation's Protecting Our Democracy
- Philanthropies Condemn Political Violence, Call on Leaders to Protect Democracy and Get Back to the People’s Business
- The Ford Foundation's Building the America that Never Was, Yet Still Must Be