What We're Reading: How Philanthropy Upholds White Supremacy

"Do you know much about philanthropy? Most people don’t," said author Jessamyn Shams-Lau. "Philanthropy’s decision makers are not exactly representative of the general public, yet their influence has ripple effects on marginalized communities."

"When we incorrectly believe or misunderstand that the contributions to foundations and donor-advised funds still belong to the founders, we reassign ownership of the foundation and the funds to them. This perpetuates a concentration of power at odds with representation, inclusion, democracy, and community."

"Our understanding influences who holds power."

"And in the case of philanthropy, power is often held by people who are furthest away from the communities served, spend the least amount of time studying the history, context, and data of issues being addressed, and are most likely to be involved in philanthropy due to family obligation, professional expectations, or the idea of 'legacy.'"

"If founders truly divested control of foundation and DAF funds to diverse groups like this, money would flow more freely to Black and Brown communities. By maintaining control through board seats, founders and founding families exert undue influence in Black and Brown communities–by commission or omission–and carve out for themselves another well-heeled version of the white man’s burden."

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