Reposting from Benjamin Bellegy, Executive Director of WINGS — a global philanthropy collaborative
As published in Alliance Magazine, August 17, 2021
We all know that climate change is no longer a crisis. It has become an emergency.
A groundbreaking report published earlier this month by the world’s leading authority on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was called a ‘code red for humanity’ by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.
The report says that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented ways and that some of the changes are now inevitable and irreversible, and that we need to take immediate and drastic action to prevent further catastrophe.
If the global scientific consensus on the urgency was not enough to convince all of us – individuals and institutions – that we need to act now and boldly, we can see the effects in the world around us with growing and terrifying frequency. The last few months have shown us a glimpse of what we should expect, not just for a few small Pacific Islands, but for all of us: floods in Europe and China with hundreds dying, heat waves in North America and devastating fires in Australia, Canada, Greece, Algeria and Turkey.
Emergency means momentum. With COP26 coming up in October this year, we, philanthropic actors, have an opportunity to show our engagement on the climate crisis to the world, and maybe even more importantly to ourselves, our stakeholders, teams and partners. We believe this is not only the role of environment-focused foundations to take action but of the whole philanthropic community.
Historically, WINGS has been cause-agnostic, as a global network whose role is to foster stronger and more impactful philanthropy worldwide. This year, for the first time, we decided that we have a responsibility to leverage our network – which reaches out indirectly to 100,000 philanthropy actors around the world – to push the sector to take action on the climate emergency.
Building on a movement started in the UK with ACF and in other parts of Europe with Dafne’s support, we have engaged 40 philanthropy networks from across the globe to launch the International Philanthropy Commitment on Climate Change. Not because we are drifting away from our core mission, but, on the contrary, because we believe it’s the only way to be loyal to our mission and responsibility. If we don’t do everything we can to counter the existential threat humanity is facing, how can we say we are here to serve social progress and strengthen philanthropy – the love of humanity?
Historically, WINGS has been cause-agnostic, but for the first time, we decided that we have a responsibility to leverage our network to push the sector to take action on the climate emergency.
For the same reason, this commitment calls on all philanthropic actors, regardless of their mission, size and nature, to act. Because whatever the cause is that we care about, if we don’t act on climate now how can we be sure that there’ll be a tomorrow to act on our other causes?
More than a pre-condition to achieving our missions in the future, engaging on climate is also a way to better achieve our missions today. As the commitment highlights, the climate crisis is a poverty and inequality issue, a social justice issue, a food and water issue, a health issue, a democracy issue. And the list could go on and on. As much as engaging on climate is a critical issue in itself, it also helps us take a more holistic view about what we are trying to achieve and embrace the interconnectedness of the issues we need to address.
Taking the commitment is also a way for philanthropic actors to learn how to leverage all the instruments of change they have at their disposal. Not only our grants or what we implement on the ground but also our investments and financial assets, our operations, our influence and expertise. By engaging, you will have an opportunity to act at all these levels and learn from the successes and failures of others who have already started the journey.
We will not ask you to reach this or that target. This is an invitation to start a journey – with energy, with a sense of urgency, with a deep commitment to learning and to keep trying, with all our assets, and with the support of others. An invitation to join a global movement and to be collectively determined to transform the way we work, today, tomorrow, and the days after tomorrow.
Philanthropy will not solve the climate emergency alone, but it has to do its part. And this part can be absolutely critical and transformational if we really leverage all our strengths: our $1.5 trillion in financial assets, our capacity to innovate, to connect actors, to support advocacy and social movements, to take risks, to influence mainstream markets and governments.
Anti-climate philanthropy is organised and resourced. It is time for the silent majority of our field to do the same. The commitment provides a starting point and a common platform. Let’s come together to take action and protect our future. Our lives depend on it.
Read more in our #PhilanthropyForClimate series.
Benjamin Bellegy is the Executive Director of WINGS.
