Philanthropy Roundtable’s Debi Ghate featured in The Economist
Philanthropy Roundtable Vice President of Strategy and Programs Debi Ghate was recently featured in The Economist, explaining how some players in the philanthropy industry focus too much on fairness and misguide major funders. To learn more about the Roundtable’s work on this topic, please visit: true-diversity.com.
Below are excerpts from The Economist’s article “The Woking Class: American Philanthropy Turns Left”:
Charitable donations are expected to be crushed by the pandemic. The opposite has happened. Fidelity Charitable, the largest US administrator of grants on behalf of donors, distributed $ 9.1 billion last year, up from $ 7.3 billion in 2019. A 2020 study of more than 250 US foundations found showed that a majority increased grants for the year, by an average of 17%.
In the midst of this welcome rise, philanthropy veers to the left. In July, the MacArthur Foundation announced it would donate $ 80 million to “fight anti-darkness, uplift indigenous peoples” and advance “ethnic justice”, including through reparations. In April, the Ford Foundation announced $ 1 billion in funding for social justice. The previous month Goldman Sachs, a bank, had trumpeted $ 100 million in grants to fight stigma against black women. The Mellon Foundation, traditionally a strong supporter of the arts and humanities, announced a “major strategic shift” last year to prioritize social justice. PolicyLink, an Oakland think tank, totaled $ 1.5 billion in racial equity grants in America last year – almost half the total for the previous nine years.
Some outfits are more blunt. One is the Miami Foundation, which is partially funded by Facebook. Its strategy advisor, Charisse Grant, says candidates of color are generally more apt to serve poor communities. If you choose whites, she says, “you don’t necessarily get the best.” She sees growing political support for this point of view. The Racial Equity Philanthropic Initiative, a publisher of Washington, DC-based grantmaking guides, writes that predominantly white organizations should be subject to “much more stringent” scrutiny than usual.
These practices have exploded over the past two years. Most large foundations now require detailed ethnicity reports, says Debi Ghate of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a nonprofit in Washington, dc. She argues that the new focus on group identity may distract from the scrutiny of the charity’s performance. Asking whether diversity is still visible (as opposed to things that cannot be seen, like sexuality or religious orientation), she adds, is now “outside the safeguards … you will be called racist”. The Philanthropy Roundtable, she says, is regularly contacted by charity professionals who say they have lost their jobs “because I don’t fit the checklist.”
Where is this heading? Naomi Schaefer Riley, philanthropy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, believes nothing is good. Ms. Ghate gives the example of a charity working with former prisoners. Although the white woman who ran the charity, who had herself been in prison, was producing results, the charity’s funder shifted the funding to other organizations run by people of color. “It’s not about community anymore: it’s a new question of what leadership looks like,” she says.
Please continue reading “American philanthropy turns to the left ”in The Economist (paying).