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A Letter to Philanthropy from NCG’s New Co-CEOs

Wednesday, March 25, 2020
By Steve Barton and Phuong Quach, Acting Co-CEOs, Northern California Grantmakers

 

Three weeks ago, the two of us stepped into our new roles as acting Co-CEOs of Northern California Grantmakers. That was the same day the world learned we would need vigorous hand-washing and distance to protect each other and everyone in our community from a new rapidly spreading virus. A most unusual start in our roles. But, then again, these are most unusual times.

These first weeks have been about stretching into our new role and summoning our collective power to face the threat of this moment ​while keeping an eye on the long-term role philanthropy will have to play as the systemic impacts of the virus begin to emerge. We've stepped into this role with the same focus on equity, community, ​and leveraging the collective energy of philanthropy that has buoyed the organization for the last several years. How do we ensure we ALL have what we need to be well? What's happening to people nearest the harm? How do we best serve our philanthropic community in the months ahead? Those guiding questions continue to shape our mindset.

In the immediacy of our response to the pandemic, we have deployed the organization in two ways. We activated our incident command system—an internal and external series of protocols—to provide guidance and coordination to the philanthropic field. And we are sustaining our work to stem the tide of nonprofit displacement, maximize the census count, seed Full Cost funding practices across the field, ​move the work of Better Californiaprovide emergency arts loans, and dozens more of the programs we've carefully stewarded these past several years.

As always, we are centered on how to help people connect, align, and leverage the resources our community brings to the table ​in both the near and long-term. We're convening conversations among funders for coordination, strategic investment in communities, and collective funding opportunities. ​And, we are guiding funders of all stripes on strategies for deepening resilience whether through private, corporate, family, or government responses.

We can see the profound benefits of our years invested in building an open, responsive culture inside the organization. Our practices: assuming the best in people's intent, bringing curiosity to all our exchanges, offering support wherever it's needed, tending to our hearts even as our minds are fully occupied—all these keep us connected to each other and to our sense of purpose.

We are keenly interested in connecting, coordinating, and convening conversations between funders on how to most effectively use every available resource, including our advocacy voice.

To that end, we've just added a public policy hub to our Covid-19 response site. With so much at stake, we are taking action and invite you to use your influence in this important way.

This is a time to live up to our value of equity and ideal of justice for all. In this moment, we know we can help bring about the robust public response our community deserves. We will continue to provide in-depth programming, coordination, ​and advocacy to marshal the best philanthropy can offer to this trying time.

From our home-offices, sending warmth and connection,

Steve and Phuong