In light of the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Haiti, we are sharing the following post from our sister organization, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR):
Safe Haven for Afghans and Haitians in Crisis
We at GCIR are heartbroken about the devastating crises unfolding in Afghanistan and Haiti. In the wake of the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the collapse of the Afghan government, and the Taliban’s takeover, many Afghans are fleeing for their lives. Meanwhile, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that recently struck Haiti heightens the urgency of Haitians seeking refuge at the southern U.S. border and the need for Haitians currently residing here to remain. As large numbers of people are being uprooted from their homes, we believe the United States can and must lead the world in protecting these refugees and offering humanitarian assistance.
In response to the events in Afghanistan, an immediate, large-scale evacuation effort and a significantly increased U.S. refugee admissions cap are imperative. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans are at risk in the wake of the Taliban takeover, tens of thousands of whom are in danger due to their association with the U.S. mission. Only 16,000 Afghans have been given protection in the United States since 2014 through the Special Immigrant Visa program, and an estimated 18,000 Afghan allies and 53,000 family members remain in the processing backlog. As the Taliban consolidates power in the coming days and weeks, the window for taking action is rapidly closing.
Haiti’s recent earthquake left at least 1,419 people dead and more than 6,900 injured, a toll that is expected to rise in the coming days. This disaster, coming on the heels of accelerating political turmoil in Haiti, makes it all the more important that Haitians already in the United States are not compelled to return to a perilous situation and that those who have fled to safety have access to asylum and humane treatment when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Although the Biden administration extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to additional Haitians in May, it is also crucial to halt deportations for Haitians present in the United States today and for Congress to establish a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders and others.
We urge philanthropy to:
- Resource organizations advocating for more robust support for refugees, including the International Refugee Assistance Program, We Are All America, and Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans.
- Support Black immigrant organizations that have been historically under-resourced, including the Haitian Bridge Alliance.
- Invest in efforts that support asylum seekers, including the Welcome with Dignity campaign.
- Fund advocacy and related efforts for a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders, such as the We Are Home campaign and Ready to Stay.
- Provide general support grants with minimal administrative hurdles to the organizations above, many of which have limited capacity and must focus their scarce resources on their core work.
- View relevant recent GCIR resources to inform your response, including our program and resources on Black immigrant leadership and our webinar Building Welcoming Communities for Tomorrow.
Beyond these current crises, the U.S. refugee resettlement system is in great need of rebuilding and strengthening. The administration is on track to admit fewer than 10,000 refugees this fiscal year–the lowest number since 1975 and well below the cap–and has merely resettled 6,200 refugees as of the end of last month. If the administration does not ramp up the pace of processing applications in the pipeline, fewer than the previous low of 11,814 refugees set under the Trump administration will enter the United States.
We at GCIR know our country can rise to our highest ideals by providing protection to those who most desperately need it and welcoming them into our communities, and we believe philanthropy has a critical role to play in helping our nation achieve that vision.
Leaders of many philanthropic support organizations, including United Philanthropy Forum, Council on Foundations, Independent Sector, and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, have issued a letter in solidarity with ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities in their call for philanthropy to take action on anti-Black racism.
ABFE is the oldest affinity group in the country, borne out of a moment of both conflict and action, when Black leaders raised their voices to protest the lack of representation within philanthropy. Since their founding nearly 50 years ago, ABFE has worked to mobilize grantmaking entities, donors and nonprofits to improve outcomes for Black communities and the country as a whole. Now, they are calling on philanthropy to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and anti-Black racism by engaging in deep, transformative institutional change; supporting Black communities; and deploying an equity analysis in their work.
The leaders say, “We ask you to read ABFE’s call to action and commit to making change within your own institution. We also encourage your support of ABFE and their work by becoming members of their community. As ABFE says in their statement, “we must be in it for the long haul.” To that end, our organizations commit to working in partnership with ABFE to offer programming and engagement opportunities that help philanthropy develop the deep partnerships with Black communities needed to provide both immediate support and affect long term change.”
