Three years ago, we launched the Cause Effective Fellows Program: Advancing Leaders of Color in Fundraising with the intention of strengthening a diverse pipeline of leaders in the nonprofit sector. As we come to the close of this year’s cohort of 16 dynamic development professionals, we have now worked with 41 Fellows at some of the most well-respected social justice and human rights nonprofits in the country.
As Black History Month comes to an end for 2022 and we launch into Women’s History Month, Cause Effective reflects on the complicated history of people of color and philanthropy. Inspired by the Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow, Cause Effective will be dedicating space through our work to highlight our incredible clients. Most notably, we are reflecting on how they have been resourcing their communities. The rich history of identity-based philanthropy and fundraising, and female-led philanthropy, lives within these innovative, mission-driven, community centric organizations.
Imagine the last year and a half – with all we’ve experienced living through this unprecedented pandemic. Now imagine every time you saw or heard about a nonprofit organization in action -- providing emergency shelters, handing out groceries, pivoting to virtual learning, advocating for immigrant rights, and mental health care.
Can you imagine this period in time without the lifesaving and life-transforming services that these nonprofits provide every day to people throughout the world? The nonprofit sector is, indeed, the epitome of care.
Around the country this is the time of year when nonprofit organizations send fundraising appeals to their donors – current, lapsed, and prospects – asking for financial support for their mission and work. For some organizations this is a stressful period of the year. The pressure of bringing money in the door, particularly during a time when millions of people are still living through the continued negative impact of COVID…people are experiencing an increasing rise in prices to cover some of the most basic household necessities…organizations, institutions and businesses are navigating tricky personnel and financial challenges – the reality is, we are still living with so many unknowns.
Cause Effective has partnered with dozens of organizations since the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 to help them reexamine their vision, mission and strengthen their case for support. This strategic exercise is important for nonprofits to embrace as part of their practice – especially during difficult times like the time we are living in now. When world events have sparked political unrest and fueled division within communities, nonprofit staff members are sometimes not aligned to engage donors and funders. What has also made this time more demanding is the continued economic challenges of COVID on fundraising.
In 2017, as part of a DEI discovery process for Cause Effective, our clients asked us to support them by addressing how structural racism plays out in fundraising. As a white executive director of an organization whose service has been deeply rooted in communities of color for almost 40 years, I heard their request. I resolved to embrace how Cause Effective in general, and myself in particular, could play an essential role in creating change.
Selected Blog Posts by Topic:
Fundraising through a crisis is never fun, but it can be done. Cause Effective saw many clients continue to succeed in fundraising during the Great Recession, but they had laid the groundwork for continued support years before. Read more.
Has an executive director's job become easier as a result of all the online information on nonprofit management right at their fingertips? Maybe yes, maybe no. Executive directors need information, but also thought partnership, empathy and peer support to find the best solutions to their organization's most entrenched challenges. Read more.
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“Cause Effective helped us change our board’s leadership and culture – and has continued as a valued resource to this day.”
– Naomi Goldberg Haas, Artistic Director, Dances for a Variable Population