(February 11, 2021) The philanthropic sector is called to task and urged to think of 2021 as a “turning point” by Dr. Lucy Bernholz, Senior Research Scholar and Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab, a department of Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Bernholz is the mastermind of the annual Philanthropy and Digital Civil Society: Blueprint 2021, The Annual Industry Forecast monograph series. Her comments are from the 2021 edition.
That the charitable sector is a microcosm for many of society’s current problems is not news to anybody. Yet, Lucy Bernholz’s research clearly articulates the intersection of the myriad issues facing the charitable sector today. Systemic racism, attacks on civil rights and oceanic amounts of digital misinformation are only some of the factors that make up our current ‘syndemic’, in which the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates other, long term problems.
She urgently underlines the need for a serious reinvention of the priorities and practices of the charitable sector, writing in her introduction to the 2021 monograph that “those of us who give time and money, who work for foundations or nonprofits, and who seek a more equitable and just world will abandon existing practices that are preventing many of the changes that philanthropic organizations and individuals purport to pursue.”
In 2021’s Blueprint, Dr. Lucy Bernholz suggests several areas of improvement for the nonprofit sector. She highlights the need to look to experienced organizers from Black, Latinx, or Indigenous communities for their experience and innovation, although she predicts continued resistance from “corporations and governments led by White men.”
Additionally, she urges a change of focus for nonprofits. After decades of focusing on corporate law and tax law, “civil society and philanthropy advocates need to shift their policy focus to protect the right and ability to assemble.”
And, as if we didn’t have enough to worry about, Bernholz warns that “Unless we intervene now, we are on a trajectory of digital corporate enclosure of our physical and virtual gathering spaces.”
Canadian’s trust in charities has dropped 6% since May September 9, 2020
Charity, Philanthropy and the Structures of Racism June 17, 2020