5 Shifts for Greater Impact
This is a time for bold vision and action. Northern California donors and institutions can align resources and propel changes that close racialized wealth gaps and establish conditions for regional vibrancy and communal well-being. Funders can start by embracing and using the innovative practices in this report. Emergent from research and distilled by experienced philanthropic practitioners working in solidarity with local communities, many of these strategies are not new. However, they have yet to be broadly adopted due to entrenched practices, status quo mindsets, and widespread inertia in the philanthropic sector. We can no longer afford inaction. We must pursue what evidence indicates as the path toward equitable recovery and shared prosperity.
Ultimately, philanthropists must rethink their approach to power, shifting from transactional to transformational giving that beneﬁts from the wisdom, voice, and experience of local communities. These 5 Shifts are meant to act as entry points for you and can be embraced and adopted one by one, in no particular order. We offer ﬁve shifts as a framework for deep-seated change:
Decisions driven by boards/trustees, often white,
wealthy, and lacking depth of understanding of
systemic racism and interlocking dynamics that sustain
the economic and social inequalities facing our region.
Decision-makers involve those closest to problems,
engage diverse communities in governance, and
apply a strong racial justice f rame of analysis/decision-
From: FOCUSED ON SYMPTOMS
Narrow, single-issue problem definitions that lead to
short-term, surface-level solutions.
TO: Focus on Systems
Holistic approach focused on underlying root causes alongside direct services.
From: INDIVIDUAL ACTION
Funders act in isolation, each following their
own (siloed) strategy and approach, with limited
understanding of the benefit of aligning their actions as
part of a complex ecosystem.
TO: COLLECTIVE ACTION
Funders collaborate to develop robust collective
strategies and approaches, actively working in concert
with those driving change in other sectors.
From: LIMITED CAPITAL INVESTMENT
The amount of philanthropic capital invested is too
small for the scale of problems and funders frequently
do not use their influence to unleash additional sources
of capital from other sectors.
TO: LEVERAGE CAPITAL INVESTMENT
Funders are realistic about the scale of the problem,
understand the catalytic and risk-capital role of
philanthropic dollars, and organize diverse capital
sources, including their endowments, resources of peer
foundations, the private sector, and government.
From: OUTDATED PRACTICES
Funders do not model the performance they expect
of their grantees; their grantmaking practices are
not trust-based and feature onerous reporting
requirements; they display a limited sense of urgency in
To: UPDATE PRACTICES
Internal funder practices center on diversity, equity, and
inclusion (DEI); funders follow trust-based and inclusive
grantmaking practices and demonstrate urgency while
deploying funds with an understanding of long-term