Amidst exclaims of “where has the year gone!” and well wishes for the holiday season, the year’s end has arrived. With that, ‘tis the season for end-of-year lists. In this post, I share the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s (CEP) own end-of-year list: the top 10 most-read blog posts of 2022.
Rather than attempt to sum up a year’s worth of thought, insight, and dialogue in a few pithy lines, I’ll let the pieces on this list speak for themselves. These blog posts — the most-read pieces on the CEP blog throughout 2022 — speak clearly to our current moment and to what was collectively on our minds in the field of philanthropy. From continued (and crucial) discussion of the role of and need for racial equity work in philanthropy, to dialogue about a turn toward systems change work, and how to measure its impact, to the big questions the sector faces moving forward, these blogs contain a snapshot of the questions and the issues at the heart of philanthropic work right now.
As we reach the end of the year — a traditional time for reflection — I hope these provide food for thought (again) for readers of the CEP blog.
10. What Ted Lasso Teaches Us About Philanthropy by Clara Bennett and Jessica Kiessel (Omidyar Network)
“The real work is forging and healing relationships, rebalancing power, and creating new norms so that the team (and by team we mean everyone working to challenge and reshape harmful systems) can flourish in the long term, even in the face of missed goals, injuries, or a string of losses in the short term.” Read more.
9. Imagine if Philanthropy Got Serious About Ending Structural Racism by Britt Savage, Cora Daniels, and Peter Kim (Bridgespan)
“[S]tructural racism has become so normalized, our policies and practices ensure access to opportunity for some and exclude others. How then do funders move from merely embracing a racial equity lens in their philanthropy to truly giving in ways that will help create an equitable society?” Read more.
8. Leadership Development Programs Need an Upgrade: Five Ways to Advance Racial Equity by Idalia Fernandez and Lori Bartczak (Community Wealth Partners)
“To move the sector toward racial equity and justice, funders should sustain healthy leadership development within nonprofits that builds collective power to shift organizations and systems toward justice and liberation.” Read more.
7. What We Learned from Black and Latino Nonprofit Leaders About Countering Racial Bias in Our Grantmaking by Chase Behringer (Silicon Valley Social Value), Malila Becton-Consuegra, and Jennifer Nguyen (Stupski Foundation)
“Philanthropy must reflect on and reimagine its purpose and processes. As a foundation that has disproportionately funded white-led institutions because of our own unconscious biases and an underemphasis on seeking out community-based partners led by people of color, we’ve played a role in maintaining these disparities.” Read more.
6. Why We Must Prioritize Bridging Our Divides by Jenn Hoos Rothberg (Einhorn Collaborative)
“Whatever your philanthropic focus, the case I would make to those who are skeptical of the value of bridging is that intentionally bringing together diverse leaders and funders who have different priorities, worldviews, and theories of change to focus on shared interests will no doubt help heal our culture of divisiveness and deliver better outcomes.” Read more.
5. Donors: Is How We Think About Impact Holding Us Back From Achieving It? by Tim Hanstad (Chandler Foundation)
“Supporting systems change is possible and worth the effort. The results are often long-term, never guaranteed, and likely can never be directly attributed to a single donor (or doer). Yet, when systems can be equitably changed, the positive social reverberations can reach an enormous scale and endure.” Read more.
4. Big Changes and 7 Big Questions for Big Philanthropy by Phil Buchanan (CEP)
“[E]ven as the sense of acute crisis fades, or maybe evolves would be a better word, philanthropy faces some big questions. I will try to lay them out as I see them — recognizing that others would have different questions and that my perspective, inevitably, is subjective.” Read more.
3. Philanthropy’s Role in Reinforcing Settler Colonialism by Raymond Foxworth (First Nations Development Institute)
“[W]hat is needed for the sector is a radical transformation in how they view the history of economic and political development in this country. The sector needs to acknowledge that the United States is a settler colonial country and recognize that still today Indigenous peoples must fight for survival under conditions of settler colonialism.” Read more.
2. When it Comes to Boards, “Who” Matters by Anne Wallestad (formerly of BoardSource)
“[L]et’s stop having conversations about board composition as though this is up for debate. Let’s be intellectually honest. Let’s name that boards that are choosing to be all white — or allowing themselves to remain so — are also choosing to reduce the likelihood that their work will advance equity and better serve communities of color.” Read more.
1. Eight Signs Your Board Might be Dysfunctional by Kevin Bolduc & Phil Buchanan (CEP)
“[W]e know from our personal experience that being a good board member requires conscientious work. So, we owe nonprofit boards a debt of gratitude for service they provide, representing millions of hours of volunteer effort a year. But … if some of these warning signs are flashing, it’s time for an open conversation about it. The organizations you govern can’t be effective unless you are.” Read more.
It is, without a doubt, a privilege to play host to the thoughtful reflections and insights that both guest writers and our own CEP authors share on the CEP blog, and I look forward to a new year of continued dialogue there. I hope you will join us and follow along (you can subscribe to make sure you never miss a post). More than that, I hope you will see this forum as a way to participate in the conversation — share your own insights or respond to others’, make a case for progress, and speak up for what’s right. Perhaps you will be on next year’s list!
Chloe Heskett is an editor and writer on the Programming and External Relations team at CEP. Find her on LinkedIn.