The pandemic made us re-examine everything: the way we work, how we fundraise, and our relationships with funders. People depended on nonprofits more than ever. We are doing important work, yet we have to hustle for funds. Why? How did the current arrangement come to be?
Two books opened my eyes. Decolonizing Wealth, indigenous wisdom to heal divides and restore balance by Edgar Villanueva examines the source of wealth in the United States. He acknowledges the damage and pain caused by amassing wealth. He also proposes a pathway for healing. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas traces the roots of modern philanthropy. He exposes the duplicity of philanthropists and foundations that fund good work, but never address the issues caused by how they gained their wealth.
So, where do we go from here? Nonprofits need foundations. We also need to have honest relationships with our funders. We are polite, too grateful to meet them on equal footing. But if we are ever going to heal systemic inequalities, we need to heal our relationships with funders.