Triggered by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, which followed countless instances of violence and injustice against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, support for the Black Lives Matter movement is rapidly growing in the US and around the world. We are filled with anger, despair, pain, and frustration at the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We are also witnessing the galvanizing of our country and we hope it is truly a historic tipping point. The urgency to come together to demand equity in law enforcement, in our justice system, and in every thread of the fabric of our society has perhaps never been stronger.
Those of us who work in philanthropy have a responsibility to take a hard look at ourselves, at our organizations, at our systems, and at how we can best support and accelerate this long-fought movement in pursuit of a more just and equitable society. For 31 years, The Philanthropic Initiative’s mission has been to encourage funders to be bold, to raise important questions, to take risks, and to always strive toward greater impact. In this moment, the challenges and opportunities for philanthropy are immense. As individuals and as a society, there is much we need to do. We need to listen more deeply and ask better questions. We need to think differently about how to support and resource the fundamental changes needed in our systems, structures, and culture. We need to hold more honest conversations and deepen funders’ understanding and action. We need to do more to engage, elevate, and shift power dynamics to those who historically have not held the power. In the words of Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, “As funders, we need to reject the impulse to put grant making rather than change making at the center of our worldview.”
Our opportunity is significant. We hope this will be the turning point – a time future generations look back on as the one in which we finally came together to help end structural racism and redress the anger and anguish so many have carried for so long.
Years ago, in his book The World We Want, TPI’s founder Peter Karoff asked what it will take to build a vision of a “beloved community”, defined by the Reverend Shirley Strong as an inclusive society based on love, justice, compassion, responsibility, shared power, and respect – a society that radically transforms individuals and restructures institutions. In Reverend Strong’s words, the “head work” is important, but “heart work” is even more important in making real change. As individuals and as a team, we at TPI are committed to doing this internal work, asking ourselves the hard questions, and searching for how we can best be part of the solution. We are committed to playing our unique role in helping to end structural racism, creating a just and equitable society, and holding ourselves and each other accountable.
We want to partner with our clients, others throughout the field of philanthropy, nonprofit leaders, those on the front lines of social justice work, and so many others to seize this moment and be agents of rapid and catalytic change.
Together we have the potential and the responsibility to support the momentum sparked by the outrage expressed by so many around the world. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle: the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” As we all pause to reflect, we know we have a lot of work to do, and we know we do not have all the answers. We invite you to reach out to us with your ideas and your questions, and to challenge us and join us as partners in this work. Now is the time.