By Andy Carroll, Exponent Philanthropy
In our regular “Pulse” blog series, I explore trends influencing philanthropy by spotlighting articles, reports, and essays in the media. I cast a wide net, venturing beyond philanthropy and traditional topics to consider a variety of ideas, innovations, debates, and critiques. Read previous posts in the series
The model that private foundations and donors have relied on for decades to make positive impact on the world is being questioned. Economic hardship, inequality, racial discrimination, lack of social mobility, and environmental degradation are only increasing in depth and scope. And there is growing recognition that human and environmental needs that go unmet today will incur greater costs in the future.
The scope and urgency of the challenges is causing frustration, re-assessment, and soul-searching. More foundations and donors are asking themselves not only how they can alleviate problems, but how to solve them once and for all. Can funders reduce the need for philanthropy in the first place?
Many of the nation’s 1.5 million nonprofit organizations struggle constantly, lack internal capacity, and cannot sustain their critical work. Even if foundations and donors provided more funding for general operations and capacity building, can private philanthropy solve nonprofits’ financial struggles when national and state legislators continue to cut government funding—a much larger share of nonprofits’ income? Should funders be more concerned about the decline of public funding over the past decades, since the cuts undermine the effectiveness of their grantees?
(Among current stress points are budget battles in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and other states, which delay funding to nonprofits that provide critical services. In Pennsylvania recently, more than 17,000 people received no or reduced services due to the budget impasse.)