In her recent blog announcing an additional 286 grants she has awarded, McKenzie Scott offers a master class in philanthropy that centers equity, dignity, trust, generosity and a wholly relational approach to thinking about impact. She writes, “People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating. This is equally — perhaps especially — true when their work is funded by wealth. Any wealth is a product of a collective effort that included them. The social structures that inflate wealth present obstacles to them. And despite those obstacles, they are providing solutions that benefit us all.” She closes her blog with one of my favorite Rumi quotes: “A candle as it diminishes explains, Gathering more and more is not the way. Burn, Become light and heat and help. Melt.” I am so inspired to be able to follow and learn more from her as she continues forging new ground.
For those interested in the possibilities ahead for big picture philanthropy, I recommend this report from The Bridgespan Group and this one as well: “Field Building for Population-Level Change: How funders and practitioners can increase the odds of success.”
The reports attempt to address the “lack of shared understanding about what it takes to advance fields and mismatches between fields needs and common philanthropic practices.” Both contain valuable insights at a time when many foundations are deep in new strategic planning processes and so many organizations are striving to increase their impact.
I’m so excited to share that Trabian Shorters, CEO and Founder of BMe Community, has been supported by Northern California Grantmakers to offer a free workshop for our nonprofit and philanthropic communities. Trabian will be talking about the power of narrative frames and how to use that power in this time of crisis. Trabian has opened my eyes and heart and, as a result, I have transformed the way I write, speak and think about the communities we aim to help. Please join me in attending, and then get in touch so we can talk about what we’ve learned. To register for this free event click here.
The amazing Amanda Ripley earned my undying respect with her research, “Complicating the Narratives,” — about how journalists can help bridge divides by asking questions as mediators in high conflict zones have learned to do. Her newest piece, “How to cover uncertainty and statistics in a pandemic, without making things worse,” is equally important. She writes, “If you are going to report the number of deaths, you should report the number of lives saved. Why? Because one shows the threat, and the other shows our control over the threat. Millions of human beings are working on managing this threat, including nurses, scientists, doctors and sick people and their families. Where is their scoreboard? This is not about making people feel good or minimizing the seriousness of this threat. It’s about telling the truth.” Her work is always so measured, thoughtful and so important.
I’m obsessed with “Whitman, Alabama,” a sensational project from AL.com that uses documentary and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together—as people, as states, and as a nation. For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall crisscrossed Alabama, inviting people to look into a camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman. Start with verses 39 and 37 and experience for yourself the beauty of this extraordinary project.