This was the gist of a set of funder benchmarks developed and recently released by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy–a great group who’s circle includes such luminaries and provocateurs as Pablo Eisenberg and Rick Cohen. The benchmarks read thus (three of them, anyway):
- Provides at least 50 percent of its grant dollars to benefit lower-income communities, communities of color and other marginalized groups, broadly defined
- Provides at least 25 percent of its grant dollars for advocacy, organizing and civic engagement to promote equity, opportunity and justice in our society
- Provides at least 50 percent of its grant dollars for general operating support
The report estimates that only 13-16% of funders satisfy these criteria. But wouldn’t it be cool if more got on board? Apparently not. Paul Brest, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, tares into NCRP on the Huffington Post. And he’s backed up by many other funders, calling the report arrogant, rigid, simplistic, and many other things. Most of the critique seems to be about the context of these benchmarks (i.e., should they be binding or regulatory?). But leaving those (important) issues aside, it seems like the impact on community organizations and the people they serve would be quite dramatic if–one way or another–funders migrated in this direction.