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"Reimagining Philanthropy: How a New Approach is Changing the Game"

Updated: Mar 24

I am fortunate to attend many collaborative meetings and events throughout my community. And I’m often inspired by the positive energy from leaders and volunteers who come together to provide thought leadership around the issues that plague us all.

A few weekends ago, I had the chance to meet with members from our business and non-profit communities as we discussed how to remove barriers to business inclusion, business growth, and plan for how both the philanthropic and business community can work together to serve our communities.

As I sat in the virtual room and listened to the conversation, it struck me that change is coming for philanthropy and its coming for businesses charitable and socially responsible giving as well.

This new generation of business leaders is seeking to challenge the way we think about philanthropy and corporate giving. The old paternal, and maternal attitudes and motivations of what to give to, who to give to, and expected outcomes were being turned on its head.

And those at the table also looked different. From the Indigenous, tribal leaders at the table, to the black women business and philanthropic leaders, and Latina corporate businessmen and women, it was clear philanthropy was changing.

What I also found interesting in this thought leader forum was the pushback on trust-based giving from those in the room. From those who look like me. The questions asked centered around how to measure social justice, inclusion, and equity in philanthropic giving.

The answer from some of us was, "trust-based philanthropy," and that it is the new way of giving.

But the pushback was and is in retrospect, understandable. According to one participant at the table, there are vague directives being given around accountability, and how to measure outcomes and identify outputs. The conversation also circled around the need to hold white power structures accountable for the patriarchal approach to philanthropy.

In other words, while there is a need to hold these long-standing philanthropic, corporate or foundational giving structures accountable for what they give to, for their measures of success and for the implied and not so implied feeling of "do what I say do with my dollars," trust-based philanthropy places philanthropies of color in a challenging position.

For philanthropies of color there is not enough funding to give out to groups that produce no outcomes, or at its worse use the funding on one-time projects that are not sustainable in the long term. Trust-based philanthropy challenges these philanthropies of color to holding their own accountable for these limited funds. And while trust-based giving can help stand up small non-profit's operational capacity, I heard in this meeting the need for longer term sustainable solutions to help these organizations continue to grow.

The issue at hand? Is trust-based philanthropy beneficial for both communities of color AND philanthropies of color?

I left the meeting with three thought provoking ideas for the future of philanthropy and giving from the heart:

1. Younger philanthropists are moved by their belief in their own ability to be a force for good in the world, and their desire to make social change core to how they live their lives.

2. Donors of color have a higher expectation around outcomes. While they want to do good, they don't want to sit back and wait for change to come. They grew up under President Barack Obama and believe in "We are the change we are waiting for."

3. Money isn't what is always needed. Time, talent and volunteering to be on the ground in community is often more important.

What I heard overwhelmingly from these business, non-profit and philanthropic leaders of the future is that they have a responsibility to give back, but to give back from a different lens. And more often than not, the lens of lived experience.


Want to read more about how philanthropy is changing? Read the article, Promise and Peril: Philanthropy at the Precipice -


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Focusing on domestic policy specifically, our institute will provide a global worldview perspective for black and brown women from the diaspora living in America today.  

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Prayer for the Week

Dear God,

Let our words this week be infused with the power of your truth and wisdom as you light a path for us to a life of generosity and abundance. Let your presence be clear in our conversations, as we learn to live a life rooted in faith, generosity and the principles of your generous giving. 

"Inspiring Humans...Changing Communities."

"And So It Goes..." is a weekly blog post. We welcome the voices of all people. Are you interested in writing for us? Let us know.

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