To our communities and all those who benefit from the work of nonprofits in America,
Our country is at a turning point, and so is the nonprofit sector. The disparate economic and social fallout from COVID-19, the murder of Black Americans at the hands of police, and the resulting widespread reckoning with racial justice have put a spotlight on many long-standing problems with philanthropy and with the way nonprofits work. We cannot work around these problems any longer, nor do we wish for things to return "to normal." Our old way of existence, and many of our sector's past practices for collaborating with funders, donors and our communities (while often well-intentioned), are broken. Instead, we wish to create a new future for the nonprofit sector, for the good of all.
As our country starts down the long road toward recovery from a tumultuous 2020, demand for our services continues to grow, resources continue to shrink, and outmoded systems and ways of thinking seem determined to keep our impact small. It has never been more challenging to run and sustain an effective nonprofit organization, but it has also never been more important, and we will rise up in the face of these challenges.
That is why we take this pledge and double down on these 10 commitments to you, the people and communities we work with. We also ask our donors, funders and those who support the sector to make a similar set of commitments to us.
Together, we can create a better future for our sector, for the good of all.
We recognize that we can do more good for our communities together than we can do alone. We will focus our efforts on making a specific contribution that only our organization can make, and when we encounter other organizations doing similar work, we commit to closely collaborating, partnering or merging with them rather than competing in an effort to maximize our collective impact.
We reaffirm that our mission, vision, and values are the compass that guides every decision we make, and we will stay focused on them no matter what sorts of crises or distractions come our way. This focus is what makes it possible for us to do work that truly makes a difference for our communities.
We continue to recognize systemic racism and widespread, long-held inequities as the root causes that make much of our work (and the work of the nonprofit sector at large) necessary. We commit to doing everything we can to create opportunity and advance equity for Black people, inidigenous people and people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, those living with disabilities, women, immigrants, and others who are often marginalized. We will take a stand for what we believe in, call out racism, inequities, and bigotry whenever and wherever we see it, and prioritize action over intention.
We will turn away donors and funders who are misaligned with our mission, vision and values, and work together with like-minded supporters to end white donor-centerism and advance equity. At the same time, we will stand up against the poor funding practices and misconceptions that keep nonprofits starved for the resources we need to do effective work for the good of our communities. This includes everything from the misconception that low overhead is the sole indicator of a successful nonprofit, to burdensome grant application and outcome reporting requirements that perpetuate inequity, to restrictions around the use of grant funds, to a lack of transparency in decision making. This will require difficult conversations with our donors and funders that we are ready and willing to have.
We refuse to make the many challenges facing our organizations and the uncertain environment in which we exist an excuse for our inability to focus on what matters most to our communities or our failure to plan proactively for the future. We will operate with a strategic plan and clear set of goals always in place, but we'll also make sure that plan remains agile and responsive to the ever-changing needs of you, the people and communities we work with.
The power to chart our organization's direction can't rest with our funders, leadership and board alone. Instead, we commit to distributing that power to you, the people and communities we work with, and as we do, amplifying the voices of people who hold marginalized identities. We will ask for and listen to your input, feedback and opinions every step of the way.
We know we cannot maximize our potential for impact until our organization is known among, respected by, and accessible to the people we exist to serve, and the donors and funders who can support us. We therefore commit to investing in our organizations' brands, marketing and fundraising at a level that corresponds with the impact we hope to make.
We recognize that our organization must have a healthy, diverse, inclusive, and fully supported team of staff and volunteers in order to advance its mission. We reject the idea that burnout, undermarket compensation and limited opportunities for advancement are "just part of working for a nonprofit," and commit to prioritizing the personal and professional wellbeing of everyone who contributes to our work.
We commit to breaking free from false metrics for nonprofit success such as overhead ratios, dollars raised or people served, and instead commit to measuring our true impact and holding ourselves accountable to you, the people and communities we 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 respond to what you, our communities, are telling us you need from us. We will share our progress (and our missteps) transparently, and make continual adjustments to the way we work, for the good of all.
For many of us, these commitments do not represent new ideas or epiphanies. They have long been central tenants of our work. But by making them clearly and explicitly, and signing our names to this pledge, we aim to leave no doubt about what we stand for or about what we expect from our colleagues at other organizations.
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 nonprofits you support so they can join us in taking this pledge, and encourage you to share its counterpart with funders and donors who are making similar commitments alongside us.
The nonprofits of America