The ABFE statement begins, “Our long-term goal is to free Black people from disparate treatment that result in the racial disparities we see in COVID-19, police brutality and on almost every indicator of well-being. To get there, we must dismantle the structures (institutional policies and practices) that disadvantage and marginalize Black people as well as the false narratives about Black communities that allow for continued inhumane treatment. This will lead to stronger Black communities.
“Philanthropy has a critical role to play and must step forward. In addition, a more robust partnership moving forward between philanthropy, government, businesses and Black communities is needed to address immediate needs and opportunities (targeted COVID-19 relief and police reform); as well as the longer-term strategies to address racial inequity. We need deep, transformative institutional change in this country; foundations and donors that support Black communities, in addition to those from other sectors (government, business, etc.) must commit to and deploy an equity analysis to investments moving forward. This is a marathon, not a sprint and all of us in philanthropy must be in it for the long haul.”
The full statement includes 10 action priorities:
Independent Sector has released an open letter calling on financial organizations that administer and directly impact the recipients of SBA 7(a) loans to prioritize nonprofits as loan recipients, recognizing them as essential to our nation’s safety net. Nonnprofits account for a third of the country’s workforce and are the backbone of our recovery effort. If you are interested in signing on to the letter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59pm on April 8. Here is the letter:
April 6, 2020
To American Bankers Association and Bank Policy Institute:
Thanks to each of you for your leadership in providing critical financial support as our nation navigates the response to COVID-19. On March 27, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The nonprofit sector is committed to ensuring that an essential, yet often overlooked, segment of our infrastructure receives access to the SBA 7(a) loan provisions of the CARES Act. We need your partnership to make this happen.
Independent Sector, a nonpartisan membership organization representing hundreds of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, calls those who administer the loans and directly impact the recipients of 7(a) loans to prioritize nonprofits as loan recipients, recognizing them as essential to our nation’s recovery.
Nonprofits play an indispensable role in meeting the needs of our communities and supporting our economy in times of crisis. Even as this public health crisis has shut down vast portions of our economy, nonprofit organizations continue to serve on the frontlines to meet a wide range of needs in our communities, from providing meals to families, to offering emergency child care, to identifying emergency financial support for those who’ve lost their jobs in recent weeks.
The economic consequences of COVID-19 are staggering for all sectors of our economy. The nonprofit sector – the third largest workforce in our nation that contributes over five percent to the national GDP – is especially vulnerable because of what we expect to be precipitous declines in charitable giving and earned revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are, therefore, extraordinarily dependent upon equitable access to the financial assistance provisions of the CARES Act, especially the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans, and the Coronavirus Economic Stabilization Act Program.
Small nonprofits, especially those operating in underserved areas, often have limited banking relationships, which may make it difficult for them to successfully navigate the loan process. Further, many banks are only extending loans to existing customers. This also may impede small nonprofits from obtaining a loan due to their prior bank history. In short, there is real concern that charities, particularly those that are led by people of color and/or serving communities of color or tribal communities, may find themselves shut out of the process to secure financial resources that are critical to their survival.
We cannot let this happen. Independent Sector stands ready, with our nonprofit and philanthropic partners, to work with government and private financial institutions to devise and deploy strategies that ensure there is equitable access to SBA 7(a) loans for all nonprofits that qualify, consistent with the intent and provisions of the CARES Act.
We need to get this right. By working together in partnership, we believe that we will. We urge you to support and include nonprofits as you administer SBA 7(a) loans and help make a difference in our communities.
President and CEO
- Expressly include charitable nonprofits in the $200 billion loan fund for businesses. The charitable sector needs an immediate infusion of $60 billion and the loan program is a fast way to get cash in the hands of organizations serving immediate needs in communities, yet facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
- Clarify that charitable nonprofits of all sizes are able to participate in the emergency Small Business Loan Program by using the tax-law definition of charitable organizations (Sec. 501(c)(3) public charities) and removing the language that excludes nonprofits that are eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursements.
