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Some Mess

Thursday, February 9, 2017

By Jeff Malloy, COO and Treasurer, Heising-Simons Foundation, NCG Board Chair
At a recent gathering of philanthropic leaders, a colleague referred to the current times as “dynamic.” The word was carefully chosen, no doubt, to avoid negativity; to avoid taking a side; to avoid expressing a point of view. So often in philanthropy, we have taken great pains to be centrist. We go out of our way to be non-partisan. We let our dollars speak through the work of our grantees while we remain silent in the background.

Would any of us, however, characterize Northern Californians in such a manner? As a Northern Californian, when was the last time you didn’t have an opinion on an issue like reproductive rights? Clearly, the hundreds of thousands of Northern Californians who joined in the women’s marches from San Jose to Sacramento were expressing a point of view.

So, Northern California Grantmakers, whose board I now have the privilege to chair, finds itself at an inflection point. Can we support the tireless work of our members without expressing a point of view? The answer, quite simply, is no.

These times are not dynamic. Rather, as Bob Ross from the California Endowment recently wrote, “We have some mess right now.”

Therefore, we at NCG are turning to our core values. We’re taking an informed point of view, and we are standing up for the things that make this region, and all of the people who live here, worth fighting for. Things like income equality, racial equity, LGBTQ rights, safe and accessible health care, a thriving arts community, a healthy planet, a free press, and a robust democracy.

You, our members, are working with your networks of partners every day to protect those critical aspects of life and we are here to support you. NCG will continue to be a place that brings together philanthropy with nonprofits, businesses, government, and community.

Our goal is to raise our collective voice to address whatever comes our way, especially as the political environment intensifies. We’ll use our power of convening. We’ll host informative education sessions telling you how you can best engage. We’ll support and advance joint action. You’ll hear our voice in the new Philanthropy California collaborative. You’ll see us in Washington, D.C. meeting with legislators at Foundations on the Hill.

We are Northern Californians. We are grantmakers. We have a point of view.

On behalf of the Board and staff at NCG, I thank you for being part of our community and I look forward to working together in getting beyond the mess!