2020 Forum Virtual Conference

Alliance magazine

United Philanthropy Forum’s Virtual Conference brought together people from philanthropy associations and networks—philanthropy-serving organisations (PSOs) that play a key role in advancing, informing and supporting the field. This year organisations throughout the network highlighted their powerful work around environmental justice, building an equitable democracy, lessons from the pandemic, and movement in their racial equity efforts.

What must be sacrificed in times of crisis

Leaha Wynn, CEP

For centuries, philanthropy has aided society during times of crisis. At The Forum’s 2020 Annual Conference (virtually, this year), the ways philanthropy has mobilized to address the COVID-19 crisis was (unsurprisingly) a central theme. In the past several months, philanthropy has grappled with shifting in ways it never considered to adapt to the novel challenges presented by the pandemic.

On top of the virus, the outcry to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others has prompted dozens of U.S. cities to name racism a public health crisis. But reactions to this crisis have been different. There are statements of solidarity and commitments to learning, but commitment to action has been slower. With the understanding that racism, like COVID-19, is actively harming our communities, what can philanthropy take from the lessons learned of the pandemic response and apply to its efforts to confront and tear down racism?

Read Leaha Wynn’s full report here…

Taking action on anti-Black racism: A call for philanthropy

Alice Y. Hom, Northern California Grantmakers

These days it’s rare to leave a zoom webinar with wanting more but that’s the feeling I had with the 2o2o Forum Virtual Conference session, Taking Action on Anti-Black Racism: A Call for Philanthropy. The conversation facilitated by Susan Taylor Batten (ABFE CEO) with panelists, Pat Eng (AAPIP CEO), Kathleen Enright COF CEO) and Marcus Walton (GEO CEO) provided the space to name anti-Black racism and discuss what a few philanthropy-serving organizations are doing around the specific call for philanthropy to step in, step up, and stay in for the long haul.

What struck me the most about this plenary and the other Forum conference sessions on racial equity was the specific naming of anti-Black racism, the reference to the multiple crises of the coronavirus pandemic and the killings of Black people by the police, the on-going systemic disparities on Black and Brown communities, and the historical roots of structural racism based on enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples

Read Alice Y. Hom’s full report here…

Stop making us package and repackage racial equity and justice

Eleni Refu, NCRP

As a recent entrant to the world of PSOs after having spent some years in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, I was particularly eager to learn more about the challenges PSOs face in advancing racial equity in the sector. I hoped to come away with lessons that can inform my work at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) where I am working to connect power structures to racial equity and social justice for funders.

Of course, having the opportunity to forge meaningful connections with other like-minded people, knowing that the work on racial equity is not one that can be moved forward by any singular person or entity, was also appealing.

Read Eleni Refu’s full report here…

Systems change, equity, and the role of philanthropy serving organisations

Eddie Torres, Grantmakers in the Arts

I’m writing to share some thoughts on United Philanthropy Forum’s excellent 2020 Forum Virtual Conference, which brings together Philanthropy Serving Organisations (PSOs) to share examples of how we’re working to support, strengthen, and lead the grantmaking community.

My pre-eminent take-away comes from Monitor Institute’s presentation on their COVID-19 scenario planning for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations: Navigating uncertainties in the social sector. In the last of Monitor Institute’s four proposed scenarios for the future, a higher impact of our ongoing crises overlaps with an increase in social cooperation. In this scenario, the nation emerges with a growing recognition of the need to fundamentally change our existing systems.

Read Eddie Torres’ full report here…


Free read: Interview with David Biemesderfer

David Biemesderfer, United Philanthropy Forum.

‘You can use what influence you have and can multiply it and have a much bigger effect by working in partnership with others.’

The United Philanthropy Forum (UPF) has brought together many of the US’s infrastructure bodies in a meta-network. Does its CEO, David Biemesderfer, see a European parallel in European philanthropy body, DAFNE? He sat down with Charles Keidan at Dafne’s PEXforum2020 in Madrid to discuss the key role of philanthropy infrastructure and the development of the United Philanthropy Forum.

Read the full interview here…


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