(July 23, 2020) Anthony Romero has been the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union since 2001, having come to his post seven days before 9/11.
In recently penned an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy to address the spending issues raised by the “$2 billion in racial equity pledges and commitments since May 25, 2020,” as reported byThe Associated Press.
“With this outpouring of support, many nonprofits have had to grapple with the challenges of how to absorb and deploy such large sums of money,” Romero wrote. And Americans turned to the ACLU in the same way after Donald Trump was elected in 2016. And that the organization learned a few things from the experience.
”People did not make contributions to the ACLU so that we could stash their funds in our investment accounts. People gave to the ACLU after the election of Donald Trump so that we could launch a full-throated fight for basic rights and liberties. With this unexpected outpouring of generosity in 2017, I made a commitment to my board, staff, and contributors that we would divide up the Trump bump and spend those funds during the four years of the Trump administration.”
What worked, he said was building the program, expanding the staff, investing in volunteer activism, and giving priority to state action and investing in infrastructure.
They also made mistakes he said. Growing so quickly meant that existing managers were challenged and “we were doing an inadequate job of helping new staff members get acquainted with the organization … causing some friction between seasoned staff and new colleagues, between lawyers and activists, between the state offices and headquarters.”
New communications systems had to be built “creating new discussion lists, Slack channels, and cross-departmental and cross-office groupings of staff to improve those communications.”
And although in Canada we are not seeing the same level of racial equity pledges and commitments, best practice does exist for organizations who are able to take advantage of new funding becoming available to address ages-old injustice.