Back to Past President’s Messages

President’s Message
Learnings & Next Steps From Achieving Equity

The Achieving Equity convening held March 2 in Los Angeles, brought together key leaders from philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, government, business, and labor. The day elevated the importance of cross-sector dialogue around equity, and initiated a way for all of us to take collective action to uplift the communities we serve that have been marginalized for far too long.

At the close of the convening, I outlined four ways we can move forward together to advance our collective commitment to inclusion, fairness and opportunity in Southern California and beyond:

  1. Use actionable data to help guide shared strategy, support advocacy, and measure progress;
     
  2. Continue and expand discussions from the convening through cross-sector programming from our regional grantmakers associations and other interested parties;
     
  3. Explore the development of an “equity movement leaders” program to provide communities with the leadership training and support they need to build strong movements for change; and
     
  4. Sustain the conversation with national thought leaders and collaborate with foundation leaders around the country in order to both draw upon and inform philanthropy’s national dialogue about equity.

The convening was a starting point, and we were encouraged that so many participants from across sectors provided feedback on the day and ideas about how we can move forward together to advance fairness and opportunity for all people. You can see the full Harder + Company survey results here.

Survey respondents were very interested in pursuing actionable data as a next step, with 71% ready to participate in a stakeholder engagement process designed to advance equity through the use of data. In addition, 65% said they are interested in participating in a planning process to support equity movement leaders. Finally, 63% of respondents said that they are interested in engaging in cross-sector programming through the regional grantmakers associations.

In addition to the survey results, I’m pleased to share a report from the USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy that captures the key takeaways from the convening and will also help inform our next steps. These key takeaways include:

  • Achieving equity, addressing inequality and privilege, and combating hopelessness are essential to a thriving democracy.
     
  • Advancing equity is not only the “right thing to do,” it is also the superior economic growth model for society as a whole moving forward.
     
  • Any discussion of equity must be grounded in real data and a nuanced analysis of demographic change—one that highlights the importance of race.
     
  • In order to move the needle toward equity, philanthropy leaders need to be bold, flexible, and consider strategies beyond traditional spheres of grantmaking.
     
  • Although philanthropic resources are small relative to capital flows in the public and private sectors, foundations can strategically interject resources in ways that leverage the government and market for greater equity.
     
  • Only by creating cross-sector and collective action toward equity can we hope to achieve a scale of impact commensurate with the challenge.
     
  • There is room for a spectrum of approaches. Some foundations may use other words to describe their work, but are still working toward similar goals. Regardless, we all need to push ourselves to do more and to see ourselves as part of broad-based effort.

I am sharing the convening summary and the survey results with you to continue to invite collaboration from funders, nonprofits and others, as well as to challenge all of us to think about what strategies we may be called to undertake or lead. I look forward to being in touch in the coming months to share next steps and to working together as a collective field of action.

We have entered profoundly difficult times, when so many of the underpinnings of our free society seem to be in jeopardy. This moment is a call to action for all of us, and our values demand a total focus on equity.


Fred Ali
President & CEO