On February 3, 2021, the Nonprofit Leadership Program and the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania co-sponsored a panel on Racial Equity and Philanthropy. The panel featured three speakers: Matt Stephenson, Founder and CEO of Austin-based nonprofit Code2College; Iimay Ho, Executive Director of the membership organization Resource Generation; and Abhishek Bhati, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University. Each speaker brought their unique perspectives about the current state of philanthropy, its complicated relationship with white supremacy, and the possibilities for a more equitable philanthropic and nonprofit space going forward. The panel was moderated by Kat Rosqueta, Founding Executive Director of the Center for High-Impact Philanthropy. Read more about the speakers at the bottom of this page.
Panelists argued that, through reflection, philanthropy can dismantle systems driven by white supremacy by adopting a racial justice lens when grantmaking. Donors and grantmaking organizations must shift from a charity-driven mindset to one built through active listening. By listening and engaging with the issues, these individuals and organizations can learn the nuances associated with systemic challenges. This prevents the practice of haphazardly giving from a sense of guilt, resulting in a disengagement from the issues at hand.
A racial justice approach to grantmaking trusts in the experience of those philanthropy aims to serve, building solutions with the community. It is critical to distribute the power to control and allocate capital by increasing unrestrictive grantmaking and diversifying an organization’s board and staff. Philanthropy’s way forward is through candid conversation, evaluating implicit bias in funding patterns, and seeding power in those most expert on the issues: member’s of the community one aims to serve. Watch a recording of that conversation here. Be on the lookout for more insightful conversations during CSIS’s 2021 Summer Workshop Series.