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Social justice advocate and collaborative leader who has worked in the nonprofit sector in Los Angeles for more than 25 years. https://billpitkin.net
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Originally appeared at Inside Philanthropy on September 16, 2020

Philanthropy is under a lot of pressure to increase the amount of funding it dedicates to meeting the tremendous short- and long-term challenges society is up against. A number of foundations, large and small, have made pledges to increase grant funding significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond these voluntary efforts, advocates are calling for higher payout requirements for foundations and donor-advised funds.

While some foundation leaders call on their peers to “distribute all their philanthropic assets within the next few years” to meet this historic moment of need, the majority…


Photo by "My Life Through A Lens" on Unsplash

Originally published at Inside Philanthropy on September 15, 2020

With demands for equity and inclusion in philanthropy growing in recent years, and particularly over the past few months as part of a surging movement for racial justice, critics have called for breaking down the barriers between funders and the beneficiaries of their giving. There appears to be a growing interest in participatory practices in philanthropy, ranging from gathering feedback and input from grantees and beneficiaries to providing external stakeholders authority in funding decisions.

To better understand how people working in the sector view such practices, Inside Philanthropy’s recent survey of…


Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Originally appeared at Inside Philanthropy on September 11, 2020

Conversations in philanthropy about racism and racial justice have been growing in recent years, leading many foundations to examine their own internal dynamics, as well as their funding priorities and practices. Pressure to address the lack of racial equity in American society has been heightened by the severe disparities revealed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and this year’s national uprising in the face of police violence.

Based on Inside Philanthropy’s recent survey of foundation program staff, it is clear that foundations are doing a lot of soul searching about whether…


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Originally published at Inside Philanthropy on September 10, 2020

There is a saying in philanthropy that “when you’ve seen one foundation, you’ve seen one foundation.” The variety of foundation priorities, operations, policies and practices is due to the overall lack of regulation and standardization in the sector. For some, this may be liberating, but it is frustrating for nonprofit organizations that depend on foundation funding.

In addition to the diversity of foundation practices and priorities, leadership and staff within a foundation can have diverging views. Most reports on foundation priorities and perspectives focus on executive leaders and board members. There…


Mandatory Relocation Notice — November 15, 2020

The key overall finding based upon available evidence is that adopting more humane, person-centered approaches produces more efficient and effective outcomes than the more punitive policies that are often used throughout the U.S. — Arnold Ventures

As the visibility of homelessness has grown throughout Los Angeles in recent years, it has revealed a long-standing dynamic in the region: the vast majority of people who are unhoused sleep outside or in places not meant for human habitation. While about a third of people who experience homelessness in the U.S. are unsheltered, nearly three-quarters of unhoused people in Los Angeles are unsheltered.


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Originally published at Inside Philanthropy on July 18, 2020

As we’ve reported previously, left-leaning nonprofit organizations have become more politically involved through advocacy and lobbying, as well as civic engagement, sometimes by establishing 501(c)(4) affiliates. Foundations are increasingly coming together to back these efforts through funder collaboratives, while major donors are working together to coordinate both philanthropic and political funding. …


Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Originally published at Inside Philanthropy on June 24, 2020

Philanthropy has long exemplified a power imbalance of haves and have-nots, between those who have funding to give out and those seeking grants to do good in the world. To the have-nots, how funding decisions get made is often a mystery and the ultimate tool of philanthropic power.

Now such decisions are under scrutiny as never before. Criticism of institutional philanthropy has been growing in recent years, leading to increased self-reflection by foundations and some movement on how they relate to community organizations and residents.

Funders are stepping up efforts to…


Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Originally published at Inside Philanthropy on June 4, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crisis have generated calls for, and some action by, philanthropy to support grantees by relaxing funding and other requirements, and in some cases, increasing grant dollars during this time of need. Is the same true with foundations’ impact investing?

Impact investing is an umbrella term for “investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.” For philanthropy, these investments usually take the form of loans such as program-related investments (PRIs) or mission-related investments (MRIs) from foundation endowments.


Photo by Nicole Baster on Unsplash

The news from the Twin Cities and reactions across the country this week has brought back memories of April 1992, when I was living in Inglewood, just three miles from the flashpoint of the civil unrest in Los Angeles after the acquittal verdict in the Rodney King beating case. Over the next several days we heard constant sirens and smelled smoke in the air and watched as people looted stores across the street. My emotions were a mix of outrage and anger, fear and anxiety, and a strange hope to be part of building bridges across race and class lines.


Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

Originally published at Inside Philanthropy on May 20, 2020

Philanthropy has become increasingly comfortable with funding community organizing and movement building to advance racial and economic equity, particularly in response to threats to democracy, civil rights and community life since the 2016 election. At the same time, funders have given growing attention to land use and affordable housing challenges in many communities. …

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