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My NCG Birthday Wish for Philanthropy

I’ll confess – the other day it was a bit hard to get out of bed and start the day. It was the middle of the week, a pile of Zoom meetings awaited, and the covers felt especially fresh and comfy. 

As usual, the call to be relevant in momentous times pulled me into my seventeen-second commute and as the morning routine got underway, I realized that I was crossing a bit of a personal milestone – it was two years at the helm of NCG. Sometimes it’s hard to track that kind of thing in a virtual era where time has lost all meaning. Honestly, commemoration has lost a bit of its luster.  

Still, it was worth noting, as the last two years were unlike anything professionally in the 28 years that proceeded it. A global pandemic, climate crises, economic destabilization, and assaults on democratic institutions occurring during a racial reckoning will have that effect.  

That said, I am more convinced than ever that I have the right job to do. We have the right job to do at NCG. 

I could name so many things that make the job a joy; a remarkable staff, a dedicated board that has had my back from day one, nearly 220 institutions and partners who believe a better way of doing philanthropy is not only possible, but VITAL. At its heart, seven possibilities inspire me as I begin my third year of service for NCG and the sector: 

This is our moment of relevance for our sector. There has never been greater need for philanthropy to be its best self, fulfilling its potential to bridge divides, resource the brilliance of historically marginalized communities, and shifting power to visionary leaders to co-create a more free world for all of us.  

Systems work is the work. Systems aren’t broken – they are doing precisely what they were designed to do, some better than ever. If we don’t like the results, it’s up to us to reimagine the framework

We need all hands on deck. We’ve been encouraged by some of the progressive philanthropic practices we have seen (and catalyzed) since the onset of the pandemic. But there is much room for improvement and widespread adoption from our colleagues across the industry. This is truly an all-in moment.   

Democracy hangs in the balance. I trust this statement needs no further explanation. 

We are better together. We have a four-decade track record that breathes life into our network’s tagline – together for good. This is a crucial time for us to learn, experiment, adapt, advocate, invest, and commit with collective force.   

Wellness matters. I opened the year commenting on the centrality of wellness in advancing racial equity, and I remained convinced it is key to our making it through the storm.  

Our communities deserve better. More importantly, they demand better. We need to invest in the leadership that moves more power to those who need to reclaim their agency in determining their fate in this society – and some of that power needs to shift directly from philanthropy. 

My invitation to you – call it a birthday wish as I turn 2 at NCG – is to join us for the party. Hear the message, answer the call, redouble your commitment to equity and community, move resources and power where they have greatest impact. And let us know how we can best support you in that journey. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the best thing to do. And it might just make it a little easier to slip out of those covers and head to work in the morning.   

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