Power to Advance Equity in Philanthropy
The article How Grantmakers Can Use Power Mindfully to Advance Equity, part of the "Power in Philanthropy" series presented by Stanford Social Innovation Review and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, addresses that even if there may be barriers to utilizing power ethically and responsibly, "funders can —and must—overcome them to truly advance equity and justice."
In this piece by Lisa Ranghelli, senior director of assessment and special projects at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, “power” may be viewed as a synonym for “racial equity.” She argues the best way to deal with power effectively is to acknowledge it "even when it seems invisible. Yet many funders don’t."
Ranghelli states three reasons why funders don’t face power head on:
- Foundations lack enough institutional buy-in.
- Funders aren’t far enough along on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
- Foundations are afraid to take greater risks.
Ranghelli points out that those are legitimate concerns and that funders must also consider "the risk of inaction—of letting our communities continue to suffer, or of failing to achieve equity goals and perpetuating the status quo."
We all engage in power dynamics all the time, whether or not we are aware or acknowledge it. We may unconsciously enable power for some and disable power for others, causing harm or missing opportunities to use power for good. It’s time for us to meditate on power so that we can be more conscious about how each of us manifests it—to notice who benefits and toward what end. In doing so, the obstacles to using it effectively will become surmountable and inspire mindful action.