258 | Is the talk of decolonizing philanthropy misdirecting our attention?
As a Latinx fundraiser for thirty-five years, Armando has earned the right to have an opinion or two about the challenges we’re facing in today’s nonprofit sector and he believes that, in many ways, we’re missing the point in some of our most heated debates. Armando insists that if decolonizing philanthropy is our goal, it’s not going to happen by focusing on large foundations. We’ve got to remind ourselves what we’re all told in fundraising 101: foundations have never been where the real sustainable opportunities are and never will be. What’s worse, convincing ourselves that in some way the powers that be behind these large foundations will just hand over their power, influence, and assets is simply naive.
Armando wants to remind us that these supposed powerhouses of philanthropy only account for a small fraction of what’s actually contributing to our sector and that they don’t hold nearly as much clout as some would like us to think. While their size, stature, and political influence may be intimidating, their financial impact is considerably less when compared to what individuals are capable of giving. Foundations account for just 18 percent of the money going to charity whereas individuals give upwards of 70 percent every year. To decolonize philanthropy by any definition, we’re going to have to recognize that the real opportunities exist at the lunch table interacting with individuals, not applying for grants from institutions. And to make the types of changes that the loudest voices in our space are calling for, Armando insists that fundraising professionals are going to have to recognize the power that they already have rather than asking someone else to give it to them.
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