Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

June 26, 2013

Building a movement to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy

Special to Philanthropy Journal

Kelly Brown

D5 is a coalition of organizations committed to making philanthropy more diverse, inclusive and equitable in its practices. But we are more than just that. We are a movement of dedicated people. And we are taking action.

As demonstrated in D5’s State of Work 2013 report, our movement continues to grow, as more people—from foundations large and small, individual donors, regional and national associations, and organizations that focus on diverse communities—recognize that advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy is critical for achieving meaningful impact. The new voices and ideas they bring to the table help to strengthen our work—by asking new questions, suggesting alternative approaches and bringing fresh enthusiasm to striving for a goal that many of us have been working towards for decades.

It is important to challenge each other to tackle tough questions and to inspire each other to take the next steps. As we keep expanding beyond our original core of foundations and philanthropic infrastructure groups, we must recognize the progress we’ve made, while doing the hard work of reaching consensus on strategies for increasing diversity, equity and inclusion.

As a movement, we have a mandate—and an exciting opportunity—to pause at regular intervals and reflect on our progress. That’s been the purpose of the State of the Work reports dating back to the first major D5 publication in 2011. Once a year we show how this movement is unfolding and share the lessons learned from the successes and setbacks along the way. These lessons can help all of us who are interested in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion determine the first step (or the next step) that is right for our organizations.

This year’s report profiles a variety of foundations who have taken action, so that we can all learn from our peers in the field. The featured learning profiles were drawn from a deeper analysis of the best policies and practices. They reflect the growing range of institutions that engage diversity and inclusion as an essential component of excellence and effectiveness. And, they answer the all-important question that many people ask when they hear our big goal:  “Where do I start?”

The profiles highlight the urgency of action. D5 is working with our partners to build collective will for increased diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy. We plan to remain a source of information and guidance by continuing to raise awareness and providing tools and resources for people who are ready to take action.

But the success of this movement ultimately depends on all of you. To increase the impact and relevance of our field, more and more individuals must take on this work in their organizations. We all know that a report, after all, is just that: a report on our collective progress—which we hope will provide inspiration and ideas. But it’s not the “work” itself.

This is hard work. But it is a vital effort, and together we are making progress. Regardless of whether this cause is new or familiar to you, I would urge you to reach out to others—the Joint Affinity Groups, your regional association, the Council on Foundations or population-focused funds—to share what you’re learning and to strengthen the community of people who have come together with common purpose.

Our collective action on diversity, equity, and inclusion put us on a path toward greater impact in advancing the common good. We hope you will join us in this movement to strengthen philanthropy.

Kelly Brown is the director of D5 Coalition, a five-year effort to increase diversity in philanthropy. The 2013 State of the Work profiles the many leaders across the country who are taking important steps toward diversity and inclusion. Featuring insights from executives of the American Express Foundation, the Baltimore Community Foundation, Access Strategies Fund, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Capek Consulting, Russell Family Foundation, and FSG, the report lays the groundwork for a more diverse sector going forward.

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The Heat is On: Tamper with the charitable deduction and communities, needy lose

Special to Philanthropy Journal

Rev. Larry Snyder

Nonprofit organizations that depend on the generosity of donors are currently facing an urgent threat as Congress considers proposals that will upend the charitable tax deduction.

The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees have presented tax reform options to modify the charitable deduction as they consider overhauling America’s tax system. The Charitable Giving Coalition, a group of more than 60 diverse nonprofits, foundations and other charitable organizations serving communities across the nation, is working to ensure there is a clear understanding of how tampering with the charitable deduction could impact giving and hurt those who need help the most.

According to a new report issued by Giving USA, those who itemized their charitable contributions made up 81 percent of the total estimate (nearly $229 billion) for giving by individuals in 2012. If lawmakers reduce the value of the deduction, other research shows that billions in donations would be lost each year and vital services and jobs could be cut or eliminated. 

Consider the millions who depend on a network of highly effective, compassionate organizations across the country that provide jobs, economic development, food, shelter and more.

For instance, on an annual basis, Catholic Charities USA’s network of local agencies across the country raises more than $679 million of contributed income.  In fact, many rely on individual donors for more than half of their contributed income to provide funding to:
      ● Meet the needs of the more than 10 million people that come to their doors for help and hope, regardless of race or religious background.
      ● Employ nearly 66,000 and engage more than 311,000 volunteers annually.
In addition, each year, crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers run by members of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions use private donations to provide:
      ● 50 million meals.
      ● 25 million nights of lodging.
      ● 30 million articles of clothing.
      ● 20,000 graduates from addiction recovery programs.
The Salvation Army also relies on the generosity of Americans to provide food, disaster relief, assistance for the disabled and support for disadvantaged children, the elderly and the homeless.
The organization delivers assistance to:
      ● 30 million Americans in 5,000 communities with its 70,000 officers and employees and 3.3 million volunteers.
Nearly 60 percent of the $2.8 billion in donations received by The Salvation Army in the United States in 2011 came from individual donors. Some Salvation Army units receive more than 75 percent of their funding from individual donors.

Throughout America, some 1,200 United Way chapters:
     ● provide critical services for up to 52 million people.
     ● employ more than 9,300 people and help mobilize 2.87 million volunteers each year.
Conservative estimates indicate that limiting the charitable tax deduction could reduce giving by a minimum of 2.5 percent for United Way. That translates to $104 million, or 1.3 million fewer times that United Way could provide job training for an unemployed worker, home care for an elderly citizen, supportive housing for a single mother or a mentor/tutor for an at-risk youth.

Since the recession started, Jewish United Fund agencies experienced a 368 percent increase in demand for community support that served:
      ● more than 16,000 households with $13.7 million in emergency cash to pay for food, housing, healthcare and other critical needs.
Museums throughout America are sources of inspiration, jobs and economic activity:
      ● more than 52 million visitors are exposed to masterpieces, marvels and modern works and ideas each year.
      ● $2.4 billion in operating expenses for nearly 200 Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) member organizations stimulate economies and sustain jobs.
      ● more than one-third ($840 million) of the operating expenses of the AAMD’s membership network are covered by tax-deductible gifts. That’s more than the combined operating expenses of 70 AAMD member museums in the following states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
These vital sources of jobs, services and support depend on donations spurred by the charitable tax deduction. If lawmakers tamper with it, nonprofits lose their ability to provide food and shelter for the most vulnerable, support education and better health, strengthen communities, solve problems and more.

Let’s be clear, the nonprofit sector’s role in our communities is not a loophole for the rich. It is a lifeline for those who need it most. At a time when the need for crucial services is on the rise, we should be working to find ways to encourage more giving, not less.

Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, is a member of the Charitable Giving Coalition, which is dedicated to preserving the charitable giving incentive that ensures that our nation's charities receive the funds necessary to fulfill their essential philanthropic missions.

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