Traditional approaches to philanthropy are rooted in power imbalances that reinforce closed networks of social and financial capital. These networks make equity elusive and instead perpetuate behaviors that systemically constrain access to resources for historically underrepresented communities. 

Spurred by stakeholders’ newly impassioned demand for equity, justice, and change, we now find ourselves at the precipice of a new era of philanthropy. But to fully harness the potential and possibility of this moment in our evolution, the philanthropic sector must acknowledge that the inequities of its past are inextricable from the inefficiencies of its systems — systems that, by and large, eschewed voices from the communities that philanthropy purports to serve. 

Philanthropies achieve their biggest impact when they act as the intermediary that can help empower local communities toward their own self-determination. In order to make good on the promise of this new era, leaders behind philanthropic efforts and at the top of philanthropic organizations must place the communities they serve at the very center of every aspect of their work. This briefing provides strategic guidance to funders — anchored around four imperatives — for shifting philanthropic power toward communities. 

The Four Imperatives: 

  • Show up intellectually, physically, and emotionally in the community 
  • Radically alter the way funding decisions are made
  • Invest holistically in grantees’ financial and social well-being
  • Empower communities to own their data, metrics, and reporting

Share this report