The Real Cost of Upholding Power Structures

May 10, 2022
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Philanthropy allows us to pool together our resources and invest in change that benefits our communities.  

Unfortunately, the current state of philanthropy falls far short of its potential, with too many programs that are not set up in a way that is equitable or representative of the communities they intend to serve.

This lack of equity is costly—not just in terms of the unrealized potential for good that could be done, but also in terms of the actual monetary cost to our society.

There is a clear need for change. It won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible. It’s already happening.

The Insufficient Status Quo

We all can better serve our families, friends, and neighbors by closely examining how the current philanthropic systems fail us, and how they might be changed to better reflect our values and needs.

And talking about “wanting change” is not enough. Too often, calls for change are just empty rhetoric without any real action behind them. Money and resources aren’t allocated in a way that meaningfully activates change, and the unbalanced status quo continues.

In our report, “81 Reasons You Are Missing Out On The Next Big Thing” we collected and shared some key data points that illustrate this. For example:

“The unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76 percent smaller than their white-led counterparts.” Racial Equity in Philanthropy (2020), Echoing Green & The Bridgespan Group

“The population of Latinos in the United States has risen over the past decade to 16%, and yet the share of philanthropic dollars going to Latino issues has remained at about 1%.” Foundation Funding for Hispanics/Latinos in the United States and for Latin America (2011), Foundation Center

These numbers are just a small snapshot of the larger issue at hand. Funding decisions are being made without input from the people who are actually impacted by those decisions, and the result is a system that perpetuates inequities instead of repairing them. 

Preparing For Change

When things are this imbalanced, sustainability is sacrificed. Communities are robbed of the resources they need to be resilient. And when successful solutions and initiatives emerge, inadequate funding limits their ability to scale.

Yet, in this fractured system, we find space for hope.

Gaps can be bridged. Wounds can be healed. Systems can be restructured.

How?

  • We can improve the ways we collect, organize, and assess data. Then, we can better understand the full extent of our impact—who we are serving, who is being left out, and where changes need to be made.
  • We can use this data to make informed decisions about where and how we allocate resources. Then, we can ensure that those who are closest to the problem are also closest to the solution.
  • We can create more equitable partnerships. Then, we can support each other more effectively and efficiently.
  • We can create opportunities for inclusive collaboration. Then, we can create more sustainable systems that are primed for success.
  • We can invest in new ways of thinking and being. Then, we can shift the status quo.

Read through our “81 Reasons…” report to learn more about the costs of the current power structures and the possibility—the necessity—of change.

Reconstructing Philanthropy Together

All of us must work together to dismantle the systems that prevent us from reaching our full potential, and replace them with structures that allocate power and resources equitably, inclusively, and sustainably.

When you are ready to join us on this transformative journey, we invite you to reach out and connect. If you have resources to share, services to offer, or simply want to be involved, we welcome your support.

Together, we will open up a world of possibility. We will unearth new solutions. We will heal. We will change. We will build. We will thrive.