To the nonprofits of America,
Our country is at a turning point, and so is philanthropy. The disparate economic and social fallout from COVID-19 and the widespread reckoning with racial justice have put a spotlight on many problems that have long plagued our country and that have implications on the systems we live with, including nonprofit-funder relationships. We cannot ignore these problems any longer. We as funders and donors must recognize the role we have played (unintentional as it may have been) in perpetuating them. We do not wish for things to return "to normal." Instead, we commit to doing our part to create a new future for the nonprofit sector, for the good of all.
We solidify that commitment through this pledge to you, the nonprofits we partner with and acknowledge you are making your own set of commitments to your communities alongside us.
Together, we can create a better future for our sector, for the good of all.
We will encourage you to collaborate, not compete.
We recognize that nonprofits can do more good for their communities when they work together. We will discontinue any practices that incentivize competition between your organizations, and instead focus on enhancing the effectiveness of our sector as a whole. We will work to build bridges between the organizations we fund and those doing complementary work.
We know the most effective nonprofits are those that treat their missions, visions, and values as the compass that guides every decision they make. We will commit to working with you to understand how our funding can best support your work, so you can stay focused on your mission. This focus is what makes it possible for transformative change to take hold.
We recognize systemic racism and widespread, long-held inequities as the root causes that make much of the work of the nonprofit sector necessary. We commit to supporting all of our grantees in advancing equity, and will direct our funding to organizations that are creating opportunity for Black people, indigenous people and people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, those living with disabilities, women, immigrants and other folks who are often marginalized. We also commit to helping our partner organizations build their capacity to advance equity and racial justice. We will take a stand for what we believe in, call out racism, inequities and bigotry whenever and wherever we see them, end white donor-centerism and prioritize action over intention in our own organizations and among our grantees.
We will be intentional about having conversations with our nonprofit partners about what they and the communities they serve need most to be successful, and focus our funding in those areas. We will share our decision-making processes with transparency, and ensure the power to drive change sits with you and your communities, not with us. We will stand up against the misconception that low overhead is the sole indicator of a successful nonprofit. We will look at ways we can simplify our grant application and outcome reporting requirements to ensure they do not perpetuate inequities or create unnecessary burdens for you, and we will offer unrestricted funding when possible. We have been making shifts in this direction for some time, and commit to accelerating those shifts now.
We expect each of the organizations we invest in to have a strategic plan and clear set of goals always in place, but we will not hold them to that plan at all costs. Instead, we will encourage you, our nonprofit partners, to remain agile and responsive to the ever-changing needs of the people and communities you work with, and we will build our relationships with you in a way that fosters that sort of agility.
We recognize that in the nonprofit sector, power has long been inequitably distributed away from the people and communities served by nonprofits, and toward donors and funders like us. We recognize our privilege and the role we have played in perpetuating this problem in the past. In the future, we commit to doing all we can to distribute power to the people and communities our nonprofit partners work with and to amplifying the voices of people who hold marginalized identities in the process. We will ask for and listen to your input, feedback and opinions, and those of your communities, every step of the way.
We know you cannot maximize your potential for impact until your organization is known among, respected by, and accessible to the people you exist to serve, and the donors and funders who can support you. We therefore commit to investing in the brands, marketing and fundraising of our grantees, and to treating these investments not as overhead, but as core mission support.
We recognize that your organizations must have longer-term unrestricted funds that can be allocated toward general operations and a diverse, inclusive, and fully supported team of staff. We commit to making funding decisions that prioritize the personal and professional wellbeing of everyone who contributes to the important work of the nonprofit sector, and providing them with the resources and technologies they need to do their best work.
We commit to doing away with false metrics for nonprofit success such as overhead ratios, dollars raised or people served. Instead, we will support our nonprofit partners in their quest to measure their impact in terms of social return on investment and encourage them to hold themselves accountable not to us, their funders and donors, but to the people and communities they serve.
We know our words, statements of solidarity, and even these commitments only go so far. We will therefore continually prioritize action over intention. We will show up to work every day and take meaningful steps forward to improve the way we work with nonprofits like yours, and the role we play in helping you to respond to what your communities are telling you they need most. We will share our progress (and our missteps) transparently, and make continual adjustments to the way we work together, for the good of all.
We ask you humbly to join us in this quest for a better future for the nonprofit sector, and welcome your feedback on these commitments. We also ask you to pass this letter along to other funders you work with, and encourage them to make this pledge with us.
Funders and Donors of America