Five Questions to Consider: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration

The election of Donald Trump last November has precipitated significant movement within the philanthropic sector to mobilize resources, organize collective action, and spearhead advocacy for a wide range of issues and communities across America. Now having reached the first 100 days of the new administration, philanthropists are taking a moment to reflect and assess this response. In their recent article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Aaron Dorfman, Cathy Cha, Jaqueline Martinez Garcel, and Lateefah Simon — leaders of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Latino Community Foundation, and the Akonadi Foundation respectively — encourage philanthropists to consider the five following questions:

Have grantmakers committed enough funding and resources?

Grantmakers throughout the country have heightened their giving in response to the shifting political climate and policy priorities of the Trump administration. With the Affordable Care Act under threat, the California Endowment announced it will be creating a $25 million fund for health and safety programs. The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation has dedicated $63 million toward climate change, democracy, and women’s health; the Open Society Foundations has committed $10 million against hate crimes; and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has increased its giving by 12% in order “to protect and strengthen the vitality of our democracy.” Community foundations and smaller grantmakers have followed suit. However, the authors urge philanthropists to ask whether these efforts are truly enough, considering both the intensity of the challenges being faced and the level of resources at their disposal.

Have grantmakers invested in leaders of color and women?

The authors encourage philanthropists to question whether they have prioritized investing in organizations and institutions led by women and people of color. Regardless of their area of focus, incorporating marginalized leaders and communities is critical toward achieving equity and a lasting impact.

Have grantmakers responded quickly enough?

Although it can be challenging for foundations to swiftly review and process grant requests, many nonprofits are facing imminent threats and challenges. As the authors explain, “a slow response from a grantmaker could mean a missed opportunity to make a measurable difference.” The Astraea Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Solidaire, and Women Donors Network, among others, have all created rapid-response funds to address these needs.

Have grantmakers expanded their vision?

Many foundations focus resources on a particular set of issues and causes. The authors suggest that philanthropists consider expanding their scope to include communities most in need of assistance: “If we stay in our silos and only support those organizations and campaigns that closely match our program requirements, we will probably miss opportunities to make a bigger difference.” The Barr Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Rosenberg Foundation have all awarded grants beyond their typical priorities to support civil rights, investigative journalism, and Muslim community organizations.

Have grantmakers effectively spoken out to defend those in need?

The authors note that although foundations hold a significant level of influence over society, they have historically been reluctant to speak out on contentious issues. The authors encourage philanthropists to make use of their public standing to mobilize support and action for communities in need.

Read more at The Chronicle of Philanthropy.