- Improve the above-the-line charitable deduction by raising the cap to $2,000 and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes (due on July 15), and afterwards through 2021.
United Philanthropy Forum, the National Council of Nonprofits, and Independent Sector (IS) joined more than 50 nonprofit organizations in calling Congress to pass a $60 billion stimulus package to maintain nonprofit operations, expand scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.
In a letter sent to Congress today, organizations asked for a package to specifically include the following policy solutions:
As is done in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), any additional employment-focused relief or stimulus legislation must expressly apply to employment at tax-exempt organizations by making tax credits and deductions applicable not just to income taxes, but to the taxes nonprofits pay, such as payroll taxes. Further, Congress should also ensure that relief and stimulus legislation designed to assist for-profit businesses in the areas of unemployment insurance, employee retention, and risk insurance must also address the unique challenges and realities that nonprofits face.
America’s charitable nonprofits request $60 billion in emergency stimulus funding aimed at helping adversely affected national and local organizations. These funds can be distributed quickly through multiple funding streams, including, but not limited, to expansion of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for nonprofit employers, emergency grants to nonprofits operating under grants from federal, state, local, or other pass-through entities, and other to ensure the continued flow of charitable donations.
To incentivize all Americans to support the vital work of America’s charities, we call on Congress to enact an “above-the-line” or universal charitable deduction for contributions through the end of 2021. Further, to help those who step forward to help America’s charitable organizations immediately assist the most vulnerable, Congress should permit taxpayers to donate today – at the height of the pandemic – and claim the benefit from these deductions on 2019 tax returns.
Every charity in America, regardless of size, that provides paid family and medical leave should receive a tax credit the organization can use. We applaud the HR 6201 approach to provide a payroll tax credit to all employers of a certain size (including charities and other nonprofits) providing emergency paid family leave and sick time pay for care related to the coronavirus. Congress should provide payroll tax credits to all charities, regardless of size, that provide such paid family leave and sick time pay as a result of the coronavirus.
If your organization would like to sign in support of this letter, please email email@example.com.
Read more about IS’s response and resources from President and CEO Dan Cardinali.
The Rhode Island Foundation announced that it is committing $1 million – above and beyond the Foundation’s annual grantmaking in education – to support improvements to the state’s pre-K to 12th grade public education system.
The funding announcement comes as the Long Term Education Planning committee, convened in late 2018 and led by the Foundation, releases final recommendations for improvements. The Foundation’s investment of $1 million will align with the recommendations in the report. The report includes input provided by more than 300 parents, students, educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors at the Make It Happen: A World Class Public Education for RI brainstorming session at the R.I. Convention Center in December.
The Long Term Education Planning Committee, a 26-member group of educators, policymakers and leaders from the nonprofit and for profit sectors convened at the request of the Foundation, developed the 10-year plan for improving education in Rhode Island. Click on a link below to read the plan, “Chart a Course, Stay the Course: Rhode Island’s Path to a World Class Public Education System.”
“Participants at the Make it Happen event were extremely vocal about the need to amplify the role of student and family voice. These voices are fundamental and critical to making improvements in the system,” said Steinberg, who served on the committee. “We encourage all Rhode Islanders to work together on this effort – be ambitious and bold, display strong support for educators and continue to demand more for all students, in every community.”
In addition to a vision for the future of public education in Rhode Island, the final plan includes a set of four priorities and accompanying strategies, including aligning the state funding formula with both state and local needs and sustaining a rigorous, statewide assessment system.
The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island has released a new research report, titled “An Uneven Path: State Investments in Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency 2019.”
The report and accompanying executive summary drew on state budget documents, Rhode Island’s Standard of Need report, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other publicly available information to gauge the state’s progress on gender equity. Report and summary