Nov. 1, 2023 6:35 am

What Do We Need as a Region Philanthropically?

What does our local philanthropic/social impact landscape look like and what needs to change?

Lorina Marshall-Blake, Beth Dahle and Patricia Wellenbach during a Women in Nonprofit Leadership Conference panel on funding trends.

(Photo by Melissa Simpson)

Each month, when we start a new series, we kick-off with an explainer piece that provides some background and insights into the issue we are covering. A lot has been written over the years, and as of late, in regards to Philadelphia’s Philanthropic Sector.

“Nonprofit leadership is lonely. Black nonprofit leadership is even lonelier and only another Black leader can fully empathize with the challenges and obstacles their peers face. Challenges like being the first ever Black executive director or CEO and leading an organization with a majority white senior staff who suspect that their appointment was a “racial reckoning” hire. Obstacles like a white board chair hiring a Black executive to lead an agency but communicating with their white subordinates on a back channel to assess the Black leader’s performance. Or the organic Black leadership that has existed in our communities for years and is known by local elected officials but unfamiliar to regional funders — the same funders whose funding serves not only as support but validation and a seal of approval of one’s leadership. These are just a few of the conditions Black nonprofit leaders experience.”

~ The steps towards strengthening Black nonprofit leadership after George Floyd


“People who control the money and people who need the money look different and there’s no way they naturally come into a community with one another,” he said. “Foundations give money to people they are comfortable with, people who act like them and have the same values and have the same socioeconomic upbringing and move in the same social circles. That’s not BIPOC folks.”

Access is the biggest hurdle, because most foundation boards and program officers are white, said Cubbage of the Philadelphia Learning Collaborative”

~ Strings attached: Philanthropy and BIPOC organizations

From our Partners


“In a hyper-competitive fundraising environment like Philadelphia, social impact has become more about personal relationships than the organization’s mission. It’s an environment fueled by nepotism where funds are granted to the “lowest hanging fruit” with minimum appetite for true diversity vs familiarity. Nonprofits are forced to pivot their programs to align with funders’ goals, even if it means diverting resources from addressing critical systemic issues. This catch-22 situation is intensified by a shared scarcity mindset between those seeking funding and the funders themselves.”

~The Illusion of Inclusion


“…the study, called “It Matters,” counted 15,149 nonprofits in the five counties…Those 15,000 nonprofits provided a total of $11.3 billion in wages. The study states that if the federal government were to count nonprofits as an official economic sector, they would rank as the third-largest in the region by employment and wages behind the trade, transportation and utilities sector, and professional and business services.”

~ Phila. nonprofits employ 242,000 people, study says


“Foundations have left. Religious giving is in the tank. We’re now, somehow, among the least generous metros in America. Philadelphia, it’s time to step up.” 

~ Only You Can Fix Philly’s Philanthropy Crisis


“ it’s up to leaders and institutions across sectors in our region to ensure that this opportunity translates to bigger and faster economic mobility for all in our region including those who’ve been excluded or marginalized. We also need relief for nonprofits whose criticality has been conspicuously demonstrated during the crises of 2020. We must all become more policy focused at both the federal and state levels.”

~ 10 Philadelphia-area leaders on what’s next for philanthropy


This November, as Generocity focuses on what our local philanthropic and social impact landscape looks like and what needs to change, we want to hear from you!


What is working in the sector? What isn’t? 

What do our communities still need from our leaders, from our institutions?

What leaders are getting it right?

What do you want to know about the sector that we should focus on?


Share Your Thoughts and Questions Here



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